Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
But which Shadow Warrior do I mean? Despite my love of the magnificent Build Engine, not the 1997 original which never worked its way into my heart in the way that Blood did. Gotta have some Blood in your heart. But, no, I’m talking about the distant year of 2013, when Hard Reset developers Flying Wild Hog released a game that surprised me by being one of my favourites of the year.
I replayed Shadow Warrior recently, partly to see if it was actually as good as I’d thought during that first encounter. It is. The opening is a bit of a mess, with a sub Saints Row in-car singalong that I find as off-putting as nails on a blackboard, but as soon as the first demons appear, the game settles into a happy routine. Cut, slash, stab, kill. It’s a gory onslaught of intensely satisfying first-person melee combat, with a chunky set of upgrade sheets from which to select combos that are simple to perform and tricky to master.
Don’t be surprised if this year’s sequel ends up stealing my heart all over again. Shadow Warrior is very good at stealing hearts. It converts them into weapons of mass destruction.