Shadow Warrior 3 from developer Flying Wild Hog continues the tale of Lo Wang, the most bumbling yet effective Ninja in existence. It is crude, funny, fast-paced, repetitive at times, yet has a charm that manages to make the journey to defeat a dragon relatively fun.
The game starts off with the world in disarray as Lo Wang and his former employer turned nemesis turned sidekick Orochi Zilla embark on an improbable mission to recapture an ancient Dragon they unwittingly unleashed from its “eternal” prison. The ludicrous premise is presented with some genuinely funny cutscenes showing Lo Wang succumbing to his despair after losing to the Dragon over and over again.
I personally don’t have a lot of Shadow Warrior experience so this mix of gameplay and cutscene narratives really drew me into the world and the charm of Lo Wang. He is incredibly capable, but often careless, clueless and foul-mouthed. It is a nice departure from the supremely capable protagonists we generally see.
The gameplay is a little less innovative, with a mix of platforming, light puzzle solving and tons of arena style combat sequences. Generally a level gets traversed with some enemies along the way to dispatch and then a main area with a horde of bad guys to kill in various ways. Then rinse and repeat as the world is explored.
It is not to say the process is boring. Thanks to snappy controls, plenty of weapons collected along the journey, and a newly introduced grappling hook, combat stays enjoyable. In most areas wall running and grapple points are everywhere so the levels can be quickly moved around to stay ahead of enemies.
The enemies featured are universally over the top, with ice demons, crazed bushidos, driller demons and even slinky creatures that are ridiculous and deadly. Like the weapons these enemies are introduced as the game progresses and by the end I was facing off against all of them in big battle royales.
The weapons are thankfully as crazy and deadly, with shotguns, shurikan throwers, pistols and grenade launchers as well as your trusty Katana ready to mow down enemies. Shadow Warrior 3 also features upgrade systems for all the weapons as well as for Lo Wang’s attributes to keep the battles interesting.
There are some other gameplay hooks that add variety, such as environmental hazards that enemies can be shoved into and finishers that instant kills an enemy. These finishers are fun to do but always yield the same result so the novelty wears off quickly. Thankfully every finisher awards a “gore weapon” that can turn the tide of a battle, so they are continually useful.
The Final Word
I struggle to heap praise on Shadow Warrior 3 as I felt most of the experience was merely fine. The graphics are fine with the odd standout moment. Combat is fine but tends to get repetitive, and the story is fine but gets uplifted by the snappy dialogue from Hoji, Lo Wang and Zilla.
Ultimately without the over the top persona of Lo Wang this would have been a much duller affair. So to answer the question the game poses often, “Can you have too much Wang?”: thankfully in this case there is just enough Lo Wang insanity to make Shadow Warrior 3 a shallow but enjoyable experience.