Shadow Warrior 3 Review – A fun but flawed first-person fracas

lo wang wielding sword in shadow warrior 3Flying Wild Hog

Despite trying to reinvent itself and refine its existing formula, Shadow Warrior 3’s enjoyable moments are sadly overshadowed by some frustrating issues that really hamper the experience.

After two reasonably successful outings in the franchise, Shadow Warrior 3 was supposed to be Flying Wild Hog’s magnum opus that would see the series hit new heights and learn from previous mistakes.

But during the course of a fairly short, linear campaign, Shadow Warrior 3 actually manages to regress in ways and its new innovations and gameplay enhancements come at a price.


Shadow Warrior 3 – Key details

  • Price: $49.99  / £39.99
  • Developer: Flying Wild Hog
  • Release date: March 1, 2022
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC

Shadow Warrior 3 trailer


Less story, more action

Despite its best efforts to create an engaging story, Shadow Warrior 3’s characters are generally not interesting and lacking in characterization. The premise of the game sees our very verbal protagonist Lo Wang working to quell the destructive threat of an ancient dragon.

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Along the way are some bizarre distractions and miscommunications that could easily have been avoided and instead feel like a way to prolong its wafer-thin concept.

Lo Wang himself is very divisive and as we mentioned — he likes to quip. The only problem is that his dialog is relentless and his material barely gets a chance to settle before he’s flinging out more dated pop culture references for no reason.

He’s no Nathan Drake in terms of likability or charisma, but he does keep you engaged and entertained at times. Some of his cringe-worthy lines can be excused as every now and again an absolute banger will land, but for the most part, it’s a little too much.

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Great gameplay stunted by questionable game design

Shadow Warrior 3 unashamedly acknowledges that it has borrowed a lot of ideas from recent games, most obviously DOOM, in its efforts to revitalize its formula — and there are definitely worse franchises to crib from.

Finishers allow players to insta-kill enemies, grabbing some fabulous weapons called Gore Tools in the process. From an insane jack-in-the-box rocket launcher to a disco laser ball, you’re definitely encouraged to store Finishers and use them at the right time.

ninja enemy in shadow warrior 3Flying Wild Hog
Shadow Warrior 3 has so many enemy types that you need to manage each battle accordingly.

They can take a while to do though, which can disrupt the flow of combat, but they do complement an already stellar roster of great guns. Its gunplay and combat are comfortably the best aspects of the game and at times make it a game you can’t put down.

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Battles largely take place in open combat arenas that block off your path until you’ve defeated all enemies. Thanks to a litany of varied enemies that are introduced throughout Shadow Warrior 3, you have to keep on your toes and vary up your gameplay.

For instance, one foe needs a Chi Blast to expose its vulnerable spot and it keeps you thinking in real-time about how to strategize your attack to hit it hardest. Combined with the fluidity of the game’s movement options such as double-jumping, sliding, dashing, and another borrowed element in a grappling hook, these arena areas are a delight to overcome.

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Sadly though, about two-thirds of the way through the game you pretty much have all the weapons and have seen virtually every enemy type, and repetition quickly sets in. The final few levels become a series of never-ending arenas that line up in quick succession, and I found myself having to pause the game before each as a way to keep monotony from creeping in.

Outside of some fun platforming sections that break up the staleness, Shadow Warrior 3 is a very linear shooter with a basic upgrade system to flesh out its content a bit more. The campaign is over in several hours and a lack of replayability makes it hard to justify its price tag.

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lo wang holding hoji maskFlying Wild Hog
Cut-scenes generally leave a lot to be desired.

Shadow Warrior 3 suffers from Jekyll & Hyde syndrome

At times, I found Shadow Warrior 3 to be beautiful and shockingly so. For a game that hasn’t been publicized as much or received as much press and hype, it was rife with lush terrain intertwined with some truly gorgeous backdrops.

Colorful areas really catch the eye and create a baffling dichotomy between gameplay and cut-scenes. They are so ugly that you actually want to skip them. Lip-syncing is horribly off and they undermine any beauty found in Shadow Warrior 3’s actual gameplay.

I’m not kidding, the final spoken words of the game were lagging five seconds behind the actual animations themselves. It’s all stuff that’s surely going to be patched, but it serves to highlight the duality between gameplay and the cutscenes.

6.5/10

Somewhere in Shadow Warrior 3 is a meaty FPS that is trying to move forward with the times but struggles to keep consistent as technical problems and a muddied presentation mar the game’s strengths.

The first half of the game is an enjoyable, constantly growing, and expanding experience that runs out of ideas towards the end. Lo Wang is certainly not the most memorable or likable protagonist ever seen, but I appreciate Flying Wild Hog’s intentions.

If the price comes down then it will be a blast to play through on one Saturday or Sunday, but if there’s a fourth game on the way, then there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5