The tropes of humans and demons alternately fighting each other and working together is one that has been around for millenia. From the Reavers in Ancient Roman tales to Satan, these creatures have had an affect on millions of people. Each story usually involves a person or groups of people who confront the monsters and end up defeating them, yet these tales of heroism almost never ask how the demons feel when humans attack.
Shadows Of The Damned is a tale of Garcia Hotspur, demon hunter, who ventures to the City of the Damned to rescue his girlfriend, Paula. The kidnapper is Fleming, Lord of Demons, who takes her in an attempt to goad Garcia into a fight, though there is another, bigger reason; one that pre-dates Garcia by centuries.
There have been hundreds of demon hunters that have tried to end Fleming and his kin, but there is one who is a legend even in the demon world, and that is the Unbreakable Huntress. She was the first female hunter who ventured to the demon world in an effort to kill Fleming. The very fact that Fleming is still around means that she failed, but Fleming made her his wife so he could torment her for all eternity.
However the Huntress manages to escape time and again, only to be dragged back to the demon world to live under Fleming’s rule. Though it isn’t explicitly mentioned in the game there are heavy hints that Paula is the Unbreakable Huntress, though she’s portrayed here as more of a damsel in distress. So what we have now isn’t just a demon taunting a hunter, but a rather twisted story about love and lust. One which drags other demons along for the ride.
You see, Fleming rules the City of the Damned with an iron fist, and any demon can be killed for almost any reason, ranging from plotting to overthrow Fleming to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Throw into the mix a demon hunter who is out for payback and as a minor demon you’re suddenly in your own personal hell.
As you wander about the City of the Damned you’ll see that it looks remarkably like any other city, complete with markets and theatres, except that it’s a bit darker than in the human world. This alone is an indication that demons have lives outside of toying with humanity, if they do that at all, going home to rest and relax with their friends. There are demons that run businesses and demons that create art, and even a huge library in the City just filled to the brim with demon literature.
So when a human enters the realm with a demon gun that has allied itself with him and starts wreaking havoc, you can’t be surprised that they’ll fight back. After all, those who are getting killed will have friends and family, so anyone who can is trying to stop Garcia from massacring them all simply for the crime of being born a demon.
Then there is Paula who, if the theory that she is the Unbreakable Huntress is true, has suffered from centuries of abuse, which explains why she has gone from the fierce warrior to the distressed. Being killed and tortured over and over by Fleming has broken her, but when Garcia is shown her dying over and over he does nothing to stop it until the very end.
It’s no wonder that near the end of the game Paula goes back to being a warrior with demonic powers, if only for a brief time, to exact her revenge on everyone including Garcia. They’ve treated her as a trophy and a toy, and for the brief time Paula fights back she is once again in control of her fate and her decisions.
Garcia fights Paula because she’s trying to kill him, and when he defeats her he kills that warrior spirit all over again. This act transforms her back into a toy, with the game ending pointing toward Fleming reclaiming Paula for his own amusement, while Garcia promises to fend off the demon army. Paula stays is once again no longer in control of her life.
Shadows Of The Damned covers quite a few things really, from the fact that maybe Garcia is just as much a monster to the regular demon people as demons are monsters towards humans. The game also shows how someone’s spirit crushed to the extent that it reduces them to a shadow of their former selves, while others fight over that shadow like a prize to be won and owned.
Maybe the title, Shadows Of The Damned, alludes to Paula and her depressing existence.