It was perhaps inevitable that a new action horror game involving Shinji Mikami would echo certain elements of Resident Evil 4, such as the claustrophobic camera angle you're forced into whenever you go to fire your gun.
It was also inevitable that a game involving his colleague, Goichi Suda, would pulse with toilet humour. So when we sit down to play Shadows of the Damned for the first time at GDC, these elements don't come as much of a surprise.
However, it's fun to observe the subtler things that these two feted game designers have learned and recalled from their earlier, seemingly dissonant output.
Their videogames have a charming habit of expecting you not just to overlook the absurdity of their systems – like inventory management during a zombie apocalypse, or mowing lawns to get money to pay for stuff so you can fight people with a laser sword – but to revel in them.
The only way that Shadows of the Damned is different is that it not only gets this, but takes things to their logical conclusion. Pretty much nothing that happens in Shadows of the Damned makes sense, but it doesn't matter, because there's internal consistency and everyone's very earnest about what's going on.
What's going on is that you play a leather-clad, tattoo-covered, hard-drinking man named Garcia Hotspur. You're on a mission to rescue your Taylor Swift lookalike girlfriend Paula from Fleming, the king of all demons, who has trapped her in Hell as part of a sick game he's playing with you.
Those are the sensible bits. You are accompanied on your quest by a talking demon called Johnson, who takes the form of a disembodied, fiery skull, sounds like he's from somewhere west of Salisbury and can transform into upgradeable weapons called things like "Boner".
Rather like Alan Wake, Shadows of the Damned is a game built around the manipulation of light and darkness. Rather unlike Alan Wake, darkness spreads as a slow-moving purple veil that emboldens enemies and changes the status of doorways.By wading into it and striking at Darkness Hands (literally hands that spew the darkness) you can turn it off.
Doorways, incidentally, are sometimes covered in Demon's Pubes (I'm not making this up) which restrict your progress until they're dispatched by shooting particular things nearby, under cover of the purple darkness.
Shadows of the Damned is also host to those quintessentially Japanese action/horror game cut-scenes that luxuriate in character detail and obscure, garrulous dialogue.
Upon entering a paved courtyard under a massive neon sign that says "WELCOME TO HELL", for example, you're assailed by the operatic siren calls of a strikingly (read: sadistically) dressed young lady on a balcony. She pirouettes and wails for much longer than is necessary to get the point, before Johnson explains who she is and why this is scary.
For all the noise, Shadows of the Damned is actually quite a simple game by the looks of it – a third-person shooter with a bit of melee action every now and then.
Demonic enemies stalk you over neglected, overgrown cobbles, among piles of severed limbs and blood smears. You carefully shoot them with your pistol, machinegun or shotgun, or whack them if they get too close. You can target individual limbs to slow their advance, and their heads explode merrily if you get that red-dot sight into the right position.
The pace and style of combat is close to Resident Evil 4 or 5 rather than a typical Western cover-based shooter. The same goes for the enemy design – the larger demon you end up fighting in the courtyard, for example, needs to be spun round to expose the bloody weak spot on his back.
Plus you can shoot barrels, there are boxes of loot lying around, and you need to stock up on health packs (although, this being a Mikami/Suda production, health is restored by downing Tequila and so forth rather than bandaging yourself).
At the conclusion of the playable demo, Paula appears to Garcia in a cut-scene draped in lacy negligee and disappears around a corner. Garcia follows and discovers her body, head severed, lying on a workbench.
He picks up her head sorrowfully and cradles it, and in best Evil Dead tradition it opens its eyes and cackles at him. He drops it and Paula's body collects it from the ground, lifts it up and reattaches it. "Well, that killed my stiffy," says Johnson, rather unhelpfully.
"Paula" then starts shaking violently, and splits head to foot down the middle, revealing a scabrous, blood-soaked demon with blades on his arms who proceeds to run past Garcia and start feasting on a pile of dismembered arms. As the camera collects Garcia again, the demon is busy sucking on a stump in the foreground.
Then it turns around and advances, and Garcia has to shoot nearby barrels and generally panic-fire to halt its approach. Fade to black.
Our 10-minute snapshot of Shadows of the Damned gameplay isn't enough to really decipher the game, but you also sense that unlike some of Mikami and Suda's more complex previous work – No More Heroes was basically somewhat divisive satire – this isn't a game that wants you to waste time deciphering it.
It's certainly a feeling you get listening to the developers discuss it on stage during an initial presentation, as they namecheck Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, mention Grindhouse cinema and salute the audience by downing shots of whiskey.
They have great chemistry on stage, infectious despite the usually impenetrable membrane of in-line translation that their words first have to cross, and judging by the demo they have great chemistry in development. Shadows of the Damned is great fun – familiar yet enterprising and characterful.
We should get to play it again at least once more between now and the planned 7th June release, and for fans of interesting games masquerading as silly ones, that's a date that can't come soon enough.