Shadows: Awakening a single player dungeon adventure is willing to spice up your normal RPG and give you a unique way to play the game. The game begins as a hooded man summons the demon Devourer and asks for him to join forces. The two are on opposite sides but they must come together if both sides are going to come out alive.
There is a lot of mystery in the beginning and neither can really trust the other but in the end they must find a way. After the pact is made the hooded man tells the demon he must choose from three souls to help him on his journey. Each one of these souls has their own story arch in the game so there is definitely replay ability for this one. You will get to choose from Kalig (Warrior) the Bandit King leader of the Guild of Steel, Jasker (Hunter) Legendary hero of the Second Rebellion and Evia (Mage) daughter of Koreth IV, the last God Empress of Garulia. One of the coolest parts of this game is there are a total of 14 characters. You will not be able to play with them all in a single playthrough but you get your hands on a bunch of them.
I chose Kalig to start off my game and I loved the choice. He is brash and funny at times with enough wit to talk himself into some good rewards with the merchants. Once you choose your character his storyline is started and is intertwined with the hooded man and the Devourer.
I really enjoyed the game play in this one with the variety of attacks and how each one of your characters has their own set of skills. You can have up to four characters at one time but the Devourer and Kalig are the two main ones when it comes to the storyline. What sets this one apart is that you can switch between the Devourer who resides within the shadow realm or your other characters in the living realm. This keeps the game fresh as you will have to utilize the Devourer and your other characters.
You will need to spend time in the shadow realm to unlock passage ways or see clues that will help you solve puzzles. It even comes in handy during combat when you can use certain tactics in the shadow realm and then bounce back to the living and gain the upper hand. Being able to play with a brute force character one second and then switch to a more speedy character that you could attack your enemy from a distance is helpful and fun as hell. You will need to learn their strengths and weaknesses because it will play a vital part in your survival throughout the game.
Another nice feature of the game is if one of your characters falls in battle all you have to do is find a sanctuary spot in the shadow realm and you can resurrect them. However do not let the Devourer fall because if you do it is immediate game over and yes there are some very tough enemies in the shadow realm. This kept the battles fun and intense at times. The sanctuary spots will also heal all your characters in your party. You will certainly run across some very powerful enemies, my advice, do plenty of the side quests that are available in the game. You can keep track of your main quests and side quests in the Journal section of the menu. I enjoyed the quest setup and how you could decide which quest to tackle on your own. It never hampers or ruins the story as well so the developers did a great job keeping the quests relevant to the storyline.
A piece of advice, don’t be afraid to go back and level your character up if a boss battle is giving you troubles. Some of them can be difficult if you are not strong enough to take them on but a quick level up can turn the battle in your favor. Pay attention to the boss battles as well because they all have their own unique type of damage they dish out to you. Use your best characters suited to combat them or just use them all in order to stay alive, wink, wink.
You will find these things in your menu and this is basically for your character customization. Just like any well done RPG dungeon crawler your character will be fitted with a weapon, armor, necklace, rings and usually some sort of magical item. This keeps the tradition alive and well but you will spend a lot of time in this menu. All four of what is basically your starting lineup will be shown here and you have to switch between them in order to access their inventory. Not only do you have to fit them with their own build out but you must change their skills and talents. The skills will give your character three special attacks such as things like stun attacks, freeze attacks, brutal power attacks and so on. You even receive skill points to level up the skills you choose to use.
Once you have set your skills you move on to talents that you basically learn as you level up. Here you can get certain things like increase hit points by 20% or extra 25% silver coins from every drop. Choose wisely though because once they are locked in they are there for good. You have to do this with each character and if you want to do the same for your stashed characters you have to find a sanctuary and add them into your lineup. You can spend way too much time doing this and it felt perhaps there could have been a better setup in order to utilize this more efficiently. This is nothing game breaking though, more annoying than anything.
The character and the settings look great in this game. The detail in armor and weapons will have you trading them out just so you can see how bad ass your character looks holding a massive Bug Hammer. I loved some of the names for the weapons and armor as well. Seeing a piece of chitin armor that clearly has bug spikes coming off of it is really cool. There are also gorgeous looking dungeons, cities where you buy or sell items with merchants or desert areas with vile creatures. They all have their own special elements and detail in the background that make you feel the environment around you.
If that wasn’t enough the dialogue in the game was done very well. You will find some of it can be a little corny but for the most part it is one of the best you will find in this type of game. I especially enjoyed Kalig’s dialogue as he can be humorous at times as he imposes his will on people. If he feels that someone isn’t giving him a fair deal he will let them know right away and sometimes you even get the choice as to what he will say. Nothing was better though as you switched to him and he stated, “Do I have to do everything myself?” That is classic Kalig.
Shadows: Awakening is a breath of fresh air and the developers really did a fantastic job with adding a new element to this type of RPG. I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and each character had purpose in this game. I literally used each and every one of the characters that the Devourer was able to obtain. I had a blast hacking my way through enemies or using more precise attacks with my bow. Switching between the shadow realm and the living realm kept the game fresh. The visuals are spot on with the armor/weapons and the voice over work done on this one is seriously some of the best you will hear. The leveling up system works very well and you feel that tweaking the skills is something that actually matters.
The menu was a little tedious at times and I think it could have been utilized better. There are a few hiccups in this game and the long loading screens get annoying after a while. There isn’t a ton to complain about here, although I didn’t feel the books you find throughout the game served much purpose. Maybe they could have added dialogue to them in order to entice you to check them out more. The rewards are worth seeking out on the side quests and those alone are worth playing just to see what is going on in other places of them game. The enemies are tough and the ever growing tug on your morals make this a must play game for any fan of the genre.
A big thank you to Games Farm and Kalypso Media for providing us with a review code of the game.
Rating: 8.5 out 10