Shad­ows: Awak­en­ing

Devour souls and res­ur­rect the dead in this action RPG

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS -

It’s clear the de­vel­oper has spent time on re­fin­ing the feel of the game

Devour­ers are shad­owy, mag­i­cal crea­tures with the abil­ity to eat peo­ple’s souls, ab­sorb their mem­o­ries, and re­an­i­mate them as pup­pets to do their bid­ding. At the be­gin­ning of Shad­ows: Awak­en­ing, you play as one of these Devour­ers and are given a choice of three long-dead cham­pi­ons to bring back to life: a ranger, a war­rior and a mage. This is essentially your start­ing class, but through­out the game you’ll be able to devour ad­di­tional souls and re­cruit more pup­pets to join you on your ad­ven­tures.

You can switch be­tween the Devourer’s shadow realm and the real world at the push of a but­ton. In the shadow world, ev­ery­thing is ghostly; in the phys­i­cal realm, the game looks a lot like Di­abloIII. The top-down per­spec­tive, chunky models, and at­mo­spheric en­vi­ron­ments are hand­some – espe­cially con­sid­er­ing the game is be­ing de­vel­oped by 25 peo­ple. And like Di­ablo, the fo­cus is on dun­geon crawl­ing and scoop­ing up loot.

When you kill a pow­er­ful en­emy or open a chest, loot pours out like a foun­tain, which is hugely sat­is­fy­ing. It’s clear the de­vel­oper has spent time on re­fin­ing the feel of the game, in­clud­ing some fat, punchy com­bat. The game is, over­all, pretty de­riv­a­tive, but it wears its in­flu­ences on its sleeve and doesn’t feel like a cyn­i­cal at­tempt to copy other dun­geon crawlers. Although that ti­tle, Shad­ows:Awak­en­ing, is like some­thing a random name gen­er­a­tor would spew out, and doesn’t ex­actly fire the imag­i­na­tion.

THE BIG SLEEP

I choose to res­ur­rect Evia, a mage who has been dead for cen­turies. Un­der­stand­ably, she’s a bit put out by sud­denly be­ing alive again, and this makes for some unique story mo­ments. Par­tic­u­larly when she vis­its a city her fam­ily once ruled, only to find it con­quered and the cul­ture of the place trans­formed. But her knowl­edge of the city gives her ac­cess to things the other two he­roes don’t. I love the idea of some­one who’s been dead for cen­turies try­ing to make sense of the world, and I’ll def­i­nitely be pick­ing Evia in the fi­nal game.

She’s your typ­i­cal fire mage, with a se­lec­tion of spells in­clud­ing flamethrow­ers and fire­balls. The other he­roes in­clude a sword-wield­ing bandit and a ranger who spe­cialises in ranged at­tacks. And each char­ac­ter has their own story, mean­ing there should be in­cen­tive for re­plays. With 40 hours of stuff to do in Shad­ows, it’ll take you a while to see ev­ery­thing.

The city hubs are zones where you can trade with mer­chants, fill your head with lore and pick up sid­e­quests. I don’t want to judge it too harshly yet, as I’ve only seen a frac­tion of the game so far, but I was un­der­whelmed by the quests I picked up, which were of the ‘kill 10 rats’ va­ri­ety. At least the main story, which in­volves mys­te­ri­ous hooded fig­ures, lost mem­o­ries and bizarre demons sounds more in­ter­est­ing.

Switch­ing be­tween the shadow realm and the mor­tal plane is en­cour­aged. Cer­tain NPCs will only ap­pear in one world, and it also fac­tors into solv­ing puz­zles. If you’re in a dun­geon and a stone bridge is out, hav­ing col­lapsed cen­turies ago, you can switch to the Devourer’s plane where the bridge will be in­tact. And if your pup­pet ever dies in the real world, you can take con­trol of the Devourer and res­ur­rect them. Care­ful, though: it’s game over if you die in the spirit realm.

I’m im­pressed with what I’ve seen of Shad­ows:Awak­en­ing. The realm­switch­ing gim­mick is cool, and I like the idea of res­ur­rect­ing dead peo­ple into my party. It doesn’t do any­thing par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing, and the art – while pretty – looks like a thou­sand other fan­tasy games that have come be­fore it. But other than that, this is shap­ing up to be an as­sured loot­fest with a few neat ideas un­der its cloak.

City hubs give you a chance to re­lax.

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