Devour souls and resurrect the dead in this action RPG
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.