DEVELOPER: Games Farm
PUBLISHER: Kalypso Media
GENRE: Action RPG
PLATFORM: PS4, PC, Xbox One
PRICE: $49.99 (Consoles) $39.99 or Free to owners of Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms (PC)
RATING:T (Blood, Violence, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Mild Language)
RELEASE DATE: August 31st, 2018 (PC) September 4th, 2018 (Consoles)
Shadows: Awakenings is the third game in the Heretic Kingdoms Saga, following Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition and Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms. This is the first entry of the saga to appear on consoles, so knowing the whole story requires playing the other two on PC (Available through Steam or GOG) We also see the return of actor Tom Baker voicing the Narrator. The story takes place after the second game and the Devourer seems to be the same one also. Who is in control the Devourer or the souls he has consumed? Will you save the world or destroy it? The choice is yours!
The game starts out with you the player taking control of the the Devourer who has been summoned by a mysterious hooded man and told to choose the first soul you will devour. You can choose between Kalig the Bandit King (Warrior Class), Jasker the Wild Boar (Archer Class), and Evia the Daughter of Fire (Mage Class), this will be your main character in the Mortal Realm. Each character has their own backstory that you will learn more about as you play through the game and unique personality that will sometimes clash with the Devourer or the other souls you share a space with. This makes for some fun bantering and dialogue between the characters. Getting the whole story will require you to replay the game using a different hero as they also have their own unique quests.
Now the party system in the game is different than your traditional RPG party system. Instead of controlling a party of four characters on the screen at one time, the party system here is that you only control one character/class at a time. The Devourer is the main character of the game with the first soul you chose as the secondary main. The Devourer consumes souls who all become his puppets in the mortal realm. Puppets are made up of different classes, so you can round out your party. There are a total of 14 puppets available to you in the game that can be switched in and out of your party of four. Each of these puppets have alternate skills and weapon preferences that will enhance your party’s playstyle and complement your two main party members in battle.
Switching between the Devourer and his puppets is a simple button push and helps to solve the various puzzles, quests, and boss battles in the game. Switching to the Devourer though causes you to enter the Shadow Realm whereas everything in the Mortal Realm freezes. In the Shadow Realm there also exists features unique to the Devourer, see a demolished bridge in the Mortal Realm than switch to the Shadow to find it intact. Dead NPCs in the Mortal Realm may actually be side quest givers in the Shadow Realm. There is also plenty of loot and essences to find in the Shadow Realm that you may not have access to in the Mortal Realm.
Each puppet has its own equipment and is able to equip three unique skills. This gives you more of a party building aspect than an individual character one. One of the most frustrating things for me was the inventory system. You aren’t able to see everything you pick up in one place like most traditional RPGs. Instead you have to look under each equipment slot on each character to see what you have available to you. So equipping characters can seem like a chore at times.
Combat is fluent and makes use of both the Mortal Realm and the Shadow Realm. Need to dodge a projectile or a powerful attack, switch to the Devourer and the Shadow Realm freezing the battle in the Mortal Realm. Combo your attacks in the Mortal Realm by using your party members skills to your advantage, drop a bomb with one person and smash the ground causing it to explode with another to take out a group of enemies. Experimenting with party member combinations and skills is another enjoyable feature to the game. This could seem fairly complicated and overwhelming to someone, but after a few times experimenting with the system it all becomes to feel natural and easy to maintain.
The game does contain a crafting system of sorts in the way of using essences to add bonuses to your weapons and armor. While not very in depth, it still gives you the ability to increase the build of your party.
Shadows: Awakening is by no means a perfect game as I did encounter a few bugs with stiff movements, split second freezes, and some weird pathing, but all of this could be fixed easily with a day one patch. I did find it rather disappointing that Games Farm didn’t take the opportunity to enhance the game for owners of the PS4 Pro, but it still ran well and looked really good while playing on one.
Shadows: Awakening is an enjoyable action RPG with a strong story that offers lots of choices and lots of combinations in building the perfect party. You can complete a playthrough in approximately 20 – 30 hours, but with the replayability the game has to offer you are looking at approximately 60 – 90 hours if you want to see, collect, and experience everything it has to offer. While I played the game choosing Kalig for my playthrough, I am looking forward to seeing what Jasker and Evia have to offer also. The voice acting was well done, the graphics are nice to look at, and the characters and story are what really hold everything together in a well wrapped package. Playing through this game made me realize how long its been since I played the first game in the saga and how I forgot to pick up the second game (which I definitely need to purchase and play now.), but nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed the game and everything it had to offer. If you are looking for a new action RPG to play and enjoy great characters, unique features, and an enjoyable story, then you definitely should play this!
Overall I give Shadows: Awakening a solid 8.5/10!
A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review
Part time employee of a major video game retailer.