Developed by: Games Farm
Platforms: PS4 / Xbox One / PC
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Reviewed On: PS4PRO
The Heretic Kingdoms Series
Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition was the first entry that was released back in 2004. Next came Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms released just four years ago in 2014 on the PC only. Both games released to modest reviews praising its story and promising gameplay systems. Fans have been eagerly expecting the continuation of the saga and Shadows: Awakening is the latest entry in the Heretic Kingdoms series.
Brought to The Light
How ironic it is to have to admit that until it was brought to my attention, I had no idea Shadows: Awakening even existed. Published by Kalypso Media Digital, Shadows: Awakening is the newest entry into the Action RPG genre. It would be easy to mistake it as another Diablo clone but I assure you, that even though they share a lot of similarities, this is something different entirely. The game starts out with a hooded man making a pact with a demon called Devourer. It is unclear at the time why the pact needs to happen and shortly after the player will be brought to choose between three souls to which also effectively introduces the classes (Warrior, Hunter & Mage). Each of these characters will serve as Devourer’s “puppets” in the mortal world as the Devourer only exists in the shadow world. It is important to note that all 3 classes will have their individual stories to discover throughout the game. Political intrigue, mysticism, and lots of dangers will be met on your journey to find out why the pact was made and slowly unravel the grand and deep story the game has to offer.
What I Liked
- Tactical Aspect of Switching Characters – I quite liked that to tackle some enemies the player will have to use all characters at their disposal to maximize the combo and damage inflicted on the enemy. For example, an enemy cannot be hurt in the mortal realm due to a shield but switching to the shadow realm and damaging the shadow version of the enemy would lower its shields and open him up to be damaged in the mortal world.
- Graphics – The graphics look great with the Unity Engine. The lighting especially. The world rarely looks drab.
- Lore – For first-time players like myself it might feel like there is a lot to take in, but I found it easier to digest the deeper I was in the game. It really is very well realized.
- New Area Intros – I also really appreciated that they took the time to have a cutscene detailing the history of the new area as it is very informative and helps the immersion.
- Karma System – I liked also that the karma system is very subtle. You will not get a prompt every time you make a decision that will add to the four karmic elements (Mercy, Cruelty, Charity, Greed). Instead, you will have to be on your toes and really pay attention that a simple conversation might have some repercussions.
What I Wished Was Better
- Loading Screens – Sometimes going into a mini area within the map results in no loading screens, sometimes it does. Although it is usually only 10-15 seconds of loading time, it can feel like a lot when you add it all together.
- Dual Worlds – It is a very nice layer that adds to the game but at times it does feel a little tedious. Juggling between the mortal realm and the shadow realm so I do not miss out on anything can get old fast.
- Puzzles – Can get too complex. There was one puzzle involving rotating three plates to match the symbols displayed but it took too long to solve and switching back and forth between worlds adds to the frustration.
- Puppets – It is a very nice system having multiple characters contained within one body. Although, some characters are clearly more fleshed out than others. Some are just there to fill the void.
- Music – There are some great tracks and should be pushed to the forefront more.
What I Disliked
- Backtracking – The way the game forces you to backtrack sometimes is quite ridiculous and ruins the flow of the game.
- Technical Issues – I know it’s something that could be fixed with a patch, but it did significantly affect my enjoyment of the game. Sometimes attempting to explore an area just to clear it out and find new quests can result in you accidentally completing other quests and it can be confusing. It almost seems like it is better to NOT explore so you don’t accidentally do something you are not supposed to do.