Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms PC Review
Pre-Alpha Action RPG
A poor man’s Diabo III best describes this new early access action-rpg on Steam. But, with a unique party system, still makes it feel different enough to enjoy.
The successor to Kult: Heretic Kingdoms, Shadows builds upon the existing universe by adding decent story to a fleshed out world and providing a different twist on the common “hero on a quest” motif. You play as not a hero per say, but as a demon that devours souls to use as puppets to interact with the physical world. The demon himself can be geared toward range, melee, or magic attacks and the “puppet” you choose also has a core class which allows for a nice mix up of different strategies.
Using a unique party system, you can switch between the demon and his puppets to get past certain terrain only one or the other can traverse. This is a fairly common gameplay tactic that we have seen before, but unlike others the switching of characters provides a very different combat gameplay. Not to mention the worlds are totally separate, and when you switch, all new enemies will attack whomever you switched too. These perilous changes can really add to the challenge of what should be an easy puzzle.
The combat system itself is not terrible, but its controls and use of camera can really impede what should be a quick monster kill. The constant clicking needed for attacking a monster is pretty annoying when it would be so simple to institute some kind of attack move command like you would see in LOL. The camera is never smooth enough when zoomed in, and at a weird angle when zoomed out to see the action clearly. This leads to a lot of misclicks while your puppets get killed. The most important stat in the game is mana, which supplies your magic attacks, but also is your main source of health regeneration. You can sacrifice mana in the field for more health and this is a huge part of fights where you would normally die. This puts far too much emphasis on mana which you only get a small amount of from each montster. This effect is never more noticeable than in using a magic class devourer and a mage puppet.
Graphically, the environment is a bit disappointing. It’s too general and cookie cutter from older RPGs and doesn’t add enough flair to stand out. Even on max display, the details are lacking, and the animation for characters is stilted and jumpy. The color scheme for the physical world is also very muddy at times, and it can make seeing exactly where to click very difficult. So much so, that holding ALT will light up objects that can be interacted with and without this I’m not sure I would ever know what I can actually do.
Overall this is an enjoyable game, albeit not from first glance. I played this on the pre-alpha release which is available for early access and it’s very hard to judge an unfinished project like a final product, but you can tell bad decisions with even this level of development. Focusing too much on story and not controls or gameplay would be the major ones. Getting Tom Baker (the fourth Doctor) to play a character is good, but not using him more, and providing better quality audio for a more immersive narration is an example of a bad move. Hopefully the developers can polish and shine this ugly rock into a shining gem, but for the discounted price of $28 it is not worth it to find out.
Not As Good As: Diablo III
Better Than: a sharp stick in the eye
Also Try: Wasteland 2
Written by: Adam