Review: Shadwen

Greetings everyone, I suppose an introduction is due.  I’m Tango and, naturally, I love video games – doesn’t matter how many bits, I play ’em. I cherish Stealth games, so what better way to start up on this site than with a review on one? Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, the review.

An assassin hell-bent on eliminating the king of a dreary medieval land, all the while taking care of a child who’s lost it all. Sounds good on paper, but is Shadwen a Shadwin?

Shadwen is a third-person stealth-action game developed by Frozenbyte, who you might know best from their earlier works – the Trine series. The game sees you taking control of Shadwen, the titular protagonist, sneaking and, if you wish, stabbing your way towards the King of Rivendon. One catch though, you must also escort a young girl named Lily.

shadwen-screenshot-005
I heard acupuncture can relive pain and improve sleep, Mr Guard.

Wait, come back! I know escort missions are the bane of gamers alike, but Lily behaves more like Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite than Natalya from GoldenEye (shudders). For the most part, Lily follows a predetermined path through the level, moving only when the coast is clear or once the room is cleared of guards. Don’t leave her behind though, as she is needed to progress throughout the levels, be it by slipping through small enclosures to help you open up a door or helping you operate dual controlled levers.

Shadwen is much more deadly. She moves like a cat, climbs obstacles with ease and her strikes are fatal and without remorse. Her grappling hook, although unresponsive control-wise, grants a sense of freedom in game, making you feel like Spiderman whilst swinging to and fro. Aside from your dagger and grappling hook, you can craft a handful of other devices, such as a poison-dart launcher to help you on your quest. The crafting system is serviceable at best, but crafting recipes devoid of ingredients left me not too keen on concocting.

shadwen_024
Shadwen – A Tale of Two Sisters.

The gameplay is all-around decent, but a mechanic sets it apart from other games in the genre – time moves only when you do, or only when you hold down a button. You can rewind time if you make a mistake, wish to reposition yourself, or get spotted – one alert means game over.  The game can be played lethally or non-lethally and your choice affects the game’s story, for if Lily sees you murdering a poor bloke, or in the act of disposing a corpse, you scar her for life, you naughty person, you.

Speaking of story, the premise sounds enticing, but sadly it doesn’t evolve into anything interesting and ends up becoming a generic medieval adventure. Mediocre voice acting and a forgetful soundtrack means that you won’t be remembering this game for its story.

Shadwen_screenshot_10
His mother is a hamster and his father smells of elderberries.

Performance-wise, the game is well optimized, so you won’t be needing a NASA funded computer to run it. The game however isn’t bug-free. The grappling hook has a 50/50 chance of actually deploying, pretty aggravating when you wish to grapple while in mid-air. The AI can’t see Lily even when she’s basically breathing on their shoulderguards, but can see you perfectly in the dark. Lily herself is sometimes a nuisance – during one chapter her pathfinding code, I presume, broke as she basically sat inches away from the exit. I tried reloading several times, playing both lethally and non-lethally, but alas, she kept freezing in the exact same location, staring at the exit like a cow does at an upcoming train.

The game isn’t perfect by any stretch, and what it does good is merely decent compared to other games in the genre, but it’s a short game that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The time mechanic, coupled with the unique escorting you have to do make this game:

A Must-Avoid / A Try During Sale / A Must-Have

Annnd that’s a wrap! I hope you guys enjoyed my first review, any thoughts or tips would be very helpful. Until next time!

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