What Lurks Beneath the Shadows…
With the recent announcement of Diablo 3 receiving a port to the Nintendo Switch, I found myself wishing that Blizzard would make a new Diablo game instead of re-rereleasing this one for the umpteenth time. That’s when I managed to recall a game that I was able to preview at E3 2018 that seemed to promise an experience that would be familiar to those that are fond of the Diablo series but with a particular touch all its own. That game is called Shadows: Awakening and it is soon to be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
In Shadows: Awakening, players take on the role of a being known as a “Devourer” – an otherworldly ghoul of sorts that has the ability to consume the souls of deceased humans and obtain great power by doing so. However, unlike the other Devourers that exist, the main character of this game has a weird problem in relation to his ability. When he consumes souls, the personalities, thoughts, and memories of the original soul bearer remain inside the Devourer’s vessel. In addition to this, the Devourer himself becomes more human-like with each soul that he consumes which leads to bits of insanity as well. What this results in is one very interesting case of Otherworldy Disassociate Identity Disorder. Throughout the adventure, the player is tasked with trying to accomplish the Devourer’s goal of obtaining power for world domination or possibly something more altruistic like defeating your fellow Devourers.
An Adventure Spanning Two Realms: Light…
Gameplay takes places in two places: The Shadow Realm and the Mortal Realm. In the Mortal Realm, the Devourer will assume the form of any one of the human souls that he has captured. Each of these forms can be switched between on the fly and they come with their own equipment builds, stats, and move sets. One of the more interesting things that I found while playing the demo is that the game’s battle system functions a lot like Diablo-style action RPG but battles were designed in a way as to encourage between properly utilizing all of the vessels in the player’s possession in order to battle with as little ability cooldown as possible. In addition, moves that one of the vessels has access to may be beneficial to that of another. A small example would be something like a melee fighter having a special move that, upon contact, does damage and also reduces the target’s magic defense. Afterwards, control could be switched to a magic fighter in order to take advantage of the opponent’s now weakened state.
Layered just beneath the Mortal Realm is the Shadow Realm where ghosts and spirits gather. It is in this world that players control the Devourer directly. He’ll be faced with various apparitions and monsters as he traverses this place to resolve whatever matters need to be addressed here. Often, the player will be faced with a predicament that is barring their access in the Mortal Realm that can be resolved by solving some sort of puzzle in the Shadow Realm. In addition, there are times where a battle may require the player to engage combat in BOTH locations in order to succeed. For example, in the event that the opponent is another Devourer possessed legion, then the player will be battling against the Devourer and its human vessels at the same time. I was able to partake of a battle where I had to battle to weaken the Devourer in order to prevent its human vessel from getting too much power so that I could overtake it.
Weighted Choices That Matter
In conversation with the representative of the developer, Games-Farm, I was told that players can look forward to a very story-driven narrative experience as they traverse the world of Shadows: Awakening. There will be multiple endings and a multitude of characters whom, based on your decisions and recruitment habits, may not necessarily be willing or able to join your team. In addition, secret characters should also be accessible. Locations in the world may also require the proper vessel and/or its memories and knowledge in order to gain access to its interior. This means that multiple playthroughs may be required in order to see all that the game has to offer.
The idea of an action-RPG that plays heavily like Diablo but with a much more narrative driven focus is something that sounds right up my alley. In addition, being able to level-up and manage multiple skill trees across a team of human vessels without having to start over and play a new game is equally appealing. I can say with all honesty that I am much looking forward to the launch of Shadows: Awakening later this year and, if you are a fan of Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 then you likely should be as well!