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Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards Review

Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards Review

Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards is a top-down, Diablo-style, hack-and-slash RPG, interspersed with comic book style cutscenes. I was particularly excited to try the game because of the South American setting and story, which is something I have not often seen covered. It was created to follow the comic book series “The World of Aluna” from Paula Garces and Antonio Hernandez, which follows the protagonist Aluna as she returns to her homeland in the New World in the 1500s after being taken as a child by Spaniards. Aluna also features as a hero in Heroes of Newerth, a MOBA released in 2010. 

Sentinel of the Shards focuses on the story of Aluna on her return to the New World as she grapples to come to terms with who she is - the daughter of a Spanish Conquistador and Pachamama, the goddess of the Earth - and what the shard she was given at birth means. She discovers that the shard she owns is but one of many that are essentially parts of Pachamama that were formed upon her death as she protected her daughter from death by meteor. The shards are, as you would expect, extremely powerful and as such are being hunted by the antagonist of this story - Nagaric, an evil priest spreading his corruption throughout the land. Aluna’s mission is to find and retrieve those shards and help save the Tairona who are followers of Pachamama and have accepted her as one of their own.

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The plot is pretty great and is helped along by the use of cutscenes that show up on screen in a comic book style. It’s a shame there aren’t more of these as although the character dialogue is well done, it slows the pace of the plot right down and it’s easier to get lost. There are lots of different named characters as well as minor ones where the dialogue is less impactful, and after getting a few generic responses from villagers you become less inclined to continue interacting at all. 

The environments you traverse, whilst visually very beautiful, are similarly generic. Initially I found myself exploring every inch of each map but found little reason to continue doing so. Some hidden loot or replenishing crystals lie around but nothing really enticing or meaningful to make it worthwhile. You end up backtracking often when working out which direction your next plot point is located so exploring just feels unnecessary and unengaging.

The combat definitely holds your attention but mainly because there is so much of it. I played Sentinel on the PC and the combination of mouse and keyboard controls were very clunky and not intuitive to use, I imagine this would function much better on consoles. It’s a basic hack-and-slash system, with skills assigned to different buttons, making up melee, ranged, and magic attacks. You assign a limited number of skills to your keyboard slots with a mouse-click-to-move system. WASD are not used for movement and instead are directional rolls for dodging, which takes some getting used to. 


You can mix and match the category of attacks you want to specialise in, with each category (melee, ranged, and magic as mentioned above) coming with its own pros and cons. Melee is powerful but it means enemies will have to be close by to attack and you can easily end up surrounded. Ranged means you can pick enemies off from afar but once they’re close you’re stuck rolling away to get more attacks in with no melee defence. Magic abilities are the best of both worlds but somewhat less intuitive to use and it can be frustrating to utilise when you are constantly becoming overwhelmed with enemies. 

And there are a *lot* of enemies. Even on lower difficulties when the damage you take is miniscule and you have your handy neverending (but somewhat time reliant) health potions, some groups will have you fighting for what feels like an eternity. This repeats a lot and it means the combat ends up feeling quite monotonous. On some occasions I just ran through swaths of enemies towards my goal to trigger a cutscene. 

It would be easier to focus on a fighting style based on what your current best weapon is, if you weren’t almost as overwhelmed with loot as you are by enemies. You will receive new gear as you explore and defeat enemies, but each piece is tailored towards one of the three categories mentioned earlier. So you might be happy with your melee set-up but receive a weapon that half your abilities can’t be used with, so you’ll have to spend that gold to switch it up or stick with your build and be saddled with subpar stats. It really is luck of the draw and even purchasing loot from the merchant gives you random items that may or may not be better than what you currently have. 

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It’s such a shame because Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards has the potential to be an excellent game with intriguing storytelling and unique characters but it gets dragged down by a tedious combat system and a world that offers little substance. I am intrigued by the story of Aluna though, so will probably be checking out those comics. 

5.50/10 5½

Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards (Reviewed on Windows)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards has the potential to be an excellent game with intriguing storytelling and unique characters but it gets dragged down by a tedious combat system and a world that offers little substance.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Emsey P. Walker

Emsey P. Walker

Junior Editor

Emsey is a lover of games and penguins. Apparently she does some writing too...somewhere...

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