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Shadows of Adam Review

Shadows of Adam Review

Nostalgia goggles seem to be strapped tight to many people’s faces these days and anything that apes the videogames of yore sells like hotcakes. It’s no surprise, then, to see Shadows of Adam, a JRPG callback by developers Something Classic Games, causing something of a stir on Steam. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Shadows of Adam also attempts to improve things with a number of fresh takes on the genre.

In true JRPG style, Shadows of Adam is about the hero’s journey. Amidst a land that’s torn apart by magic and war, the village of Adam sits in relatively peace. As any gamer would know, that peace doesn’t last long and our hero Kellan has to abandon the town to pursue the legacy of his father and the mysteries of a magical book. He’s joined by three other companions - the traditional mage, rogue and monk - in his quest to rid the world of evil. The game is certainly not without its lore - in fact it's drenched in it. I went in expecting a by-the-numbers JRPG and was pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of backstory behind almost every nook and cranny. Each of the four main characters’ intricacies and histories are revealed as they journey together - in a true aping of the classic JRPGs this title is as much about the heroes as it is about battles, levelling up and questing.

The developers know when to speed things along. The game doesn’t linger on introductions, long-winded tutorials or unwelcome flashbacks and instead presents you with a series of short, sharp set piece areas. Enemies are also pre-staged on levels, meaning that there are no surprise encounters as you traverse the overworld. This is both a blessing and a curse - the game promises no grinding but sometimes an enemy can be the only thing between you and the next section when your party is on its last legs. Thankfully the game has a save system that allows you to quickly restore your progress from the menu. Shadows of Adam does away with explaining how its battle system works, throwing the player in and expecting them to know the jist of it. Considering that the game is designed to be a love letter to the classics, it can be expected. A player new to JRPGs who may have stumbled on Shadows of Adam might end up a little perplexed, though.

Shadows of Adam really excels when it comes to battles. The meat and bones of most RPGs, the combat system implemented in this title is really something. Encounters hinge on Action Points (AP), which are needed to perform every action from attacks to magic and skills. Every round of battle restores a tiny amount of AP to your characters, forcing the player to think tactically about when to use their most damaging abilities. When worked out properly and with your team levelled up sufficiently, your turns can be seamless flows of attacks, heals and counters without any need to search for potions or elixirs. It’s an innovative way to keep the player’s attention firmly on the fighting and not the menu screens.

That straightforwardness can be a drawback, however. In its attempts to be as streamlined as possible, Shadows of Adam loses almost all of its customisability. Equipment and skill progression, while consistent, rarely offers the player much choice. It simply comes down to a cycle of buying up all the best gear in the next hub town you come across and equipping it.

Graphically the game copies the style of many a JRPG through the ages. It’s a pixelated style that will be familiar to most, though it has a surprising level of detail and intricacy when heroes use their skills or when monsters appear in levels. The level design too is vivid, clear and enchanting, something impressive considering how little they are reused throughout the title. The game’s soundtrack consists of a variety of character, arena, battle and level themes that switch up on the fly and provide a little boost to the atmosphere the developers have tried to create. Boss battle tracks are especially well-made and can really up the intensity of combat.

The difficulty level of the game never really spikes throughout, but remains challenging. If you nod off for a minute and start hammering the attack button hoping to rush a fight you’ll be quickly picked off. My one complaint on this note revolves around the fact that I never really felt powerful (apart from the first few levels) or that my heroes were growing at a pace above the enemies. If you’re into a continuous challenge though, you may enjoy this feature more than me. Each character in your party will end up with a fair amount of skills to choose from as you head towards late game, though, so perhaps I used the wrong combinations.

It’s clear that Something Classic Games has poured a lot of love into Shadows of Adam, even to someone without much JRPG experience like myself. The game is a fantastic love letter to the genre and offers gamers a trip down memory lane. What will surprise you, though, is how it’s so much more than a cash-grab throwback to a bygone era, improving and surpassing the greats with a number of fresh mechanics. JRPG fans would be amiss not to check this one out.

7.50/10 7½

Shadows of Adam (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

The game is a fantastic love letter to the genre and offers gamers a trip down memory lane. What will surprise you, though, is how it’s so much more than a cash-grab throwback to a bygone era.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton

Staff Writer

Financial journalist by trade, GameGrin writer by choice. Writing skills the result of one million monkeys with one million typewriters.

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