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Shadwen Review

Shadwen Review

You may be wondering why it has taken me this long to review Shadwen. I wrote a preview a few months back and was interested in seeing how the game would feel as a full product. I’m still wondering now.

Shadwen is a mix of the stealth-action and puzzle genres, tasking you with escorting a young girl, Lily, through rooms of armed guards without being spotted. The big gimmick with Shadwen is the grapple hook - you can use it to swing from things, climb on things, and pull on things. By using items and the environment to distract the guards’ attention, Lily will trot from hiding spot to hiding spot until you reach the end of the level.

shadwen shot 01

The mechanic that really makes Shadwen stand out is related to time. Time only moves when you do, or when you want it to. This reduces the need for snap judgments and allows you to carefully plan every movement. Combined with the grapple hook, it becomes incredibly simple to swing from rafters and to target objects in the environment.

There’s also a crafting element, with Shadwen (the character) able to combine parts littered around the world to create new equipment based on obtained schematics. These items can be in the form of things like traps and decoys - all vital aids in maintaining stealth.

My issue came about when I finally started playing the retail version. Quick note, I’d written a preview based on the PC alpha but the review code was for PlayStation 4. It was immediately apparent that this was a *dark* game - of course it is, it’s a game about sneaking through shadows. But when it’s not just the shadows that are dark, but nearly the entire world, there’s something wrong.

shadwen shot 02

I had the in-game settings cranked up to maximum brightness, I had my Playstation 4 and my monitor at the same settings as I always do, and yet it was nigh on impossible to see half the screen. Imagine trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with the lights switched off.

In the third chapter, I had to help Lily cross a market square - stalls, wheelbarrows, and crates galore! A non-handicapped player would be able to see where all the guards stood, the paths that can be taken, the objects that can be manipulated, and the wooden perches that can be climbed to - but not me.

To make matters worse, the controls are also janky as hell. The few times where I could see what I was doing, I would often still fail due to the somewhat unpredictable nature of Shadwen’s movement. While falling, it was difficult to predict her momentum to land on specific platforms or in piles of hay - prompting a rewind as she careens off my desired path and into a guard’s sight.

shadwen shot 04

When using the grapple too, I had issue with the controls. While I was searching for simply a button to pull on the rope, I found instead that some controls were bound to multiple buttons - why do I need two buttons for tightening the rope? And some logical solutions wouldn’t work without reason - if I continue to tighten the rope, an action that has Shadwen pulling on the rope, should it not then pull the object once the rope is taut enough? I guess not.

Overall, I think Shadwen could be a good game, but for whatever reason I was unable to play it as the developer intended. Other reviewers don’t seem to have encountered the same issue as I had, so perhaps it’s just a one-off. Consider perusing other reviews before making a purchase decision, reader, as I am going to have to give Shadwen a low score. Ultimately, I found it to be unplayable.

3.00/10 3

Shadwen (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)

The game is unenjoyable, but it works.

Overall, I think Shadwen could be a good game, but for whatever reason I was unable to play it as the developer intended. Other reviewers don’t seem to have encountered the same issue as I had, so perhaps it’s just a one-off. Consider perusing other reviews before making a purchase decision, reader, as I am going to have to give Shadwen a low score. Ultimately, I found it to be unplayable.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Tom Bickmore

Tom Bickmore

Staff Writer

Biggest mug at GameGrin

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