Shards of Eradine is a game developed by Cryptid Tech, and like my tag line says. It’s a game that’s like Pokémon, but a tad bit bawdy. Condensed, the story follows the would-be saviour of the planet, on a quest to gather all of the different parts of Eradine’s heart to stop the forces of evil. As far as lewd content is concerned, it’s a little on the wayside so for those looking for a “game first, hentai second” experience. This is a game that ticks that box, almost too well for what it offers.
First the positives, the art style is really nice. Featuring a relatively diverse colourful palette, it creates an adorable gallery of “monsters”/”cuties” to catch. Whilst the catch pool isn’t large, it has a solid amount of choice that manages to keep most things relatively tame. And barring the final boss, there is little to no grind needed, unless trying to unlock the CGs (Computer Graphics, a term coined in Visual Novels for its artwork). But in terms of how cohesive everything feels, it’s a little off at times. Namely with our would-be saviour.
Compared to most character designs, their super-deformed chibi art style is almost jarring when you see their character portraits. The prime example being the main protagonist (insert name). Aside the slight surprise our protagonist has an actual face in these types of games. When you’ve seen cute things, with round and distinct colour choice, the transition to see his face is somewhat jarring. Although this is a small nitpick, when considering the character you play as isn’t the most likeable. You start to lose interest in something that could’ve had some compelling plot (not the lewd kind, yet).
But what about the mechanics? Well they’re alright, nothing to write home about. The main complaint with the battle system is the animation time between the moves. As well as certain inconsistencies with the method of interaction, the implementation of a wheel for decision making is great for controllers. But not so much for standard mouse play per se, as well as a few interaction difficulties. The primary discomfort comes from the UI almost lagging at times, trying to figure out where the controller’s left analogue stick wants to point and the mouse being placed. At times, the mouse would hover over one of the icons and cause a momentary freak over the two inputs. Granted this could’ve been the fact I was using a laptop, where my hand could’ve been nudging by accident in some situations. But given how common this was, I don’t think I’m entirely to blame for this mishap. Also, the lack of information in the UI is painfully bland as well as navigating it. Being very barebones, upon trying to navigate the UI to try and find out what each move did proved to be a hassle. The only option appearing to be placing the monster you want to check inside a crystal, then trying to take them back out to see what moves they have, and what they do. By no means is this necessary, but it’s points like this that show that this game feels more “early access” than final product.
To the developer’s credit, they are aware of certain bugs and issues. As well as dialogue being too vague for certain issues, where I contacted one of the developers on Discord to resolve an issue, that I thought was a bug. And whilst I was reviewing this, they did push out an update that fixed previous issues. And as much as I did enjoy the game, it just doesn’t have the polish I’ve come to expect from eroge of this genre. Whilst more could be done, it definitely feels like a 1.0 version of the game.
However, that’s not to say the game doesn’t feature good qualities (besides the eroge). The writing remains light-hearted, and should updates in terms of story content be provided. It can flesh it out to be beyond a 4-6 hour main campaign from my experience. Its current state of writing is fine, being very light-hearted and trying to be satirical, it isn’t going to win awards for it. It has the seed and content that could’ve fleshed it out further, turning it from “a tale of two nitwits” to “a journey of two nitwits”. Not a great improvement, but it’s a small change from just being “okay”. Its soundtrack is better than average from experience, but in terms of mixing it could’ve been better. One point being when the track loops, it’s relatively obvious. And in terms of overall repetitiveness, it’s not as bad as Pokémon. Some of the present tracks are great, to the point I hated going into an encounter because it was only in the middle bit that the song hits its stride. One notable track change that caught my ear was the change from volcano to sewers, the two being very jarring but in a good way.
Last negative to note is the map design being off. The game struggles to balance linear and branching paths, with a single navigation puzzle sending me into a tizzie of “water temple” frustration. In hindsight, I was being blind, kind of. One example is the placement of objectives at the beginning, if I were to summarise the critical path of the player it’s go straight ahead, turn back, take a left, then a right, keeping going straight, now take the left that you missed earlier to reach the objective. Not the greatest, but this does boil into a “gameplay Vs setting”. So take what you will, but at least the town feels like a town.
Now to the lewd parts, they’re CGs. If the play experience wasn’t as polished as it could’ve been, the CGs are above average in terms of artstyle consistency. This helps give it extra marks, minus a slight weird bug. Where I somehow unlocked CGs I didn’t even try to get, and some locking me out. Compared to previous Nutaku eroge games I’ve tried, this is on the better end of the spectrum where the variety makes sense. And unlike other games, it doesn’t exactly revile with the ero and presents it as is. Bland for some, it works best since you don’t have weird intervals of slight confusion. For instance, two characters decide to have sex in the middle of a impending doomsday. Or better yet, waking up from a long slumber and instead of saving the day you steal some apples and make an apologetic apple pie. Yeah, I ain’t making a judgement call on whether or not the CGs are incredible. But, as a man of culture. They allow the mind to wonder freer than a flowing river, just imagine the sound of a river stream. There’s a meme somewhere in there.
Shards of Eradine (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Slightly better than average, Shards of Eradine is a short but sweet affair of parodying eroge with one-liners. The artstyle leverages extra points for consistency and strong aesthetics. Just don’t get disappointed by the lack of voice works and white waterfalls.