When you think of the action RPG genre you probably immediately think of the Diablo series. This is a good assumption because that series defined this genre to a tee. We have seen tons of games release and try to put their own spin on the already proven formula. Some games knock it out of the park and some don’t, fortunately with Shadows Awakening, they succeeded. Shadows Awakening is an action-RPG game from the folks over at Games Farm that released on August 31st of this year. Set in an already established universe, Shadows Awakening does a great job of bringing you into the story and showing you the world. Great graphics, fully voiced dialogue and unique gameplay drive this ARPG up the ladder as one of the best, only to be bogged down by stiff animations and a steep beginning curve.
Admittedly I have not played any other game in the Heretic Kingdoms Saga, so going into Shadows Awakening was a fresh experience. You are immediately introduced to the character you will play as throughout the game, the Devourer. The Devourer is a demon that can take control of different vessels for his own gain. The Devourer will take control of one of three powerful vessels in the beginning of the game. Your choices in Shadows Awakening weigh on the Heretic Kingdoms themselves, so multiple playthroughs are encouraged. Each of these three, “main characters,” have extremely different storylines to playthrough. This is due in part to them being dead for different amounts of time. The character I chose first was Evia, who has been dead for 300 years whereas there was another character that was only dead for I think a year. Their outlooks are drastically different and this is shown with help from the fully voice acted dialogue. The Devourer will also change based on your decisions, which will help you unlock the multiple different endings, if you’re a completionist.
The party system in Shadows Awakening is a unique one. Technically the Devourer and your first character are your main characters in the game. There are a total of fourteen other characters you can unlock to join your party of up to four. Each character brings something different to the table. During combat you can actively switch between each of these characters. So you have the Devourer and three other characters. The three other characters will have their own skill-sets, equipment and talents to work with, making synergy an important element of combat. The Devourer exists in a plane of his own, the Shadow Realm. The Physical and Shadow realm can be swapped between freely, making two completely different worlds to explore. The Shadow Realm has its own enemies and loot for the Devourer to explore through. Changing to this realm will also open up paths that only the Devourer can go through, making searching for secrets that much better.
Speaking of loot, characters can equip a plethora of different pieces of gear, that for the most part, change their appearance as well. To me, this is an important feature to have in an RPG to really nail that role playing experience. Something I noticed was that most of the better gear was either found by crafting or buying it from a merchant. This leaves the loot exploration in the dungeons a little less meaningful. Luckily, this is balanced out by an excellent crafting system. The Devourer even has his own set of gear that changes his look as well, making for an intense customization system with the characters.
Combat is also a keystone in this genre as it has action in its name. When you have a full party, the combat in Shadows Awakening gets intense and complex. Each character has three active skill slots they can use in battle. When you use an ability it naturally goes on cooldown but when you switch characters, that cooldown will still countdown. This means I can burn all of my moves of Evia then switch over to another party member and unleash their abilities as well. You will have to plan out which party members you want to use to get the most out of your abilities. All out of abilities to use? Switch back to the Devourer as a lot of his skills can also affect the enemies in the real world, like freezing them in place. Combat does have a steep curve though, especially depending on your starting character. If you don’t allot your stats the right way you will die very quickly. My only other complaint is that a lot of the animations feel slow and stiff. In an action RPG these should feel fluid and smooth as well as transition well between combat and movement. Restoring your health and mana is done by a stone you can equip that holds a certain amount of charges. You will need to balance how you use this so you don’t run out of charges in important fights.
Shadows Awakening is by far one of my favorite ARPG’s that I have played since Diablo. The unique party system, fully voiced dialogue, gorgeous visuals and the in depth crafting system makes this game one you need to try. Shadows Awakening is also available on the PlayStation 4, which I would imagine would be just as good, although I played it on PC. I am excited to get back into this game to grind out the other characters’ stories and abilities. Buy this one if you are an ARPG fan, it won’t let you down!
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Review statement: This game was supplied by the developer for the sake of this review.