In 1996 Diablo was released in what would be the start of one of the most influential game series of the modern era, an epic dungeon crawler with story and gameplay to boot. Many games have taken inspiration from the Blizzard IP including Shadows Awakening and its predecessors. A series of isometric action RPGs full of dungeons to scour, secrets to unfold, and a whole lot of monsters to kill.
Shadows Awakening is the third game in series of RPGs, with the previous two titles Kult: Heretic Kingdoms and Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms both building to the story of this game. Luckily if you missed the 2004 and 2014 title respectively you’re in luck Shadows Awakening does a good job catching you up. In short, a long time ago a group of people wanted to destroy all religion in their kingdoms, and they did, using these powerful artifacts which ended up corrupting them. Skip forward and now the world teeters on the brink of destruction.
The game starts you off as a demon known as a devourer, demons who can steal souls and travel through those people’s bodies, who is summoned and offered a pact to help a mysterious stranger in exchange for souls. From there you embark on a journey where decisions you make throughout the game will change not only the events you experience but how the story ends. For the most part Shadows Awakening’s story is solid but not particularly standout, the morality system which is somewhat like that of Fable and adds a nice bit of choice, and the lore strewn throughout the game is strong and is more than worth a gander as you explore.
Shadows Awakening’s isometric real time action will be familiar to most who have played any titles in the genre recently though it separates itself with one of its core gameplay elements which allows you to switch between three souls in the human world and the demon in the shadow world in real time. This allows you to quickly chain attacks and skills with your crew of souls that you can collect and mix throughout the game to defeat enemies that you’ll need to properly plan for to beat. This carries further into another unique portion of the game which is the puzzle solving; from simple fetch quests to intricate timing puzzles you’ll learn to navigate to and through the game with your squad as your devourer can travel through normally inaccessible areas while other souls you’ve collected can break down walls and pick locks.
This system is one of the more standout features as the flow between characters is mostly seamless and quickly becomes second nature as you learn to problem solve. The controls are tight though combat lacks the punch that you find in games like Diablo, with attacks feeling hollow at times while spells can be hit or miss. The RPG elements are extremely solid in the stat department, really allowing you to allocate your points and match your gear, a deeper skill tree would’ve been nice but with the number of characters you can play as the range of skills is fair.
One of this game’s greatest assets are it’s visuals; with a visual style very similar to Diablo the environments and characters really do look great especially in cities or open landscapes where the lighting and colors can really pop. The soundtrack is also enjoyable and matches whether you’re cooking in a desert city or and skulking through a dungeon. Voice is also pretty solid too though there are a few characters and NPCs that can be a little flat or overacted.
The run time of Shadows Awakening is roughly 20 hours straight through, and with three major endings, good variation depending which route you take, and tons of side quests you’ll have more than the your money’s worth for the 40 dollar price tag. While not entirely ground breaking Shadows Awakening’s original gameplay mechanics, strong RPG elements, and total replay ability make Shadows Awakening a solid title to scratch your action RPG itch all night.