Shardlight (PC) Preview

By Adam Riley 16.01.2016 1

Review for Shardlight on PC

The Blackwell series, A Golden Wake, Technobabylon… WadjetEye Games has either published or been actively involved in numerous high quality adventure titles that use the Adventure Game Studio development tool. As part of the OROW competition ("One Room, One Week" - making games based within one room using AGS, completing the project within just one week), Francesco Gonzalez of Grundislav Games (A Golden Wake), produced a small title called The Rebirth, whilst Ben Chandler (who helped out on the Blackwell releases) made The Reaper. Both free-to-play games alluded towards something bigger in the future…and now those plans are set to come to fruition. After an initial reveal at AdventureX in London back in December 2014, work has continued at a steady rate to polish everything as much as possible. Now, Cubed3 has been lucky enough to go hands-on with an early section of the resultant project's final build, to see how things are shaping up with Shardlight ahead of its March 2016 release.

Disease, hunger, death - all realities hanging over the people in Shardlight, the latest morose yarn being spun in the world of adventure gaming. Nothing is ever bright and happy, right? Well, certainly not for lead character Amy Wellard who is showing strong symptoms of the fatal Green Lung illness that has incapacitated so many since bombs fell and brought chaos twenty years prior to the events of this story at hand. Striving to prevent the same fate that others fell to, Amy's mission is to obtain a special vaccine by any means possible, even if it means taking on mundane 'lottery jobs' to win the chance of receiving the medication, or even going as far as joining rebels, infiltrating facilities run by the untouchable Aristocratic rulers, and going completely against her longstanding morals.

Screenshot for Shardlight on PC

In the early stages, there is plenty of variety in the puzzle stakes, from shooting down objects previously unreachable, to combining various items, through to remembering codes and patterns, all without any hand-holding. Purists will be overjoyed at being forced to figure out cryptic clues and force their way through alone, whilst newcomers may well bemoan the lack of even a tiny nudge in the right direction. In this play-through, only two real scenarios caused problems - the first down to sheer ignorance, overlooking something really obvious, and the other coming from not exploring all conversation avenues and, thus, being unable to access a new area on the map. Anyone au fait with point-and-click titles of this ilk, though, will be right at home, hints or not.

Visually akin to Technobabylon - thanks to Ivan Ulyanov being back on the team - Shardlight takes the AGS tool and squeezes as much out of it as possible to make this shine compared to similar games using the engine. Despite the pixelated appearance that comes with the territory, it evokes a strong emotional vibe throughout, connecting players to the dystopian world Amy et al are trapped within. It is Amy's objective to keep surviving, even for just one more hour, in order to find a cure and save everyone, herself included - no matter what the cost - and thanks to strong voice acting for her character, as well as the support roles, there is an instant draw, making those in control feel a true part of the action from the very start. Although there are a few too many moments of trekking back and forth in the initial stages, the rest of the challenges are smart and really do get the old grey matter working hard. Also, the narrative and overall theme keep things going strong, and towards to end of this early trial version, the game starts to expand further, removing the shackles completely and branching into what appears to be a gripping quest.

Screenshot for Shardlight on PC

Final Thoughts

Starting off somewhat slow, Shardlight definitely builds up intrigue levels as the early stages of the journey develop, to the point where there is a strong desire for more. Some of the puzzles are a little more obtuse than others, and there can be a bit too much back-tracking early on, but the balance so far is just about right, preventing frustration from creeping in. There are no hints included, so some gamers may find that to be disappointing, but with the areas included being so close together, it is not too tough to revisit places to find things that were initially missed. All-in-all, this is shaping up to be another strong addition to WadjetEye Games' line-up.

Developer

Grundislav Games

Publisher

Wadjet Eye Games

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This, I should note, is by the team behind A Golden Wake...and is a massive improvement on that game. Technocrat Games is the team behind Technobabylon. Slight difference, and it's very obvious in the game styles.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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