Endless Legend: Shadows (PC) Review

By Athanasios 13.09.2015

Review for Endless Legend: Shadows on PC

The overall complexity, and slow-pace, plus micro-management-heavy gameplay of Endless Legend might have discouraged many a strategy fan from trying it out, but luckily for those that did, it's actually a 4X gem of immense quality, something evident in the majority of reviews, including Cubed3's. Since its biggest strength is probably its race diversity, with each one requiring a completely different way of playing, it's nothing sort of great news that the Shadows expansion adds one more; a race that introduces the wonders of espionage to the fantasy land of Auriga.

What is Endless Legend? It's a 4X TBS, which means that every single small detail must be taken care of, and on every single step. While this occasionally makes things feel tedious, the end result is mostly addictive, captivating, as well as hard to learn and impossible to master. It handles resource management, and exploration/expansion, in a wonderful, unique way, offering a varied - and balanced - roster of playable factions, and it seamlessly blends diplomacy with actual war, although the battles are definitely the weakest part. Yeah, it's a hungry time-muncher, but a very pleasant one.

For a £9.00 expansion, Shadows doesn't bring much to the table, save for two things: the 'Forgotten' faction, and the mechanics that it specialises in. The new kid on the block looks good, and, similar to the rest, has its own interesting lore. Then again, the focus was never on visuals and plot, but on the gameplay, and since these interesting people are a bunch of shadowy, dagger-wielding fellows that were left to rot on a hole by their own people… they are not exactly the diplomats of the team.

Screenshot for Endless Legend: Shadows on PC

Exile has forced this band of distrustful survivors to use everything at their disposal to get back on their feet, and instead of diplomacy, expansion, mercantile, industrialism, science, and so on, they will rely on hiding in the shadows - not that they cannot fight; they can, and they hit quite hard, but they are not exactly very durable. Their main strategy, and the one that they excel at, is infiltration, which in practice means that they must enter the cities of their opponents with their hero units, and do some damage from within.

While on "spy mode," heroes slowly become more familiar with the city that they have snuck into, and can, thus, start doing a little bit of sabotaging: reduce the population by one unit, assassinate any heroes that might act as governors, damage production, or even decrease the morale of the whole empire, which is an excellent thing to do before actually attacking a heavily defended territory. With espionage, however, comes anti-espionage, leading to frequent scans for troublemakers, and a high risk when attempting to do something bad.

Screenshot for Endless Legend: Shadows on PC

Note that, while the new faction is the expert of the spying game, all factions can use the new "tools" to infiltrate, spy, sabotage, assassinate, just not as well as them. Additionally, everyone can pillage the villages, watchtowers, and rare resource extractors outside the city walls, in order to make a quick buck, and, most importantly, temporally disable their benefits. Finally, all empires can use new stealth units, and can equip their heroes with special items that give them espionage abilities.

All these are great and all, but there is one questionable mechanic concerning the new faction's relationship with the resource that unlocks new technologies - science. Like the Broken Lords who can't generate food and must buy out the population with Dust (Endless Legend's magically-imbued gold), the Forgotten can't generate science, and must rely on stealing tech from other empires, or buying it - both options having the benefit of being instant. While this is an interesting system, it's somewhat unbalanced at the moment; way too expensive when buying, and not exactly that useful when spying, especially if the opponent isn't really into technological advancement.

Screenshot for Endless Legend: Shadows on PC

Shadows makes the core game even more complex and challenging than before, but also considerably more time-consuming. Surely, most fans of the 4X sub-genre are used to that, and Endless Legend is one of the best examples, but it should be mentioned once more, maybe for those who "sit on the fence" when it comes to whether Endless Legend is more of a chore than a great bundle of TBS entertainment. The real problem, however, lies elsewhere. While the price is not that high, and although this product is surprisingly fine-tuned and bug-free, this DLC isn't exactly brimming with content. One new faction, the espionage/sabotage tools, and... and nothing else, really. In conclusion: the ride is still a very pleasant one, but with a little bit more effort it could almost be perfect.

Screenshot for Endless Legend: Shadows on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Shadows expansion adds espionage into the fantasy - with a dash of sci-fi - world of Endless Legend, and it does so in a very good way. Is it a must buy, though? Like previous downloadable packs, it's a high quality product, but also a bit weak on the quantity department… and a bit pricey for what is actually in store. Furthermore, while the new Forgotten faction is very enjoyable to play with, it is slightly unbalanced - not much, but even "slightly" can ruin the entertainment value of a TBS. Despite the few flaws, long-time fans can safely try this out. Greenhorns, however, are advised to either wait for an update or a price drop.

Developer

Amplitude

Publisher

Amplitude

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

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   

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