Shardlight (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 08.03.2016

Review for Shardlight on PC

Grundislav Games is back after the quirky jaunt of A Golden Wake, with the full force of experts WadjetEye behind it now for Shardlight, a dark tale of a devastated world where a plague is terrorising the general populace. After impressing in its pre-release state back in January, now Cubed3 dives into the final build to see if the early potential has been fulfilled.

Disease, hunger, death are all startling realities hanging over the people in the world of Shardlight. Lead character, Amy Wellard, is showing strong symptoms of the fatal Green Lung disease that has incapacitated so many since bombs fell and brought chaos twenty years prior to the events of the 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. Uncovering a conspiracy in the process…

Right from the get-go, 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. Nothing is ever truly out of the grasp of even the least seasoned of gamers, though, and even the odd occasion where a roadblock is hit, normally comes about from foolishness or mere oversight, rather than a puzzle being too obtuse. Anyone au fait with point-and-click titles of this ilk will be right at home, hints or not, and newcomers will be comfortable, yet challenged sufficiently. There are actually moments where uttering "Wow!" will involuntarily happen after successfully conquering a few of the craftier conundrums.

Screenshot for Shardlight on PC

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 same engine. Despite the pixelated appearance that comes with the territory, it evokes a strong emotional vibe throughout thanks to the impressive character art and detailed locales, connecting players to the dystopian world that 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, this tiresome element fades away after the first third of the adventure, and the rest of the challenges are extremely smart and really do get the old grey matter working hard. It also helps that the map system allows for jumping between locations, with certain areas being blocked off after having served their purpose, removing any chance of aimless wandering.

Also, the narrative and overall theme keep things going strong, and after the early stages, the game starts to expand further, removing the shackles completely and branching into what turns out to be a gripping quest. There is even scope to change how certain elements pan out, including how the adventure reaches its epic conclusion. Players will definitely find themselves torn about what to do in certain circumstances… Mixed together with a sombre, yet perfectly fitting, soundtrack, and the usual high standards of voice acting, Shardlight overcomes its early hurdles with ease to make it one of the most refreshing point-and-click adventures of recent times.

Screenshot for Shardlight on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

It may start off slow, but Shardlight quickly develops into a truly gripping adventure, filled with high levels of intrigue on the story side, complete with some thoroughly inventive puzzles, and the trademark touch of class that WadjetEye Games brings to the genre, making best use of the Adventure Game Studio engine. There can be a bit too much back-tracking early on, but the balance is right, overall, preventing frustration from creeping in, especially thanks to the areas to visit being so close together and the intelligent map system in place, meaning that it is not too tough to revisit places to find things that were initially missed. All-in-all, this is 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   

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