Shadwen (PC) Review

By Athanasios 03.07.2016

Review for Shadwen on PC

It's hard to stand amongst other stealth titles, because it's not that easy to deviate much from the standard recipe: stay out of sight, hide behind objects, remain silent, and slit some throats. The trick is to have something other than that. Metal Gear Solid had a cinematic feel to it, Deus Ex: Human Revolution had the protagonist taking advantage of his ultra-high-tech gadgets, while Hitman Absolution was all about hiding in plain sight. Luckily, Shadwen also has its own unique twist, but too bad it wasn't implemented that well.

It's always great when somebody looks cool in a subtle way. Take the titular protagonist, for instance: dressed in typical medieval assassin attire, no gargantuan bosom getting in her way, sporting a simple, everyday face, and just holding a nice little dagger in her hand. Truly, her most striking feature is her long braided ponytail, and yet she has that - hard to explain - special something that makes you want to learn more about her. Too bad none of this will happen here, though.

The main premise is that Shadwen saves a young orphaned girl named Lily on her way to killing the monarch of this land, and must now "escort" her through the soldier-filled barracks, dungeons, and castle yards, if possible without her finding out her profession. Quite the interesting concept but, unfortunately, this never really takes advantage of it. These two will exchange a few words between each level, but their relationship will never really evolve.

Screenshot for Shadwen on PC

Despite the disappointing and, almost non-existent, plot, this is the pretty much a standard stealth tactics action videogame. While not perfect in its mechanics, since the controls and camera will occasionally act as they please, and although most of the things that the protagonist can do have been done again and again in this genre, this can be quite fun, with Shadwen being able to do all the standard stealthy stuff like moving silently or do some acrobatics, through to using a neat grappling hook to reach higher places or pull objects from a distance.

Interestingly enough, it's possible to activate a SUPERHOT-like feature that makes time move only when Shadwen moves, too. Sadly, since this isn't a fast-paced shooter or something, it mostly gets in the way and is best left disabled. It's also possible to rewind time, which is far more useful, since it enables fixing any mistakes on the spot by just holding a button for a few seconds.

Screenshot for Shadwen on PC

As expected, though, this system completely destroys everything. Why approach a new location carefully when it's possible to just run over there, check where the guards currently are, and then just step back a few seconds? Due to this, Shadwen is simply the easiest title of its kind, as well as the least intense. In fact, everything is so easy that the simplistic crafting available, which enables the creation of various traps (and more) by gathering the required items, was never needed during this review.

Simply put, the only challenge that's left is "opening" a path for Lily. No, no blood has to be spilled, since guards just need to get distracted for a bit. No, it's not that she can die either as, in fact, guards never see her, since she just runs back if someone is standing in her way. Bad AI? Again no as she will behave a bit strange every now and then… but she is generally quite co-operative, so what seems to be the problem?

Screenshot for Shadwen on PC

The problem is simply the fact that in order to get the "good" ending, Lily must never see Shadwen killing anyone. Again, this is a great idea, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Besides the fact that none of the available endings are rewarding, since Shadwen is extremely easy, keeping Lily's innocence intact just takes more time - not effort. Those who don't care about this can simply kill everyone and then just endure a few seconds of Lily getting angry between intersections.

The final nail in the coffin, however, is how this journey feels (and is) the same from start to finish. It's always: hide over here, push that to distract those guys, and then just run towards there, with little to no variation between levels on the design front. In fact, even in terms of audio-visuals (which are great in the quality stakes), it is always dark generic castle yard after dark generic castle yard, inhabited with the same few kinds of guards, and with nothing more remarkable than the occasional candle, statue, or moonlit sky, which is quite disappointing from the developer of the colourful and diverse Trine series.

Screenshot for Shadwen on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


Shadwen's first few levels will surely give some amount of fun to those who like this type of game, and the fact that the main character has to keep a little girl out of sight will, initially, feel like quite the exciting concept. Unfortunately, gameplay-wise, this is quite a flawed product, with its main problem being the fact that it requires doing the exact same thing for more than 10, almost identical, levels.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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