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Shad’O Review

 

Shad’O was a game that caught my eye on Steam in the “Coming Soon” section a while back. While I have noticed a rise in Tower Defense games, Shad’O stood out with a unique art style and creative musical score. Does it stand up to big name tower defense titles; or will it hide in the…shadows?

The story of Shad’O is interesting as it reminds me of quite a few stories meshed into one. William is the character you control and it seems he has lost his memory. Which memory? Well pretty much everything. At nine years old William is not the bravest of people. Dressed like the child in Where the Wild Things Are, William has an arsenal of creatures that will light up his nightmares and destroy the darkness that is trying to absorb him. The story is rather quirky and has a very dark tone to it despite having a somewhat playful atmosphere. In a way, it reminds me of the scene where Tetsuo trips out and imagines the things around his room are alive and bleeding milk, except not as demented.

Shad’O is a call back to traditional tower defense games and it shows in the gameplay. You protect a point, in this case it is William’s memory. If too many enemies get to your memory, you lose the game. What makes this game slightly unique is the ability to generate your resources, or luminous. Every level has a dedicated area for you to place your creatures to absorb luminous and use it to create your defenses.

Your defenses look rather interesting and keep with a theme of cloth-like creatures with eyes and powers. There are about 10 or so different units you can place that range from luminous gatherers to units that shoot stuff. Each one is unique and they all serve a unique purpose. There is an upgrade system and after you beat a level, you are able to upgrade a unit. However, this is not a permanent one and you can only upgrade in battle after you purchase it.

There is another option, Spells. If you beat a level you have the option to purchase a spell that William can cast in a level to either support his defenses, or attack the shadows. Each spell is different, they are all animated and have an effect on the shadows or defenses. At first these seem useless, but a few levels in and you find yourself straining your brain on what to get, a tower upgrade or a new spell. The addition of spells makes it evident that there are three ways to play, Tower-Centric, Spell Dependant, and Hybrid. This is what I like about Shad’O. You can be a specialized build or a combination. It adds to the strategy factor and you can play this game a different way each time.

For added replayability, you can play the levels you have beaten in Nightmare Mode, which is a harder version of the levels where the shadows do more damage to your memory. Barring the nightmare mode the game does not have much replay value but it is still quite the long game with plenty of levels to test your skills.

The controls are tight, but the mouse movement is a bit choppy. The game runs well, but be sure to check your specs before buying it. Surprisingly enough, it uses a lot of computing power despite the look. The issues are minor, and the concept of the game holds up well and it stands on its own as a tower defense title. Okugi Studios did a very good job with this title. I give Shad’O an 8.5/10.

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