Rewind can’t save it all.
I have always been a fan of Frozenbyte games. I really enjoyed Trine 3 when a lot of people didn’t. I can easily say that any game they release I will give a fair shake. Their newest game, Shadwen, tries to do some unconventional things, but ultimately it falls short in numerous aspects, making it feel almost unfinished in a way.
Shadwen is a puzzle stealth game where the player must navigate an area by sneaking around. The trick is, when the player is not moving, time stands still. This allows players to move the camera around for better views and to scan the environment for distractions to use. It gives players breathing room for them to plan out their next course of action. Time even stops in mid-air.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Price I’d pay: $10
Shadwen’s story revolves around a woman who meets a young girl named Lily who was being harassed by a town guard. After her rescue, Lily decides to follow Shadwen, the thing she doesn’t know is that Shadwen is on a mission to assassinate the king.
The story itself is told through mainly still cut scenes with voice acting played over them. While not particularly bad, the voice acting works in the most basic of levels. The unfortunate thing is, the story is just not that compelling. Depending on the player’s actions, the story may deviate in ways. For instance, one of the first choices in the game is to either kill a guard in front of the child or scare him away. The game specifically states that certain things will influence the story.
The most unique thing about Shadwen is the freeze time mechanic. It most certainly helps out both in the stealth and the platforming. Using the grappling hook to traverse areas can be a bit of a challenge, but by letting go of the movement stick, time freezes and I can then move the camera around to find another grappling point while in mid-air. It can even come with some really neat moments. Along with that, the complete removal of fail states is also a nice addition. Since being spotted can result in a game over, I can simply reverse time like the old Prince of Persia himself and try the last move a different way. It really adds to the gameplay in a good way.
The main gameplay is focused around platforming and stealth. It comes off a bit like a puzzle game. Figuring out where to go and what to use in the environment as a distraction for guards is the name of the game. Unfortunately, doing this is clunky more times than not. Much like Trine, most of the environment is physics-based. Using the grappling hook to pull a barrel off a balcony can either work perfectly or awkwardly fall to the side and not distract anything.
On top of that, the game just looks so bland at times. It ranges from ugly to serviceable. The game is very dark for the most part, which fits in with the entire stealth gameplay, but I think it’s also there to mask the looks.
Shadwen is not a bad game, but it is completely in the middle of the road for me. There are some issues that really drag down the gameplay, but at the same time, I really enjoyed the time mechanics. It made it both an easier experience as well as an awkward one. It’s a give and take with this game. I like some parts of it, but dislike the unpolished nature of it. It’s like they make it even out to an average game. It’s not bad for a weekend retreat, but I’d still wait for a price drop.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.