Dec 15, 2014
The Shadow Sun is an epic RPG that follows in the footsteps of other epic RPGs, like the venerable Aralon: Sword & Shadow and the more recent Runesword games. Does its huge world equal huge fun?
The Shadow Sun has some in depth character customization. Like any good RPG, there are lot of skills to pick from. Rather than traditional RPG classes, TSS allows the player to simply pick what their character is good at. Thus, it is possible to have a tough warrior or squishy mage, a spellsword, a more sneaky sort, or some other mix. There are proficiencies for each weapon type in the game including swords, axes and bows, so it’s easy to build just the type of character you want. There are also stats like strength and charisma to distribute as you see fit. These stats have more of an effect than combat as well. For example higher perception allows you to see secret doors and charisma is needed for some dialogue choices to appear.
After character creation the player embarks on an epic journey through a massive city and its surrounding area. What starts off as a routine diplomatic mission ends up changing the fate of the world. A mysterious plague, the local king’s sudden decent into madness and the general aggressiveness of everyone in the world point to some dark plan being unfurled.
The Shadow Sun features plenty of combat. Combat in TSS feels a bit like a MMORPG. There is an attack button for basic melee attacks and a row of icons for special attacks, magic and items. Special attacks are vital to surviving in TSS. They can stun enemies, preventing them from hitting you or simply damage multiple enemies or hit very hard. Combat is fast and fun and there is plenty of loot to be grabbed.
The Shadow Sun also does a great job of providing a fun world to explore. There are lots of houses and caves and the like just waiting to be found and looted. The game is full of people to talk to as well. The majority of the game’s quests are found by chatting to people and like Skyrim and other major RPGs, TSS plays much better if the player takes their time and savours it.
Like any good open world RPG, solving quests is down to the player’s choice. Most quests give you a choice of who to side with or a moral choice to be a jerk or not.
For example an early quest is acquiring a scared statue for a religious order. It has been stolen and is being bid on in a nearby auction house. The player can either legitimately pay the exorbitant price for the statue or simply take it and kill the 5 or so guards on the way out, despite the leader of the Order asking you not to use violence to retrieve the statue. The player can then lie about using violence or not. Choosing to tell the truth earns a reward.
Another situation is finding some slaves escaping their slain captors. The player can choose to let them go, or mercilessly kill the former slaves to take the money they were using to make a new life for themselves.
There are also more traditional RPG quests that involve lots of combat. Whenever it’s exterminating giant rats in a sewer, or wiping out a horde of crazed plague victims and smugglers, The Shadow Sun provides plenty of fun combat.
A problem with The Shadow Sun is the weakness of the player’s allies. Every ally in the game is useful for little more than being a meatshield and can’t really kill enemies on their own. Their attacks are pathetically weak, they attack very slowly and they can’t level up or be given better equipment. It’s kind of lame when a legendarily powerful mage ends up slowly throwing weak fireballs at enemies, struggling to kill even the weakest monsters.
The Shadow Sun is also quite hard. A few strong enemies ganging up on the player can kill them very quickly indeed and those used to Skyrim will be in for a rude awakening. Armour and equipment provides minimal benefit and I found myself dying more than I expected. The weakness of player allies compounds this, but the challenge is welcome. Side quests are often all by required to toughen up enough to handle central quests.
The game’s map needs work. With hard to read text and an interface that doesn’t seem to respond unless you tap directly on a certain part of an icon it is needlessly hard to use.
Graphically, The Shadow Sun is a mixed bag. Environments look very nice and the game is packed with atmosphere and varied enemies to fight. The character models themselves though look rather primitive and a few years out of date. Aralon: Sword & Shadow which came out in 2011 has similar quality character models.
The Shadow Sun’s sound is very well done. Little touches, like the way that different amour sounds different as you move in it and how each item type make its own sound when you loot it really make the sound feel polished. There is a fair bit of voice acting and combat sounds nice and visceral.
The Shadow Sun is an excellent game that refines games like Aralon and adds in a lot of player choice and a much more coherent plot. With loads of fun questing on offer and a complete dearth of in app purchases The Shadow Sun is a fantastic game with a few foibles that need tightening.