A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Classic "good vs. evil" theme gets tarnished by the unfolding story, which includes consuming the souls of heroes to make use of their abilities, skills, etc. Players do have some choice as to which end of the good-evil spectrum their characters fall.
Positive Role Models
Players are essentially bound to a demon whose purpose is to seek out and consume the souls of heroes, absorbing their memories and personalities in the process. From a gameplay perspective, that leaves the player open to either follow the darker path of the demon's nature to rule humanity or be influenced by the heroes and fight to save it.
Ease of Play
Lots to learn, between swapping out characters in your party while also shifting between the Shadow Realm and the mortal world. Switching realms becomes key to defeating certain enemies and solving some environmental puzzles.
Violence & Scariness
Players are constantly fighting against fantasy creatures, monsters, humans, etc., using wide arsenal of melee and ranged weapons, spells, other special abilities. Enemies often collapse or explode, with some splashes of blood left behind. There are occasionally some corpses that can be stumbled across in the environment.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some lines of dialogue have sexual references and innuendo, and many female characters are shown in revealing outfits.
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"Bastard" and "bitch" occasionally appear in dialogue.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Players are given the opportunity to drink with other characters, causing the screen to blur and triggering certain lines of dialogue to simulate being drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shadows: Awakening is an action/role-playing game available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows-based PCs. Players control a demonic entity that consumes and controls various heroes to gain their memories, personalities, and abilities, adding those characters as party members in the process. Players can choose to either follow a heroic path to save humanity or follow a darker path to help bring about its doom. Violence is fairly constant, with players fighting against waves of different creatures. While blood does appear regularly, there's nothing particularly gruesome or gory. The game's dialogue does include occasional swearing like "bastard" and "bitch," as well as some sexual innuendo, and players are given the option to get drunk at certain points in the game.
Is It Any Good?
This unique role-playing game (RPG) has a clever plot twist, but the bugs and character management keep it from excelling. Usually, demons and heroes fall on different sides of the battlefield, but opposites attract in Shadows: Awakening. The game's main hook is the symbiotic relationship between the player's Devourer and the heroes it's bound to. You navigate two worlds simultaneously, swapping back and forth at will between the mortal and shadow worlds. Because of the supernatural nature of the Shadow Realm and how time's warped within it, things like collapsed walls or bridges will exist in one plane but not the other. Also, swinging platforms and hazards may be frozen in place. It's an interesting gameplay mechanic for solving puzzles, exploring the world, and even fighting enemies. Some creatures, for example, exist in both worlds, but can only be hurt in one after shattering their protection in the other.
Switching worlds is only half the story, though, as the Devourer consumes other souls throughout the game, adding new "puppets" to its collection and more characters to the available party. With all these extras, though, comes lots of additional character management. Managing armor and weapons, items, character stats, and more can get overwhelming for one character. Now multiply that by at least four characters at any given time, and it's easy to spend as much time in the character screens as fighting enemies. It feels clunky, especially compared to the more fluid action, where swapping worlds and characters feels smooth and organic. That's not to say there couldn't be more polish in the action part of the game, though. Random glitches occasionally popped up, like floating critters (rats, bugs, etc.) or stubborn targeting issues, but these were more a minor nuisance than a major frustration. If you're willing to invest the time into the game, Shadows: Awakening can wind up being a surprisingly entertaining and unique adventure worth checking out.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.