Parents' Guide to


By David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Pretty yet generic action-stealth with minimal violence.

Shadwen Poster Image

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This action-stealth adventure tries to break new ground, but all the features are handled in a way that doesn't really improve the gameplay at all. For example, there's a big learning curve in Shadwen because time only moves when you do. This is intended to enhance and play up the strategic element of everything happening around you (what were you not aware of until it was too late?), but this isn't explained until you're considerably into the game. Until then, you're left to flail around and wonder why things like jumping and swinging around with a grappling hook are so frustratingly hard. The stillness and expanse of each map works together to make progressing through the game clunky and uncertain -- you're constantly unsure of where to go and will sink a lot of time heading in wrong directions or even going backward due to the sameness of the maps. Everything is dark, brown, and gray -- which is disappointing given the deep purples and blues you see over the horizon in the starry night sky on each level. It's tempting to go over and see what's there, but it remains out of touch: Your focus lies on guards, castle walls, crypts, and muddy fields, and you fumble through them over and over.

It always feels a tad unfair to discount how a game adheres to its genre, though the cycle of killing guards and stashing their bodies in piles of hay or leaves while avoiding detection is a familiar theme in video games. It's nothing new, but since time only moves when you do, you'll often find you need to scrub further back by five minutes or more to try everything you did before in a more streamlined fashion. The manipulation of time is used to either do that or lie in wait for guards on patrol to move past you, which is also a familiar application of this kind of game mechanic. It's not that these mechanics don't all work together, but added together, the total is a rather generic and familiar experience that has been done better elsewhere before.

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