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[Review] Shadows of Adam – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Something Classic Games LLC
  • Publisher: CIRCLE Ent.
  • Release Date: 03/05/2019
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by: Circle ENT

Reviewed by Thomas

Intro

I still have Shadows of Adam on my Kickstarter saved list back when it funded on February of 2016. After completing the game it was fun to look back at its early development and see what changed and what promises were fulfilled. Join me on this journey to see if Shadows of Adam makes good on its commitment. From the Kickstarter campaign the team states “we aim not just to evoke nostalgia for the classic 16-bit JRPGs we know and love, but also to progress the genre.”

Watch Out For Snakes

Without giving away too many spoilers, Shadows of Adam offers a memorable story. Outside the small town of Adam, you meet a cast of unlikely heroes. After watching Kellan lower a rope into a pit below, he descends with a young lady, Asrael. Though not clear at first why they are embarking on a dangerous quest, you soon learn that the town of Adam is home to narrow minded bullies. The people of Adam have long since escaped the Wraith War as refugees and frown upon change. Especially if it threatens their livelihood. With new dangers lurking, the townsfolk place the blame on Asrael. Over the course of events, she and Kellan team up with a monk named Curtis and a rival named Talon. The later I would classify as an elemental rogue. Each member of the party has a different motive driving them forward and concurrently preserving the safety of the world. The writing is well done giving each character strengths and flaws. A little humor is sprinkled in and there are clear nods to classic JRPGs it looks to emulate.

Snakes On a Plane.. err, Airship?

Shadows of Adam certainly fills the claim to “evoke nostalgia for the classic 16-bit JRPGs.” The combat follows a traditional JRPG in turn based fashion. Straying from the random encounters, enemies are visible on the screen. One level stated if you used a warp the enemies would respawn. Attempting to grind, I warped to the start only to find the enemies were still vanquished. Grinding in Shadows of Adam isn’t necessary however since you’ll naturally progress to the required level for your location. Though enemies are visible, not all are avoidable.

The goal to “progress the genre” I feel was a bit off. Some of the battle options weren’t fully executed. For example when using a recovery skill to restore AP (action points used for spells and skills) would be ineffective if the enemy was defeated before that turn ends. Most JRPGs today feature an optional fast forward during battles, but that is absent in Shadows of Adam. Finally, no ability to skip a cutscene seems like a thing of the past. Since that feature was lacking, there were a few instances where the game froze and certain parts of the story were arduously replayed.

Shadows of Adam brakes up the exploration and combat with puzzles throughout the game. A lot of the puzzles were well paced and clever. A few of them seemed complex but had simple solutions which threw me off. Only a few required some trial and error and I never got frustrated with their designs.

The Eye of the Snake

One of the things that was instantly noticeable and stood out during the course of the game was the animation. I feel like the development team hit a home run with the combat animations for each character. They were smooth and pleasing to watch. The rest of the graphics and backgrounds were gorgeous and blended the retro 16-bit era with the modern age. The music likewise was well done and impactful. Each area and cutscene was accompanied with a beautiful serenade reminiscent of role-playing games from yesteryear.

There’s a Snake In My Boot

As mentioned above, Shadows of Adam faltered in the technical department. A few times when entering a new area, like transitioning into a house, the game would freeze on a black screen. Most of these occurrences were minuscule if you save on a regular basis. However, one example happened after a particularly long cutscene with Curtis following a boss battle and no option to save. I had to play through that section a few times and couldn’t shake my frustration at being tied to fighting a few knuckleheads and watching the story again. The only other issue I ran into was reading the dialogue. I’ve played so many JRPGs that I’m programmed to click the ‘confirm’ button to load the entire dialogue box and then click it again once I’ve read it to start the next line in the story. In Shadows of Adam, if you click the ‘confirm’ button, it skips that box of dialogue completely. I missed a few nuggets in the story because of my habit. Not so much a technical bug as it was a design flaw in my opinion, and slightly annoying.

Final Wrap

Shadows of Adam has a few drawbacks that make it more akin to the games it pays homage to in the 16-bit era of JRPGs. The few features that set it apart from its past influencers are a staple among modern games of the same genre. The overall game took a little more than ten hours to complete which was a bit refreshing with how many games are churned out on the Nintendo Switch every week. Despite the minor flaws, Shadows of Adam should definitely be on any JRPG fan’s radar.

Pros

  • Beautiful Animations
  • Believable Cast
  • Touching Story

Cons

  • Unable to Skip Scenes
  • Technical Snags
  • Minor Design Flaws

Verdict
Shadows of Adam is a captivating entry in the stream of JRPGs, sure to please new and old fans of the genre.
4/5

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