[Review] Towaga: Among Shadows – Nintendo Switch

Written by Akio Kahoshi
  • Developer: SUNNYSIDE GAMES INC.
  • Publisher: Forever Entertainment
  • Release Date: 25/06/2020
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Forever Entertainment

INTRODUCING: TOWAGA SWITCH REVIEW

Upon starting Towaga: Among Shadows, the player is immediately greeted with a short cutscene showing a land being destroyed. Then, the masked figure watching this destruction pass through the gate, and the main menu takes shape around him. While perhaps not the most notable feature of Towaga, I found this to be a nice way to integrate the world into the player experience. Something that, unfortunately, does not always succeed in other parts of the game.

From the main menu, the player can dive quickly into the various game modes, level up Towaga, or view the game’s lore. There are four modes in this game, Story Mode and The Void Realm make up the two halves of the story, while Survival Mode and Flying Mode let the player try to top the leaderboards in the game’s two play styles.

SHADOW CONSUME

The story of Towaga is interesting in concept, even if it does not entirely succeed in the execution. Metnal The Voidmonger has destroyed the home of Towaga’s people, and as a light priest, he must vanquish Metnal and his void creatures. During the story mode Metnal appears a number of times, conversing with Towaga. Unfortunately though, this is the entire extent of the story actually in the story mode.

Everything else is relegated to the Codex. New monsters and pages found after beating a stage unlock information in the codex, which can at least be read when received. However, the cutscenes that are unlocked have to manually be looked up in the Codex rather than playing during the game.

This was indicative of what I found lacking in the game’s narrative. It felt like the developers had made the game, and remembered to stick a story in after the fact. Given how beautiful the characters and world are, I found myself slightly frustrated the lore was not better integrated. But, story ultimately plays a minor role in this game.

DISRUPTING THE SHADOWS

Where the story is relegated to the sidelines, the gameplay is set center stage. It consists of two types of gameplay: ground combat and aerial combat. Both rely on the same primary weapon, which is a beam of light from Towaga’s hand. Using the right stick, the player uses this beam to vaporize enemies that come from every direction.

Of the two, I found the ground stages to be the more challenging for the simple fact that Towaga cannot move. Without the ability to dodge, survival becomes all about destroying the enemies before they can attack. This gets progressively harder to do as dozens of enemies swarm in the later stages. Powerful, limited use magic spells help keep the shadows at bay long enough to destroy them.

On the other hand, the aerial stages allow for free movement in the 2D space with the trade off being the lack of magic spells (though they return in the game’s Flying Mode). Even without spells, the simple ability to dodge made these stages vastly easier than their ground counterparts. As they were less common, it helped to break up the possible monotony of only ground stages.

Throughout the stages were also a few bosses, which were definitely welcome, as each brought a unique experience. Each one required a different strategy to defeat, usually while also fending off swarming shadow monsters at the same time. The bosses felt challenging, but not unfairly so. And if they proved too difficult, leveling up was usually enough to even the playing field.

POWER FROM SHADOWS

The payoff to beating each stage is the shards rewarded afterward. Defeating enemies earns points, which reward shards based on performance at the end of the stage. Long kill chains without taking damage give score multipliers, but maintaining these multipliers is not an easy feat. In later stages, it is easy to be overwhelmed by numbers and allow one to get close enough to break the chain.

Outside of combat these shards are used to upgrade Towaga either by increasing his stats or improving the six spells unlocked by playing through the Story Mode. The power-ups are not terribly interesting by themselves, just increasing stats or power, but they are critical to beating the Story Mode or getting further in the two survival modes. The exception being The Void Realms, where Towaga’s personal stats are locked to increase the challenge.

In addition to skills, there are a number of different outfits that can be unlocked through various means. In addition to changing Towaga’s tunic, they each give a different passive skill such as an additional charge of magic or faster flight speed. For players that wish to challenge the survival modes, these outfits provide a welcome form of customization to play with once all their skills are maxed out.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Towaga: From Shadows is not a revolutionary game, but what it sets out to do, it accomplishes well. Visually it is an attractive game, and the gameplay stays fun through at least the story. For those that want to play more, the two survival modes and leader boards offer even more play time.

PROS

  • Interesting gameplay
  • Multiple modes to play
  • Wonderful art

CONS

  • Poorly executed story
  • Limited replayability

Verdict
Hectic gameplay and a campaign length that does not overstay its welcome makes this game worth a try, even if many will not stay longer.

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