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Shardlight

Score: 88%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Shardlight oozes classic adventure game feel from pretty much every angle. Not only does it keep to the visual style of the mid-90's, but the puzzle quality and gameplay style follows through on those feelings as well.

As with other WadjetEye games, Shardlight takes a retro approach to its visual style. The pixelated world and characters will strike nostalgic chords with any gamers who remember the mid to early 90's. Personally, throughout the game, I couldn't help but think about LucasArts' 1995 game, The Dig. Where many other classic LucasArts adventure games have the same level of graphics, The Dig conveyed the same realistic (or at least as realistic as this style can produce) look and feel as Shardlight.

Even with Shardlight's low visual graphics, its post-apocalyptic cityscape translates well and is conveyed easily to the viewer. While the characters are very low-res, they are distinct looking enough so that you know who your character is talking to.

Shardlight really hits the nail on the head when it comes to audio. Not only is there an appropriately feeling background score throughout the game, but all of the dialogue felt right and at no point did it seem like any of the voice actors were stiff or bored.


Gameplay:

In Shardlight, you play mechanic Amy Wallard in a post-apocalyptic city. She wants nothing more than to finish working on the car that she and her late dad started on years before. Unfortunately, the world around her seems to keep her from her simple pleasure, what with having to scrounge for food and all. To top it all off, she just came down with a deadly disease, Green Lung, and the only chance she has on getting a shot of the temporary vaccine is to take a one-time government job and hope that her vaccine lottery number gets called.

Little does she realize that this innocent job will start her on a path to joining the resistance, a group that is trying to take down the Aristocracy, a strange throw-back government that rose out of the rubble after World War III.

While all Amy really wants is to get her vaccine and go back to working on her car, the more she learns about the resistance and just how many of her friends secretly belong to it, the more she gets pulled into the bigger plot involving everything from the government's delusional leader to an apparently mystic being worshipped by a cult that Amy will eventually join.


Difficulty:

While there are a few dialogue-based puzzles in Shardlight, most of the tasks that will confront Amy will be solved using the array of inventory items she will pick up during her adventure, and I am pleased to say that in pretty much every situation, the solution to the problem made clear and logical sense, and the only real times I couldn't make steady progress were because I simply hadn't considered using a particular item in the right way yet, but even those times didn't feel like they were convoluted solutions. For example, there is a point when you need something to jimmy open a lock. Going through my inventory, nothing appeared to match what I needed, so I went to all the available locations hoping to find something I hadn't picked up. When my search came up with nothing, I tried a few of the items in my inventory and when the right item was used, I realized I just hadn't considered that this particular item could be used in this way, a fault I attribute more to myself than the game developers.

That isn't to say that Shardlight is a cakewalk. The game has a lot of challenging puzzles to offer, I just never felt cheated when I got through them thinking that there was no logical way I could have come across the answer. This fact, combined with its interesting story, are hallmarks of a solid adventure title in my book.


Game Mechanics:

Shardlight fits the standard point-and-click adventure game model to a tee. While that means that Shardlight doesn't bring any new mechanics to the table, it also makes it an experience that doesn't require learning any new tricks to solve problems. In fact, the most complex maneuver you will ever really have to do in Shardlight is combining inventory items, but even these aren't all that frequent. The only curveball that might get thrown while playing is that you might not realize that the next step you need to take is combining some items, since it is done so rarely.

None of this hurts the gameplay experience though; Shardlight presents a strong story, a compelling world with some interesting characters, and a healthy level of challenging puzzles. It really does focus on making the best out of the standard adventure game model and should be enjoyed by anyone who wants to reminisce about adventure games from the 90's.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows ME or higher, Pentium processor or higher, 64 MB RAM, 640x400, 32-bit colour: 700 Mhz system minimum graphics card, DirectX 5.2, 2 GB available hard drive space, any DirectX-compatible sound cards
 

Test System:



Intel Core i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB dual-channel DDR3,Windows 10 Home 64 bit, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (4GB)

Related Links:



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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated