Some games enter Early Access or Kickstarter campaigns with very high hopes and promises to entice the public to believe and invest in their project. Some titles like Phasmophobia or more recently Valheim hit the jackpot when they got trending, boosting massively their reputation and sales, regardless of whether the game actually deserves such attention. Some other titles are more secretive and not very public, but can turn out to be absolute gems.
Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King, developed and published by Redlock Studios, has all the makings of a title which could contend for best indie game of the year. Shattered is definitely one of the most ambitious titles I have played in a long time, and by the way the game plays and feels, it would be criminal to give it any less than it is due.
You take the role of a nameless, voiceless wanderer, trying to find out your origins. You awaken in Limbo, a world where black dominates every space your vision can reach, and where your journey is bound to depart from. Along the way you will encounter Y’aak, the last of the whisperers he says, who decides to join you on your journey to find the King, who may hold the answers to all of your questions.
Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King then basically kicks off, thrusting you into a world of vicious enemies mixed with 2D platforming. The fighting in the game feels very much like a Souls-like game, with patience and timed dodging rewarded over just going all out on the offensive since stamina will play its part. Different combinations of weapons and attacks are entirely possible due to the game’s Quick Access menu, a feature which we will go over below. Similar to Bloodborne and other From Software classic titles, Shattered features a light attack and a heavy attack, both of which can be charged for more damage. There is also a parry mechanic for those brave enough to skill on their enemies, but the timing on it is very precise, meaning one will need a lot of practice in order to use it reliably enough in battle.
As mentioned before, Shattered has a feature called Quick Access menu, where you will have access to a number of slots where you can modify your gear or consumables with a simple button. Explained better with a controller layout, the left, up and right directional buttons on the d-pad each control a specific area of interest – left is current weapon, up is side weapon, and right is consumables, such as healing items. The down directional button then is the menu for quick access, enabling players to add whatever they want to cycle through the other three directional buttons, and the game will automatically filter where this item will be placed.
For example, setting one healing item and a couple other consumables will permit cycling through them with the right directional button, and the triangle button will then consume whatever item highlighted in the menu. It is a very interesting mechanic which also allows combat adjustments on the fly. This comes in handy after a couple of hours in the game, where players will have a long-range spell and a shield to cycle through. Equipping the shield when going into close quarters with an enemy, to then changing to your bolt spell and damage them when you’re far. It adds a layer on top of the souls-like combat which we all know and love, and it works exceptionally.
Platforming is another aspect of Shattered which is one of the core gameplay elements together with combat. Some areas in the game are only accessible through old-school moving platforms and well-placed jumps, and Shattered has very neat and unique elements in its platforming, and while not unfair, they will surely need the player to actively think about how to tackle the next jump. The jumping may feel a little iffy in the game, which will increase the difficulty of some jumps as the character may move less in the air than expected, but by time players will get used to it.
On your quest to reach the King, there will be various places you will need to visit, and upon getting your map to begin your adventure for real, your hands will be tickling to go out and explore, more so because of how gorgeous the world looks. Compared to how dark the opening levels and Limbo are, players will be very pleasantly surprised by the colour in the realm; blue skies, green trees and red leaves all blend together to create a spectacle to the eye, a show which will entice the player even more to just go out and explore. Luckily, you will even get a bike of sorts which will let you navigate much faster than on foot, so distances will not be a detriment to exploration any more.
Sparing a couple of words on the music as well, Shattered features an amazing score, with music which complements the gameplay greatly. Boss fights will have even more intense background music than normal combat, and exploration will feature that occasional guitar track to restore the mood. Music is really underappreciated in games, but with a soundtrack like the one in the game, it will be easy to appreciate just how good the score really is.
Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King is one of those games which are bursting at the seams with the passion and love of its creators, and one can only imagine their emotions at having their game officially out of Early Access. I sincerely suggest you pick up a copy right away to even benefit from its 15% launch discount which ends a week after launch, meaning 24th February. Even at its base price its a steal considering how amazing the world ties all its aspects together, so any savings on it would be even more of a bargain.
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