Title: Shadow Corridor
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: NIS America
Genre: Survival Horror
One look at a game will generally provide you with a sense as to whether it’s bad or not. However, even in the case of a game that doesn’t initially have my attention, I’ll still give it a chance. Well, sometimes I’m known for giving a game too many chances and that’s where I find myself with Shadow Corridor, as I continued to play and hoped things got better, but sadly, they didn’t.
Shadow Corridor has a classic setup. The player is searching around an alley when a mirror transports them to another world. Their bravado slowly diminishes as they face the apparitions that stand in the way. Their only hope for survival is to follow the advice of K through the notes he has left behind.
These notes are scattered about and give gameplay hints, and you never have to look far to implement what you just learned. Otherwise, they don’t impact the story, which is also expressed through voiced cutscenes. I had no attachment to the narrative, finding it to be a dull obligation.
One cause for me constantly returning to Shadow Corridor is that everything is procedurally generated, from the maps to the placement of items. If you die, any item gathered is gone, and only the use of the in-game item known as magatama can bring them back.
Sadly, obtaining these magatamas can be a massive effort, and you can’t save them either. It creates a weird juxtaposition that I am not used to in horror games; the resources just don’t matter. This lack of need makes most of them seem downright useless.
For example, a crystal produces a small amount of light and can be used to mark where you have been. However, lighting candles along the way provides the same amount of use with more light. So, why would I ever use the crystals? They’ll just stay in my inventory until I die or clear the level.
Shadow Corridor instead focuses on the difficulty. The highest difficulty, Challenger, feels like somebody has booted you into a special mode where all you need to do is survive. While five distinct enemy types hunt you down, a single touch from them restarts the entire game.
This difficulty spike is my major critique. There is no ramp-up in difficulty, just an immediate spike that doesn’t teach the player anything outside of a few notes. Beginner mode makes the title more akin to a typical horror game, though way too easy.
Is it too much to ask for a difficulty that simply had the apparitions take a chunk of health instead of killing you outright? Allowing you to learn how to avoid them without sending you back to the beginning. Another would be to introduce each type in a controlled environment, then unleash them on the player in more significant volumes.
While I’m on the topic of fixing this game, I’d love for the player character to move faster. I had to check my joy-cons for drift because the movement felt like I was underwater as sprinting felt like walking. The controls fought against me, making me question my desire to keep playing. Further, enemies could catch up quickly, forcing the player to hide to prolong the inevitable.
The enemy variety is also lacking with the likes of a weeping maiden, the shrine maiden, the murderous presence, and the rampaging beast. I had named these after their core mechanics and highlighted features. Each type has a different mechanic that you need to combat to move forward.
This slight variation makes each apparition distinct from the other and allows for different strategies. However, apparitions frequently chased me into another—the new arrival catching and forcing me to reset the board before I had a chance to react.
As a result, nothing truly comes together cohesively, and visuals don’t do the experience any favors with reused assets and predictable environments. There are a few other modes to play as well, but I had lost interest by that time and I feel like the novelty of the experience relies heavily on being entertainingly strange.
A title of this type would feel right at home on Switch, the use of lower poly models giving it a retro feel. However, there needed to be a few tweaks before being released again to a wider audience. There is a demand for a randomized horror experience. This isn’t it.
Shadow Corridor is for someone who desires a challenging experience while having no attachment to the actual experience. Lacking enemy variety, one-hit death, and hindering systems had me more afraid of the mechanics than the game itself. This horror game requires patience; without it, you can probably sit this nightmare out.
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