There’s an old saying that goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Most video game developers tend to not follow this as they always try to put in all sorts of bells and whistles when it comes to making games — maybe by putting in a new, never-before-used graphics engine, drastically changing up gameplay, or even just making a whole new type of game that no one really expected. All of that is fine, but with that said, there are a few developers out there that like to stick to what they know and focus on oldie-but-goodie game elements.
One of those old school developers, it seems, is Something Classic Games, as the crew’s latest game Shadows of Adam fits the classic turn-based RPG bill. With how the game plays, looks, and sounds, Shadows of Adam is one heck of a shadow of JRPGs from yore. Yet, therein lies what could be a problem for players with the game — its a shadow, a pretty cool one at that, but one that can easily fade away from memory.
Shadows of Adam’s story follows Kellan, the adventurous son of the renowned hero Orazio who disappeared a decade ago, along with Kellan’s adopted sister Asrael, an outcast who has magical powers. When the Tangle, a slew of monstrous vines, start to plague Adam, their humble and remote hometown, Kellan and Asrael decide to investigate what’s going on. In doing so, they find their father’s spirit, which then has them go on a quest to discover the truth behind their father and the overwhelming darkness that surrounds the entire world.
The story itself, that takes about 10 to 12 hours to complete, clearly isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before, but it gets the job done to at least keep you interested in seeing what happens with Kellan and Asrael along with the two other main characters. What I particularly enjoyed, however, was the writing as it successfully blends dramatic lines with witty, humorous one-liners. All of the characters, from the main characters to even the NPCs, offer silly dialogue lines that made me chuckle a good number of times. Having played several games lately with a more dark and serious tone (insert “WHY SO SERIOUS?” Joker meme here), it was refreshing for me to play Shadows of Adam and just have a jolly good time. Some players might find, however, that the characters themselves may not be so different from one another in Shadows of Adam given that they all tend to deliver comical and entertaining banter — but there are small doses of character development here and there that do make each character somewhat unique in their own way. I think that if I went in expecting a deep story, I’d be pretty disappointed, but honestly, I just wanted to play an old school-like turn-based RPG with a decent, well-paced, and short story.
With that said, all players will greatly appreciate the finely-tuned turn-based combat system in Shadows of Adam as it’s blazing fast, addictive, and fun. Instead of plopping all sorts of unnecessary gimmicks in your face, Shadows of Adam truly has a classic combat system with a few minor twists that are actually enjoyable. The main twist to it is that rather than having the usual MP (magic point) system that can only be replenished via items, there’s an AP (ability point) system that recharges slightly at the end of every round, which encourages you to keep on attacking. However, AP can also be recharged by using a character’s recharge/channel ability that also grants a buff for that specific character. This system adds a little layer of depth to the oldie-but-a-goodie turn-based combat system since players can’t necessarily just spam “Fight” (the game’s version of “attack”) and win each battle. It leads players to have to still be quick but to also utilize abilities expertly, making battles a blast to experience.
On the topic of the ability system, each character has unique abilities that need to be used at certain times. Since enemies are strong or weak against different types of attacks, players need to know which characters’ abilities to use at the right moment for the best results. In a nutshell, the four main characters in your party are the usual JRPG classes, but they do have a good number of abilities that make them fun. What I found neat, though, were the animations for all the abilities as they are wonderfully fluid and flashy. Battles, however, never really were that much of a challenge, even for boss fights. With that said, Shadows of Adam does have an optional battle arena that contains more difficult challenges, and there is a New Game+ feature coming soon which I’m sure will have harder enemies to take down.
Outside of combat, Shadows of Adam has all the classic elements that any 16-bit era JRPG fan, like myself, knows and loves. Exploration is a nice treat — whether it’s exploring the vast overworld and taking on sidequests or traversing linear dungeons with branching paths to go through, puzzles to solve, and treasures to get. However, over time, some of the puzzles and dungeons do tend to get a bit repetitive, and character movement is a little stiff. What doesn’t make exploration tedious, though, is that enemy encounters can be spotted and only come back after exiting and re-entering dungeons, so there are no random battles. Also, it’s important to note is that you can save at any time.
What will either draw in your attention or have you wishing for something greater, is Shadow of Adam’s stylish retro pixel graphics. The game’s art style is surprisingly nicely detailed, dynamic, and bright, but it isn’t a stand out feature by any means. Regardless, Shadow of Adam does look good on the Nintendo Switch, no matter if you’re playing via handheld or docked mode.
I have conflicting feelings about the game’s soundtrack, though. Some of the MIDI-based, original tracks, like the boss battle track, are great and had me humming along as they played, whereas other tracks got on my nerves — and it’s unfortunate is that some of the tracks do not loop properly. However, I’m sure an upcoming patch will fix the music loop issue.
Shadows of Adam is a solid, old school cool turn-based RPG that’s great for the Nintendo Switch. Shadows of Adam’s classic and fun gameplay and humorous dialogue is what makes the game a joy to play. However, the game’s other elements may leave players wanting for something more unique. If you’re looking for a small but mighty RPG to play on the go, Shadows of Adam is worth playing.
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