Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King | Review

Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King | Review

Funded thanks to Kickstarter back in 2016, the souls-like Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King finally came out of early access on February 17th. We are facing a product that - despite some flaws of youth (it is the first title developed by the French of Redlock Studio) - has a certain innovative drive: the game in fact blends the two approaches to the Souls formula, mixing seamlessly (but with some critical issues that we will see later) challenging fights with 3D visuals on the 2.5D platform.

With a character reminiscent in some ways of the Raziel from Legacy of Kain and low-poly graphics embellished with an inspired art direction ( winks at Tim Burton's cinematic works), Shattered is a title that stands out immediately. And it is good in a panorama, that of the souls-like, which has long since become saturated. Obviously, an atmosphere and inspired graphics cannot (and should not) be enough, but they clearly give character to the production of the Lyon team. The soundtrack is also excellent, while the acoustic sampling of the fights is a little less.

The charm of desolation

The variety of settings is good, with gloomy and crumbling locations that alternate to scenarios where, for example, nature or snow are the masters. The common thread, however, is always a constant desolation, a hint of ruin and mystery that contaminates every pixel of the game, every graphic element, every character. And here we say that we are not really in the field of originality, but the exploration remains pleasant and the mystery component repays the player who decides to "poke his nose" in every corner of the world created by Redlock Studios.

The narrative, bestowed in bits and pieces as per the textbook of good souls-like, in fact focuses entirely on the mystery element. In short, the game world - which is called Hypnos - has been orphaned of its ruler and the player's mission, as the taciturn Wanderer, is to find and eliminate the four mysterious characters who made him disappear. The lore is discovered through the discovery of some objects and special fragments that contain precious information about what is happening.

Not quite like FromSoftware

Now let's move on to the central aspect of the branded baby. Redlock: the combat system. From the very first minutes of the game, the influence of the FromSoftware series is very clear, both in terms of rhythm and setting: there is obviously the classic resistance bar that is consumed by light, heavy blows and dodges, a little bit of magic and the parade. In short, there is everything there needs to be and whoever has experience with Dark Souls will immediately find themselves at home.

Unfortunately, the final quality of the product is not that seen in the FromSoftware series: the combat system of Shattered is very cumbersome and sometimes inaccurate, and so the reading of the attacks is not always consistent and the variety of enemies and weapons is rather limited. Not that the fights don't flow well, but don't expect the same satisfaction (if you've played it, of course) of a Dark Souls.

Hybridization with the 2.5D platformer is only half convincing: in some phases of the adventure - even in some boss fights - the game leaves the third dimension offering the player a different approach to exploration and combat. Too bad that it is only the view that changes, while practically the same controls and reactivity remain. In short, it is difficult to conceive a platform with the typical slowness of Dark Souls, and in fact the experiment does not work very well.

Courage and originality are certainly rewarded, but the result is everything 'anything but satisfactory. That said, it undoubtedly helps to break the monotony and make the boss fights more interesting, which is undoubtedly one of the best elements of the game.

A more "gentle" souls-like

Once the tutorial is over, the player will find himself in Limbo, the typical hub from which the player can enhance the character thanks to the "essences" (souls) collected or move between the various worlds of the game universe, as long as obviously have the keys to open the relevant portal. There is also a forge to improve weapons thanks to the metals that can be found wandering the length and breadth of the game world.

Death - which is obviously a fundamental part of the game experience - will compel the player starting from the last available checkpoint (a sort of obelisk that has the same function as the bonfires in Dark Souls). The game over will also cause you to lose all the souls accumulated up to that moment, which can only be recovered by returning to the place of the "crime" and eliminating the enemy who was the cause of death.

As already happened in other souls-like - and it is a trend lately quite in "vogue - even Shattered did not want to tread too much and propose a slightly more permissive level of difficulty: and so the fights (which we have already talked about above) are on average easier and once some now the base enemies will have no more secrets. Even the accidental fall into the void - among the most common deaths in souls-like - will not lead to the loss of the collected souls.

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