Version Tested: PC
Available on: PC
Developers: Wadjet Eye Games
Publishers: Wadjet Eye Games
Official Site: https://www.shardlight-game.com/
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Where to Buy: Steam
Shardlight surprised me as not only one of the most nostalgic games I’ve played this year, but one of the best in the genre of point and click adventure. I was taken aback by how a title could breathe life into a lifeless world with interactive environments, somewhat troublesome puzzles, realistic narration through character, and old, DOS-like graphics – slightly resembling past LucasArts games. So what made Shardlight a different exception?
Well, for one, every adventure has to start with a beginning. The setting was twenty years after the bombing. A city laid to waste and the citizens were all shattered and torn with the limited amount of food and water or government society left for survival. The player has control over a young woman by the name of Amy Wellard. Amy was infected with a powerful disease which has been sweeping over the desolated wasteland. This sickness was called Green Lung. The evil government Aristocracy has offered Amy to work lottery jobs. If succeeded, the lottery job would reward Amy with a ticket for an opportunity to win a vaccine – a temporary cure for Green Lung. Upon taking the government’s long list of missions, Amy accidentally met up with the rebellion, who are fighting against the government. Reluctantly, Amy decided to join arms – as a double agent – and spy on the Aristocracy.
Multiple times I would be conflicted on whether what side I wanted to join. The player was entitled to one side as this point and click offered one path and never veered off track into various choices. I found myself a little bothered by this. If I was given the option to get myself into trouble or decide to not help a certain person then the decision would dissipate. The best example I discovered was where the map finally opened up. I was asked to go to a chapel and seek out forgiveness for my sickness. They would accept me as part of their family, but I couldn’t agree with the Raven Cultist – creepy, religious nutbars who believe the ravens plaguing the land are here to summon the reaper. When given the question, “Are you ready to die” and left to answer “yes” or “no”. Obviously, my first choice is always no. But what if I decided to be evil and choose a wrongful ending? Alas, my decision was one side and left my character to roam the streets for answers of a puzzle I didn’t want to solve.
The calligraphy puzzle stumped me for the past 3 hours – discovered after the intro. I don’t want to go into detail on how the challenge was overcome but just know gather the information had me laying in bed for sleepless nights, repeating to myself, “I’m smarter than this.” I kept reciting the same process through my head – which was I know where to get this object, but how? Once I figured the puzzle out I was suddenly overwhelmed with frustrated enjoyment! I felt as though I had solved the Rubix Cube for the first time. Sadly, everything was a tad bit easier from this point on. The other obstacles became obsolete but were still rather pleasurable to spend time figuring out.
The scenery and graphics were the next syringe to induce nostalgic feeling into my veins. From the site of the market district, alone. Customers were roaming to every food or salvage stand, walking by or chattering among themselves. I was astonished by how well detailed a point and click could be. Cracked and abandoned store buildings hung signs that would swing side-to-side and rats could be spotted scurry between trash cans. Not many titles (since the 90’s) have accomplished a level of detail or finesse when creating an atmosphere to get lost in. The graphics were dated but meant to recreate the same old school resemblance to similar titles as Monkey Island series or Gabriel Knight. Although, the resolution was a bit much as I felt as though I was playing at 800×600. Even the portraits found next to the dialogue when speaking to a random character would give a soothing sense of good vibes – apart from their blurred pixilated bodies standing idol.
The Voice acting and dialogue was superb. The emotion can be heard through each character speaking. From Amy showing sympathy for the crushed man found at the beginning of the game to kids singing about the reaper through a game of jump rope. Sound effects of gas masks could be heard behind the muffled breathing; an amount of great detail went into the ambient noises as ravens can be heard picking at dead bodies. The soundtrack was also very fitting as acoustic cords strung high and low notes expressing as old country noise.
Shardlight may have a few hiccups here and there but with a thrilling deep and twisted storytelling kept the momentum of this tale going. Not only that but from realistic voice acting and dialogue, aged graphics, and beautiful detail through the atmosphere of a dystopia; I couldn’t find a finer point and click, post-apocalyptic game than Shardlight – Big Brother doesn’t want to be involved in this one…
- Gameplay: Presents a traditional point and click adventure feel and enabled with the ability to click on multiple objects with voiced commentary.
- Graphics: WARNING – MAY MAKE YOU NOTICE YOU’RE OLD.
- Sound: From the busy market noises to the countless crows cawing may bring shivers to your spine. Also, the soundtrack is a chilling listen.
- Presentation: From the introduction alone immerses your mind into the world of desolation.
- Incredible voice acting and well-written dialogue
- Dated graphics (like the olden days)
- Traditional point and click
- Amount of detail put into the environment
- Story latches on from beginning to end
- Rewarding when complete hard puzzles
- Resolution options would be relaxing on the eyes
- Somewhat easy puzzles
- Would have liked to see multiple paths from the start