Shadows: Awakening is what I personally call a “dungeon-lite” style of game. Or perhaps a “Diablo-lite” would be a little more appropriate. Shadows: Awakening is essentially a bit of a “dumbed down” Diablo with a bit of a twist, which is great for new players in the genre, or those who want a bit more puzzle or laidback style of gameplay.
Shadows: Awakening pits you against a vague unknown threat while cast as a Devourer, a type of demon that can consume souls for use as puppets in the physical realm, while the demon itself is part of the spirit realm. These souls still retain the thought processes and functions they had while alive, however, so I’m not entirely sure exactly what the demon does with the souls it collects. Either way, while the main story is primarily some old wizard man telling you “a threat looms in the horizon” ominously, there are sub-stories centered on the souls the demon collects to use as puppets.
In the beginning of the game, you get the choice of one of three different souls, locking in the soul you choose, and locking out the other two. Each of these characters died at differing points in time, some recently, some in the distant past, and each one will have a different opinion and way of viewing a situation depending on their background.
Once you’ve got your first physical realm puppet, you’re set to explore. You can swap between the demon and puppets at any time, and certain paths and devices can only be crossed or interacted with depending on which realm you are in. While this is a very interesting mechanic, and it’s really nice to have different characters to swap between (who don’t share a health bar thankfully), there are a few problems that arise.
The first and foremost is that having two realms to swap between basically means you have to explore a dungeon twice to make sure you’ve picked everything up. While this isn’t particularly necessary, some players that like to make sure no stone is left un-looted may find this a bit of an annoyance. The second issue is that enemies aren’t really restricted by where you swap between realms, nor are they patient enough for you to get your bearings, so yes, you definitely will encounter enemies slapping you in the face as soon as you swap realms, and no, you can’t really see them before hand, at least when shifting to the spirit realm. On the plus side, the passive health regeneration is pretty decent, so you can run away for a while to get that back.
General combat is point and click to either slap an enemy or fire a spell. Clicking is also interacting. And movement. So it isn’t that big a surprise when you click on an enemy near a chest, and instead go to open the chest instead of bashing that spider that’s spitting acid at you. At least you can hold down shift to keep you from moving, although apparently interacting with an object will sometimes override that, so be careful. Speaking of moving while attacking, the demons basic attack moves it forward.
Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re experiencing some lag issues, it actually is. I had one point where I had a really massive lag spike, and the demon ended up moved to where he would be had I kept attacking through the lag. Unfortunately that would be out of bounds. Equally unfortunate is that the developers decided that getting out of bounds means death, so that was cool.
There are other skills you can use beside your basic attacks, which are unlocked upon leveling and putting a skill point or two into the skill you want. While the skills are linearly acquired and not numerous, each character you control has their own set of skills, allowing you two customize through swapping through your maximum of three puppets and the demon.
Equipment gained from drops is auto-equipped, and the game isn’t particularly difficult, so if you’re looking for a challenge, this definitely isn’t it. While the concept of switching between realms is interesting, and it’s great having multiple characters at the ready, all of which share in the EXP gain, there are definitely areas that could use some improvement. The dialogue for switching characters is also way overused, so prepare to hear the same lines on repeat about thirty times every five minutes.