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Shardlands Review

By Dave Flodine, on December 4, 2012


Shardlands
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Atmospheric and intriguing world that you're dropped right into immediately.
  • Good integration of puzzles and exploration.

CONS

  • Having to collect one hundred percent of the shards in each level can be tedious.

VERDICT

Shardlands is one of those games that intrigues you when you start playing, and never really stops.


  • Full Review
  • App Store Info
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A lot of games start you out with either a splash page of introductory context or a movie to set up the scene. Shardlands throws you right into the thick of it straight away. Your character Dawn wakes up in a strange alien world. Where is she? How did she get there? These are pertinent questions, but surprisingly not all that pressing. This game is of a slower pace, where exploration and evasion are the order of the day. The big questions can wait.

And to explore this foreign landscape is as simple as touching where you want to go on the screen. If it is possible to get there, the game will create a path for Dawn to walk along (or run along with a double tap). Each level is its own self contained area, separated from the rest by a Stargate-ian portal. The goal of each area is to collect one hundred percent of the orbs, that will open up a secret room containing a shard, which will then allow you to return to the hub world and access a new gate leading to new lands.

Each new area introduces a new puzzle mechanic or two, and chances are the majority of what you'll be doing in that area will revolve around what you just learned (this applies to all future areas as well). For example, in one area, there are platforms that can only be moved when Dawn is not standing on them, and in another, there will be the obligatory lasers and mirrors that always show up in puzzle games. There are enemies as well, and these can either be avoided by staying out of their line of sight, or destroyed by leading them back to a safety nexus.

But what makes Shardlands truly atmospheric and a delight to explore is the presentation. The worlds are not overly unusual but the way they are lit, and the accompanying music and ambient sound effects paint a picture of a place wholly enticing to the player. Now the slow pace is going to put some gamers off, and the linearity of the levels combined with having to collect all the orbs to finish things off are legitimate criticisms, but for those looking for a slower, atmospheric experience with just the right dash of puzzle flavor, this gets a hearty recommendation.

Screenshots

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