Monday, May 6

Review: Shadows of Adam [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Thinking back to the SNES days inevitably makes me reflect a bit on some of the truly outstanding JRPG titles released in that era. The likes of the Final Fantasy (hell, just about anything from Square) and Dragon Quest series in particular stand out but in general there was an abundance of RPG greatness to choose from on the console. Attempting to bring back some of those feels, and generally succeeding, is Shadows of Adam. While it doesn’t have nearly the epic length of those classics (though still getting into double-digit hours) it does manage to embody many of the qualities from the genre at that time and put a smile on my face for doing so.


You’ll play the game as Kellan, the son of a local hero named Orazio, and his somewhat mysterious adopted sister Asrael. Initially “deciding” (though more coerced) to investigate the Tangle which is encroaching on their village and managing to defeat it they end up starting on an adventure. Joined by the fighter Curtis and then later by a rogue named Talon they then collectively see the story through to its conclusion.


Aside from the look, feel, and sounds of the game that so well emulate the heydey of the SNES JRPG scene the combat it also very reminiscent of games from that time. Turn-based and very much focused on smart and balanced use of each party member’s skills, for the most part defeating your foes is only a moderate challenge, though you’ll want to be sure to keep your items for revives and debuffing on hand for when things get away from you a bit. Each character has their own general specialization, and you’ll definitely fall into patterns of attack against more generic enemies, leveraging what works, but some trickier battles will demand you step back and come up with a variation that suits the situation.


Due to the less epic length of the game there are some casualties when it comes to what you’d expect from the games this so closely resembles. Your 4 party members are locked in so there’s no strategy in working with different line-ups, but that also means you don’t need to worry over getting everyone leveled up and grinding quite as much either. It also means that deeper systems like the classic Final Fantasy summons that you’re able to discover and work on developing to suit your style aren’t present. This makes Shadows of Adam a bit more shallow than the classics from the era, but it also keeps the game’s scope more focused and less grindy overall so it’s a trade-off of sorts.


If you’ve been looking for a game to hit you right in the feels as a lover of the 16-bit RPG era Shadows of Adam does a solid job of delivering that. Since it isn’t a sprawling epic running into 40+ hours of play it lacks the depth, variety, and player agency of many of those games, but it does offer up a more bite-sized portion that covers many of the key touchpoints you’d be looking for. It looks and sounds great, its characters and their interactions have that same sort of at times quirky familiar feel, and the turn-based combat is less complex but still generally satisfying. If you’ve been looking to recapture that feel and are looking for something you haven’t already played at some point, it does a good job of filling out the Switch line-up.

Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Nails the presentation end of recreating 16-bit era JRPGs
  • Given its more bite-sized overall length it generally eliminates the need for extended grinding of levels
  • Some of the dialogue and characters offer some amusing moments

Cons:
  • With a less-than-epic length it lacks the depth of the classics that it otherwise emulates
  • On the whole there’s less room for player choice in things, making it feel a bit more linear
  • Though it has a great nostalgic feel it doesn’t really do anything to elevate itself over the classics