The Shadow of Devilwood – Adfree in Review – At Least They Tried

review-shadow-devilwood-1

At a time when it seems like the term “adventure game” is used to either encompass everything that’s not a puzzle game or made synonymous with hidden object games, it’s nice to find an entry that’s more along the lines of what I’d consider a “traditional” adventure game.  That is to say a game where you explore a land room by room, gathering objects to solve puzzles and occasionally playing a mini-game to unlock and area or reveal yet another object puzzle piece.  Unfortunately, The Shadow of Devilwood still has a lot of flaws, but at least its heart was in the right place.

review-shadow-devilwood-2

The basic premise here is that you are trying to find your missing lover.  At least that’s what the iTunes description tells me.  The problem is that I did not quite get that from the few bits of dialog that show up in the game.  In fact, as short as it is, the iTunes description does a better job of telling the player what’s going on than the game does.  There’s also a bit of a translation problem in much of the dialog, but I’d be willing to let that slide if the overall story were spelled out better.  You very briefly get to play as the lover, which was a nice touch but not long enough to really be worth exploring.  There’s also a weird moment where you meet some wizard that asks what you’re doing in his house, only to disappear and never be heard from again.  The whole thing reeks of the developer building the game first and then feeling the need to throw in a story to appease more hardcore adventure game players.

Navigating through the game is a simple matter of clicking on where you want to go or what you want to look at.  If there is a sub-area to explore a smaller window will pop up on top of the room that you’re in, and an inventory window can be raised and lowered at the bottom of the screen.  Sometimes the game is kind enough to elaborate on things when you tap on them, but it seems that if something is not important to the game then you won’t get any more details on it.  Even for inventory items you don’t know what you’re picking up half the time until you drag it onto the magnifying glass in the inventory window.  Speaking of which, all inventory has to be dragged to its target in order to be used, and often it felt like I had to try two or three times to virtually grab hold of something before I could drag it.  At least you could drag items on top of each other to combine them, which is a feature a lot of games find less elegant ways to get around.  There’s also an icon at the top of the screen that will show you all active hotspots on the screen, at least if you’re on the main screen of an area.  This doesn’t work for sub-screens.

review-shadow-devilwood-3

For those of you that don’t like the mechanic, have no fear: there are no hidden object scenes to be found here.  Most of the game is exploring the world and collecting items to solve object based puzzles, though there are a few mini-games to break up the monotony and make unlocking things a little more complex than simply finding yet another key.  There were definitely times where they tried on the mini-games, like in one case where you actually had to use two fingers to slide things in different directions, but it would have been nice to see even more “out of the box” thinking when it came to these diversions.  On the plus side there wasn’t a single mini-game that was too difficult, which is probably a good thing since I don’t recall there being a way to actually skip them.

The graphics are okay.  They remind me of many attempts to update visuals in old games without redoing them, where the graphics feel a bit clunky and pixelated.  This is especially evident in the few cut scenes and instances when they show character portraits.  Everything also feels a bit washed out with the color palette they chose.  The one thing that surprised me was that there were bits of animation in various background scenes, which actually felt a bit out of place given that the world felt fairly stiff.  The sound effects were nothing special, though the background noises actually weren’t bad.  The shining star of the aesthetics was definitely the music, which managed to rise way above everything else in the audio / visual department.

review-shadow-devilwood-4

The Shadow of Devilwood is not a bad game.  The problem, though, is it’s not a great game either.  There’s definitely potential, and it’s nice to have an adventure game that doesn’t require me to hunt for my inventory from a list of items in a cluttered screen (yes, I’m ignoring the whole coin collecting thing, as it doesn’t influence the game at all).  However, there are so many excellent adventure games that both do and don’t include hidden object scenes that The Shadow of Devilwood doesn’t stand out from the crowd in any way.  I’d love to see more of this tale told, but I hope the next installment is longer, more polished and a bit more imaginative.

tap-icon

App Summary
Title: The Shadow of Devilwood – AdfreeDeveloper: Sheeraz Ahmad
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req: iOS 7.0
Price:$0.99App Size:172.87MB
  • Decent object based puzzles
  • No hidden object scenes
  • Some nice interface elements
  • Enjoyable music
  • Story not fleshed out
  • Mini-games too basic
  • Audio / visual elements fairly lackluster
  • Nothing in the game stands out

appstoreicon