Though it may initially appear somewhat derivative of Monument Valley (something that the dev’s will admit), Where Shadows Slumber brings something entirely different to the table: a mechanic that play with light and shadow that makes the experience all together unique:
Where Shadows Slumber is a brooding puzzle game that takes place in a shadowy, abandoned world. You will aid the main character in his search for redemption: a search that spans numerous worlds and introduces a cast of mysterious figures. Who rules this forgotten land? And who will be left once the adventure draws to its inevitable conclusion?
Where Shadows Slumber does look like Monument Valley, but its use of light and shadow makes it a very different experience aesthetically. The environments aren’t as bright and colorful; they feel more dungeons, ruins of a forget kingdom illuminated only by the light of a lantern.
I don’t see this as a problem; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Monument Valley is not a bad game to emulate by any means. More so, It’s remarkable how the aesthetics of Where Shadows Slumber so deftly interweave themselves with the mechanics of the game, and while it might look like Monument Valley, it never actually feels like Monument Valley.
You control a figure carrying a lantern. That lantern casts light through out the map. by moving yourself, you’re able to throw shadows over specific parts of the map. As shadows pass over certain areas: a broken bridge, a boarded up door, a curiously placed wall, the shadows changes the environment, rebuilding pathways and opening new entrances. Its a simple enough mechanics, but it’s used in some absolutely amazing ways. Often, you’ll wander about a map, casting light this way and that, only to find a corner of the map holds the secrets you’ve been looking for, a corner of the map shrouded in darkness, that needed a faint ray of light to be revealed.
When I played Where Shadows Slumber at Play NYC this summer, it felt incredibly good. Movement is clean and smooth, and the light/shadow mechanic is incredibly well implemented. It’s immediately clear how things work, and it is all conveyed without a lick of actual text, so even when a puzzles hasyou scratching your head, it’s never a question of getting the mechanics to cooperate, just where to apply them.