Review: Where Shadows Slumber

Review: Where Shadows Slumber

Have you ever wanted a puzzle game with a dark atmosphere? One where shadows and environments are filled with a bit of creepiness, but the puzzles themselves are still devoid of death and harm? Where Shadows Slumber balances mildly creepy settings with puzzles you can take on at your own pace, and while there may not be any worry about failure, there’s plenty of thought required to figure them out.

Title: Where Shadows Slumber
Developer: Game Revenant
Platform: iOS
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by developer
Interface: iPhone 5S touchscreen
Available on iOS (iPhone and iPad), demo available on Android

Where Shadows Slumber is a mobile adventure puzzle game that takes place in a world that has been plunged into darkness. You will guide Obe, an old man who discovers a mysterious lantern in the forest, on one last journey.

The only tools at your disposal are your wits and the chaotic nature of the universe. Anything that is not touched by light has the freedom to change. This governing principle will be your guide in the darkness, but also your undoing. After all, if you are not touched by the light, you have the freedom to change as well.

What will you become?

There are lots of puzzle games out there that are creepy and a bit gory where every step could lead to your doom. There are also lots of puzzle games that are cheery and bright, where messing with a level long enough will pretty much guarantee success if you’re patient and pay attention. But there really aren’t many games that lie between the two like Where Shadows Slumber.

The puzzles are based entirely around clicking on various places on the screen to move and interacting with select objects such as dragging, raising, lowering, or turning things. The main twist is that things change when shadows pass over them, and since you’re carrying a lantern you’ll almost always cast shadows over things as long as there’s something tall nearby to block the light. That bridge that’s missing a piece may be fully formed if you walk past something and make a shadow cross it, but beware what else may change in the process. Some of these end up being mere twists on simple button puzzles, but as the game goes on and you progress further away from the prison you escaped, puzzles become far more complex.

Then there’s the theme of the shadows themselves. Without an explanation on how the shadows alter things, you’re left wondering what exactly is going on. Are you altering time, perhaps bringing about a past when things were more stable or a future when things are better? Or are you actually causing these changes yourself with your lantern and the shadows it casts? Can you cause structures to crumble and reform like magic, and later even decide who lives and dies as a fatal/rebirthing shadow passes over them? Later chapters even involve what could be considered zombie people who march endlessly, altered by your own position and the way you alter their paths, but they cast no light and alter nothing themselves aside from stepping on buttons you lead them to, further reinforcing that you’re the only one with this power.

As for the puzzles, I really enjoyed the progression of each chapter. Each is themed and includes multiple levels, introducing a new mechanic and then letting you put it to good use along with those you’ve already learned. Each chapter also takes place in a new area, meaning that the setting is vastly changed and feels fairly different. I’ll admit that there were several levels I passed merely by messing around long enough to make it work, but most levels required taking a good look at what’s around, seeing what everything does and what the various shadows you cast do in each particular level, then making it all work. All the while, Obe (the character you play as) carries his lantern and walks toward his objective without a worry in the world.

After each chapter you’re given a short video to progress the story, although these have no narration and typically boil down to you fighting with one of the animal captors that imprisoned you. This is a dark, mildly creepy game, and the videos are no exception. If you thought you’d defeat a captor, give em a thumbs up and go about your merry way having taught them a lesson, you are greatly mistaken!

Even though this isn’t a free mobile game, I was surprised at the length of it. The game is easily several hours long on the first playthrough, and with few exceptions all the levels are short enough to complete on even the shortest bathroom breaks or bus rides.

Where Shadows Slumber is also a perfect Halloween/spooky month game for folks like me who can’t really handle jump scares, gore, or super scary stuff but still want some spookiness.

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