I came across Shadow Depths while browsing Desura and decided to give it a try. The comments were mainly positive and the trailer hinted at old-school run-jump-avoid gameplay which was exactly what I was in the mood for. Now, around 2 hours later, I am left only with a bank account that is bereft of five dollars and a sense of bitter disappointment mingled with regret and a dash of humiliation.
5 bucks will earn you a 2 hour deficit in your leisure time which you will mourn until your dying day...
The 8-bit graphics are appealing and well-rendered. I especially enjoyed the death animations—delightfully gory for a retro platformer.
I guess you could play it again if you want to collect all the dirty old men, but why would you want to?
Overall, this game feels unfinished—as though the creator got bored and wandered away from the project a quarter of the way into development. The first level is a tutorial which teaches you the keyboard commands to control the game's protagonist. Shadow Depths began its brisk descent in my estimation within fifteen minutes of gameplay. The tutorial seemed to be taking an inordinate amount of time to complete. I grew exasperated as it seemed to drag on without teaching me anything new. Then I reached the boss. The final (and only) boss in the game.
Now, perhaps I am being too fussy and demanding, but entering a door which leads to an area that is almost identical to the previous area in terms of obstacles and appearance doesn't feel like a transition between levels to me. I will now hang my head in shame and admit that, yes, I thought I was playing through a very long, repetitive and increasingly pointless tutorial up until the moment I reached the final boss. It is quite likely that this is largely attributable to some mental deficiencies on my part (today was an off day dammit!), but the repetitious monotone level design coupled with an absence of transition cues are also to blame.
The developer also decided it was a good idea to add a few more “levels” after you've beaten the boss, either to torment the player with the possibility that the game is just beginning and there is new and interesting content just ahead, or—and this is the more likely scenario—because the creator is selling a game that isn't even close to being worthy of release as a finished product. I checked just to make sure I hadn't missed some piece of information explaining the game's status as being incomplete and under development in Shadow Depths' profile on Desura or on the developer's blog, but there was nothing that led me to believe that this is the case. Here is a representation of the sequence of emotions I experienced while playing Shadow Depths:Hopeful—> Expectant—> Bored—> Aggravated—> Stupid—> Disappointed—> Cheated—> Jaded.
The truly depressing part of my playthrough is that the game had loads of potential that will (presumably) never be realized. As it stands now, Shadow Depths is the gaming equivalent of Despondex.
This game is an auditory wasteland. No music. There were only two sound effects that I detected: when I died via blade/spike/green goo and when I interacted with the disturbing pedos scattered around the levels. There was a jumping sound effect in the trailer, but it was mysteriously absent in my version.
I don't expect much in terms of plot when it comes to platform adventure games. While titles such as Braid have proven that there are exceptions, they are predisposed to be stale and predictable. Shadow Depths succeeds in disappointing even the lowest of expectations by having no story at all. You run around a dungeon avoiding obstacles while creepy old men watch from the shadows and then disappear when you catch them in the act. The lurking pedos and the overall “rapey” vibe they exude are the closest thing we get to a storyline. There is no explanation as to what your goal is, let alone why you are pursuing it.
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