Shadowhand: RPG Card Game
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 9

Shadowhand is another entertaining, addictive and polished solitaire based game from Grey Alien Games, creators of the very enjoyable Regency Solitaire. It shares some similarities with its predecessor, but the story is brand new and the gameplay offers enough new additions and tweaks to ensure that it feels fresh. Luck plays a big role in the game, which is unavoidable for the genre, but careful planning and the use of the right items can help a lot. This means the game is a lot more strategic than you might think, and we can heartily recommend it to fans of the genre.

Gameplay: The solitaire based gameplay is addictive as always, but the addition of duels and other elements makes it even better.

Graphics: The art and design of the game looks great and everything feels very polished.

Sound: Sadly no voice acting, but everything from the music to the sound effects is top notch

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Shadowhand: RPG Card Game

Developer: Grey Alien Games | Publisher: Positech Games | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Indie / RPG / Strategy | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

After helping Bella to solitaire her way through romantic Regency England, Grey Alien Games is back with another addictive card game to help make your free time vanish. This time the setting is 18th Century England, but you are going to have to help the protagonist get her hands a lot dirtier than Bella ever did. Shadowhand is being advertised as a strategic RPG card game, but solitaire fans need not worry as it still forms the heart of the game. Lady Cornelia Darkmoor steps into the role of protagonist for this game and things kick off with her and a companion being ambushed in their carriage. With her dear friend kidnapped Lady Cornelia takes on the mantle of a highway-woman named Shadowhand to uncover what is going on. However, her search not only places her on the wrong side of the law, but also uncovers a whole web of lies and deceit that stretches closer to home than what she ever expected.

Regency Solitaire cemented the fact that husband and wife duo, Grey Alien Games, knows how to make a solid and enjoyable card game. This meant that there was a lot of pressure on Shadowhand to not only offer a similarly entertaining and addictive experience, but to also surpass it. Overall, this is something that they have managed to accomplish, but as with any card game that relies on luck, it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

Shadowhand challenges players with more than 150 levels, that have been spread across twenty two chapters. Each chapter is set in a different location and features different enemies to face. While the game still features traditional solitaire levels, where your objective is to clear the board before depleting your stockpile of cards. Each level features a brand new layout and new obstacles such locks, darkness and thorns are also gradually introduced. So far, all of this will sound very familiar to fans of Regency Solitaire, but Shadowhand has a couple of new tricks up its sleeve. First up are the aforementioned enemies that crop up every now and then to try and stop you. These range from pirates to peasants and each one of them come armed to the teeth and ready to take you down. Luckily, your character can also be equipped with up two weapons as well as a range of outfits, gear and abilities.

During duels, your goal is to decrease your opponent’s health to zero, while preventing them from doing the same to you. This is done by taking turns to clear the playing field of cards, while charging your weapons, activating appropriate abilities and making use of the gear that you selected beforehand. As with all solitaire based games, luck still plays a big role in these battles, but you can sway things in your favor by planning ahead, equipping the right stuff and making good use of your abilities.

You can still end up with a streak of bad luck that can make a battle feel impossible, but with some perseverance and a bit of luck, none of them are impossible. For players who are allergic to struggling, the game also has a “Relaxed” mode where enemies are not only weaker, but duels can be skipped. On the other hand, for players who like a challenge and enjoy spending time carefully planning their loadout for the next battle, there is also a “Very Hard” mode that features tougher enemies. Most players will want to stick to “Normal” mode for the initial playthrough, though, as it offers a decent challenge without being too unfair.

Shadowhand is still a single player, solitaire based, card-game, but there are a couple of things that differentiate it from Regency Solitaire. Apart from the previously mentioned duels, the game only makes use of cards numbered from zero to nine. This means that there are no Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces to deal with. Jokers and spare cards can still be uncovered while playing, though, and then saved up for later use. While playing you will also earn gold, which can be used to purchase goodies between levels. A lot of the hats, masks, coats, shirts, belts, pants, shoes and weapons that you can use are rewarded as loot when completing levels, while others can be bought with your gold. The same goes for the gear cards that you can use during duels, although these have to be replaced with new ones after you have used them.

The nice thing about the outfits in this game is the fact that they not only visibly change the appearance of your character, but also bestow different types of bonuses. For example, if you know that you are going to be facing a tough opponent where taking your turn first could be a huge advantage, then opting for items with a “stealth” bonus is a good idea. The same goes for weapons, as some enemies may be more susceptible to being stunned or bleeding than others, so it pays to have the right weapons for the job. You can only take three or four gear items into battle with you, so picking the right ones can really turn the tide in your favor. It is also nice to have lots of different options for how you want to take down opponents too. For example, some players may favor using a Belladonna grenade to slow down the weapon charging of their opponent, while others may go for a more aggressive approach by using a snuff bomb to weaken the defense of their rival and then hitting them with everything they have. Gear can also be consumables like food and drink to restore your own health, cure poison or halt bleeding, so be sure to pick wisely.

If all of this wasn’t enough, the game also features both active and passive abilities that can be unlocked and equipped. I love the “Charging Stallion” active ability that removes two random cards from the board, as it can make a big difference on some of the more restrictive levels. The “Shadowhand” ability to shuffle all the cards on the playing field is also very handy. Active abilities have to be “charged” by successfully removing cards from the board, so they are best saved for when you really need them. Passive abilities on the other hand kick in automatically when equipped and could be anything from “Owl Vision” to reveal face down special cards under your cursor, to the “Hangman’s Rope” for removing two random playable cards at the start of each hand. Furthermore, your character earns new ability points as you progress through the game, which can be used to increase the stats of things like guile, finesse, prosperity and more. Each point you add to an ability improves the chances they have of bestowing their advantages, such as increasing the odds of finding jokes and spare cards, drawing better stock cards, uncovering more gold, and much more.

Overall, the gameplay of Shadowhand is as solid and addictive as Regency Solitaire was and unless you really can’t deal with the big role that random number generation plays, it is a lot of fun. Even then, the “Relaxed” mode will ensure that you can get through the game and experience the whole story without too much struggling. In terms of visuals, the game looks good and features plenty of different backdrops as well as interesting characters. Chapters take place on backdrops like a masquerade ball, smuggler’s bay, library, marsh and many others. It’s nice to see the look of your character change based on the outfits you chose for her, right down to wearing a fake beard if you wish. You can also enable or disable the blood in the game, depending on how savage you want the duels to be. The user interface is also very straightforward and intuitive, so you can focus on your strategy. Shadowhand features, music, ambient sound and sound effects, and you can adjust the volume for all of these independently. The music is really good and fits the mood of the story, and the same can be said about the effects. It is a pity that the game doesn’t feature any voice acting, but this is quite understandable considering the size of the team making it.

There is a lot more that can be said about Shadowhand, but this review is already getting too lengthy. Suffice to say, it is a very worthy follow-up to Regency Solitaire and kudos to Grey Alien Games for not just simply rehashing the same formula, but making the effort to create a new experience. The basics of the game might be very similar, but it has a lot more depth and the duels add some extra excitement. It took us about eighteen hours to complete the story on “Normal”, but even afterwards the urge to go back and play around with the stats to improve our odds for some of the harder battles was strong. There is just something very satisfying about clearing out a level and earning those coveted three stars or completing a duel by landing a hefty overkill on your opponent. Ultimately, we enjoyed our time with Shadowhand and it definitely offers a lot of bang for your bucks. It is not without frustration, but there is always the feeling that lady luck might just glance in your direction if you tried one more time.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: 2 GHZ
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 7.0
  • Storage: 325 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Any
  • OS: 10.6
  • Processor: 2 GHZ
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512MB VRAM
  • Storage: 325 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Any

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