Shardlight
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 10

Guide Amy Wellard through a post-apocalyptic world where the poor try to eke out an existence under the oppressive rule of the aristocracy. Shardlight features an interesting setting, memorable characters and some great pixel art visuals. The fact that the puzzles are logical and the audio is superb also makes it easy to recommend to point & click adventure fans. Overall, this is yet another fine release from Wadjet Eye Games and is sure to please fans.

Gameplay: Not too challenging, but enjoyable throughout.

Graphics: Nice pixel art visuals depicting a variety of locations.

Sound: Great soundtrack and stellar voice acting

Summary 8.7 Outstanding
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Shardlight

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games | Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Point & Click Adventure | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Shardlight, the latest point & click adventure from Wadjet Eye Games, opens 20 years after the world was decimated by bombs. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where death, hunger and disease is rife, leaving the poor to scrabble for food and water while the rich “Aristocracy” controls the resources. Amy Wellard is just a simple mechanic, but when she contracts the dreaded Green Lung disease she is forced to take on dangerous government jobs to earn vaccine lottery tickets. It is during one such job that she encounters a dying man whose last wish sets her on a course to change history.

There is a lot of lore behind the world of Shardlight, but it doesn’t force it down your throat. Instead, you can learn as much or as little about the gameworld as you like by talking to characters, examining the environments and generally just paying attention to what’s going on in the background. The game opens with Amy grudgingly attempting to fix a reactor for the ministry of energy and then encountering the person who was sent to do the job before her. It is a great introduction for the bleak world Amy inhabits and makes it clear right from the start that the game doesn’t pull any punches.

We don’t want to spoil too much about the story as it is really quite good, but it definitely has a bit of a “Beneath a Steel Sky” vibe to it. The developers did a great job with the characters in this game as you encounter quite a few memorable people on your journey. The main villain is all pomp, powdered wig and porcelain gas mask, but you can also understand his motivations, which makes him harder to despise. This is something not a lot of games can pull off and it makes the story even more intriguing. Of course, wherever there is oppression there is also sure to be rebellion and Amy is quickly caught up in the middle of it all.

Amy is a great lead character and her tale had us hooked from start to end. Despite the fact that the world is so bleak that it has a cult worshiping the Reaper and praying to him for deliverance from life, Amy remains kindhearted. This doesn’t make her weak as she definitely knows how to fend for herself, but it’s nice to play as a character who is not jaded and cynical. The story really puts her through the wringer though, and before the end credits roll she will have seen some very disturbing things.

Fans of Wadjet Eye Games will know what to expect in terms of gameplay as Shardlight is a fairly typical point & click adventure. Players can left-click to interact with things, right click to examine them or move the mouse cursor to the top of the screen to view their inventory. Shardlight keeps your inventory down to a short list of items, which cuts down on the guesswork and it also tends to keep its locations relevant to the task at hand. This is great as you are not left wandering around aimlessly when stumped, but some players can find it a bit restrictive. The game is also fond of not allowing you to leave certain locations until you’ve solved a puzzle, which is something we appreciated, but others might not. The puzzles are for the most part very logical and we were only really stumped about once or twice during the course of the game. A keen eye is required to spot some objects and some puzzles rely maybe a bit too much on shooting things with a crossbow, but overall we enjoyed the experience.

Players who loved the point & click adventures from developers like Revolution Software and Sierra will enjoy the visuals in Shardlight. The pixel-art visuals may be low-rest, but each scene is still packed with plenty of detail and the portraits for each character are great. As you wander about the various locations you’ll see ordinary people going about their business which, along with some nice animations, make the gameworld feel alive. The glowing shards hanging everywhere also adds plenty of atmosphere to each scene. Those who are used to the high resolution 2D or 3D visuals of modern titles might turn their noses up at the retro look of Shardlight, but personally we think the artists did a great job. Games with post-apocalyptic settings tend to look a little formulaic, but Shardlight is brimming with its own style. It even surprised us with a couple of very violent animations, such as people getting crushed, stabbed or decapitated.

A special mention should go to the audio, which is downright superb. The music is kept low key and moody, so it never becomes distracting, but there are also a couple of tracks that are quite memorable. The voice acting steals the show, though, with the actress voicing the lead doing an excellent job in particular. She really makes her character believable and even manage to sound genuinely excited when talking about the various car wrecks strewn about, just like a real mechanic would. Most of the supporting cast sound great as well and even the minor characters do a pretty good job. After completing the game you can listen to some blooper voice tracks and these allow you to clearly hear how much the actors were enjoying their roles. In addition, the game features commentary tracks from people such as the artist, producer and musician, which provide some awesome insights into how the game was made.

It’s not the longest point & click adventure we’ve ever played and neither are the puzzles particularly challenging, but the setting and characters of Shardlight really drew us in. We always wanted to see what is around the next corner or find out what challenges Amy will have to overcome. Anyone who enjoys a good adventure game with memorable characters and an interesting setting won’t be disappointed with Shardlight.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows ME or higher
  • Processor: Pentium or higher
  • Memory: 64 MB RAM
  • Graphics: 640×400, 32-bit colour: 700 Mhz system minimum
  • DirectX: Version 5.2
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: All DirectX-compatible sound cards
  • OS: Windows ME or higher
  • Processor: Pentium or higher
  • Memory: 64 MB RAM
  • Graphics: 640×400, 32-bit colour: 700 Mhz system minimum
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: All DirectX-compatible sound cards

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