play through The Shadow of the Guild much like reading a Chris Claremont comic book. The hand-drawn artwork is a joy to behold, but you better be prepared to accept the fact that you’re going to be reading a lot. In the game, you play as an assassin/spy called Yaran Malak. Your mission is to infiltrate the enemy empire and decimate it from within. Beyond that, most excessively long dialogs can probably be skipped.
That said, in these kinds of 2D side-scrolling games, the story is rarely the reason to play them. In games of this style, gameplay is king and therefore the gameplay must be absolutely solid. Unfortunately, in The Shadow of the Guildthe gameplay is not solid.
The Shadow of the Guild is out now and available on Steam.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s floating game mechanics in a 2D action/platformer. This style of play demands a precise control scheme that allows the player to feel in complete control of the on-screen character and therefore any mistakes made are no one else’s fault but their own.
This is the case in Super meat boy and this is the case in The Binding of Isaacbut unfortunately this is not the case in The Shadow of the Guild. With the amount of jumps required to play through the game, it’s truly baffling that Guild Studio made the decision to make the jump mechanic so floaty.
As the player plays through the levels, there will be several instances where they either don’t feel like they are going to make a jump or completely skip that jump. Get used to the reduced force of gravity present in The Shadow of the Guild Takes some time.
Certainly, in the first two levels of the game, the imprecise mechanics do not seem too cumbersome, once the player gets used to the floating jump mechanic. This buoyancy actually allows the player to essentially fly through the level, from enemy to enemy, feeling like some sort of slashy tornado.
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The combat mechanics are quite simple, but they too feel imprecise. The player can press the sword button three times in a row, but with the entry delay, the on-screen character will still swing their sword long after the last button has been pressed. Still, with enough buttons, cool combos can be achieved. Apart from heavy and light attacks, there are a few magic abilities available to the player, the first of which is a thunderbolt, which can also be used to solve light puzzles.
There are also a handful of boss fights scattered throughout the game. Unfortunately, these aren’t the most engaging. Most of them are easy enough that with enough buttons and health potions consumed, the player can smash their way through. Frankly, there’s no real reason to drag out those monotonous, HP-sponging encounters any longer than necessary.
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The place where gameplay really suffers from the imprecise control scheme is during arbitrary stealth sections of the game. There are rubrics in The Shadow of the Guild where the player must walk through an entire room of enemies without alerting a single one. While the hand-drawn 2D assassination animations are a delight to watch, pulling them off without alerting the enemy you’re sneaking up on is unnecessarily difficult due to the game’s imprecise controls.
Globally, The Shadow of the Guild has an undeniable retro charm, reminiscent of early Prince of Persia Games. While the game is fun to watch, it tells a lackluster story in an overly long way and its imprecise control scheme hampers instant gameplay.
The Shadow of the Guild was reviewed on PC with code provided by Bonus Stage Publishing.
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