Title: Shadows 2: Perfidia
Developer: MrCiastku/IceTorch Interactive
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Genre: Adventure, Action, Horror, Thriller
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 06/08/2019
Price: £7.19 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title. *£6.11(-15%) Offer until 20/08/2019*
Do You Like Scary …. Games?
Horror games are designed to scare the player. To lure you into the darkness and leave you shaken and terrified, but all too often, once you get there, as scared as you may be, you function just fun. You get a health bar, and as long as you don’t get hurt, you stay alive.
But what about your mind? The horrors you are forced to witness would surely take their toll on your mind, grinding you down one bloody footprint, one chilling whisper at a time. That is where Shadows 2: Perfidia on the Nintendo Switch tries to change the game.
Using games like Layers of Fear as their inspiration, the team over at MrCiastku have created a chilling horror experience where you need to protect your sanity at all costs. How does the gameplay? Does it hit the mark as a horror game? Keep reading to find out.
A Well-Crafted Atmospheric Experience
I have to be honest, visually, Shadows 2: Perfidia, while intense, dances with and often crosses the line of, too much of a good thing makes it bad. The graphics are basic and would seem to be somewhat generic in terms of the construct. Possibly even stock images. However, the Developers are an Indie Studio, and the game initially started on itch.io so I can appreciate that it was built on a budget.
Also, you know what, graphics are not always the most important part of a game. Yes, a beautiful game is nice to look at, but there is much more that goes into making a good game.
What are you going to find in Shadows 2: Perfidia? There are a lot of rather simplistic items and a lot of duplication. The different levels of the game are the same few corridors and layouts reused without much adjustment. The body parts that lay scattered are all copies of the same few parts, and the objects you can interact with are rudimentary in their design. But luckily for you, you will most like be too busy bracing yourself for the next moment of terror to even notice.
I also think that the style of the visuals enhances the general undertone of the game. You can tell something is a chair, or a bed or a desk without hesitation, but they are basic images that add to the dream/nightmare-like atmosphere. The lingering question of is it all real? Is it happening? I don’t think crystal clear high-res graphics would have worked anywhere near as well in this game.
Shadows That Go Bump in the Night
The audio in this game is very good because there is little of it, but it is all used to great effect. There is no music, there are only the sounds of an empty office building, and the maddening cries of the shadows. The slamming of doors that were locked when you tried them, the rattling of door handles, pacing footsteps following you along the corridor, drawing ever closer, urging you to run, to hide, to do anything but turn around.
The audio is used to good effect, acting in many places as a guide, keeping you moving in the right direction. The occasional piece of misdirection is thrown in to make sure you don’t get too complacent.
Audio queues also play a role in helping control your sanity. Your breath quickens, your heart starts to pound. When you hear this, you know its time to find a room, close the door, close your eyes and steady yourself.
Are You Afraid of the Dark
In Shadows 2: Perfidia, you have the choice of playing as one of two characters. There is Joe, or there is Michael. Each character has their own story, but both are based in the same building, with minor changes in design.
Joes story uses the same levels as the original Shadows game only with a few enhancements, while Michael’s journey would appear to be new. Having never played a previous instalment, I only have this menu screen comment to go by.
Both Joe and Michael are security guards in what has to be the weirdest and creepiest office building on the planet.
Starting up on the 10th floor, your mission is to escape. Yes, there is a story attached to each character, but it is more one of discovery than anything else. You find notes littered around the floors, each of which is essentially a maze – much more so for Michael’s story.
The levels start simple but grow harder and longer as you move from floor to floor. Yet the basic concept remains the same. Find items, solve some relatively simple puzzles and reach the elevator. Sometimes this is as simple as finding a series of keys to unlock various doors, and at others, it involves using items found on the floor, such as a hand saw to dissect a human body you find in the toilet. This produces a key that unlocks the final door and brings you to the end of the level.
Most of the puzzles are relatively simple are revolve around collecting numbers and performing basic sums, the formula for which is also in a note somewhere in the level. Other times you need to decode a message to unlock a laptop of open a door, but again these are relatively straight forward and not likely to hold you up for too long.
There is no combat in the game, but the danger is everywhere. The shadow monsters are after you, so tread carefully.
A Terrifying Game of Hide and Seek
The controls are straight forward. You can run, crouch, turn your flashlight on and off, and interact with objects. You will find items scattered around the levels, but the core items such as soda cans and batteries for your flashlight are few and far between so use them sparingly. I spent several levels pawing around in the dark because I let my batteries die.
While the game is over-reliant on jump scares, with every interaction with the shadow people being one, the developers to a great job of creating tension. Simple sound effects and the clever use of the dark make Shadows 2: Perfidia a claustrophobic experience.
It’s just a shame that you almost get used to it after the first few levels, after which you have the patterns or item locations and likely tactics for level completion down. At this point, the horror slips away, and the game can become a little mundane.
There is a constant atmosphere of both imminent threat and encroaching insanity, but due to its unrelenting nature, you become accustomed to it, and so the litany of bodies that are strewn about the room, and the sudden appearance of the mannequins – that scared the sh*t out of me in the early levels – become expected and therefore lose their impact. It’s a shame, but I don’t think any other balance could have been achieved.
An Exercise in Fear and Sanity Management
Shadows 2: Perfidia is a game, unlike many others, you will play. It is an exercise in fear. The point of playing it is to test yourself against the jumps. While there is a storyline, it feels somewhat secondary. Yes, you are dragged deeper into the game, but it’s not so much the story that does it but rather the need it plants inside your brain, to escape. It’s a different experience and one I think plays nicely on the Switch.
That being said, it is more enjoyable when played in docked mode. It works and runs just fine in handheld, but the dark lighting and the gloomy atmosphere make it very hard work on the smaller screen.
One key annoyance that ground away at me, and was clear evidence of the lower budget of the game was the size of the hitboxes for objects. At times you needed to be almost standing on top of a key to pick it up, while other times, you would be walking by a door and the interact icon would pop up even when you were not even close to being in the right position. You get used to it fairly quickly, but at the same time, it remained an irritation for the whole playthrough.
Clocking in the Overtime
For me, the replayability factor of the game is low simply because there is nothing but the core storyline to complete. Unless you want to return and better your run time, then there is nothing drawing you back for more. Yes, there is a collectable in each level, but it’s one item, and more often than not you will find it during your first playthrough.
A Scary Game That Almost Hits the Mark
Shadows 2: Perfidia is a scary game for the first third. After that, you become a little desensitised to the jump scares. Yes, there is still a chill factor, and you will get that nervous tickle in the back of your brain when you think the Shadows are closing in, but that isn’t enough to make it a horror gem.
Jump scares alone don’t make a game, but I can appreciate what the team was attempting to do, and that is something I applaud. The sanity control is a mechanic I can see being effective in future games whether by this developer or adopted by others.
If you like being scared, then there is fun to be had in this game. The atmosphere that lingers over every room and every level is one of intense dark portent. Those of a nervous disposition should probably stay away. But ultimately the game while relatively short falls flat due to its over-reliance on a single moment of actual terror. You come to not only expect but not care about the shadows, and that hurts the final product a little too much.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Shadows 2: Perfidia from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Shadows-2-Perfidia-1612344.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.