City of the Shroud – PC Review

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Genre: Action, Indie, RPG, Strategy
Developer: Abyssal Arts Ltd.
Publisher: Abyssal Arts Ltd.
Release Date: Aug 9, 2018
Edited by Thorstag

City of the Shroud is a pretty unique game where it takes you through a visual novel, turn-based strategy game. Though the idea of the game has fallen into an abyss, and it seems they are trying to do what the big storytelling games are doing. I’m not sure there’s much good I can say, even as I was open to, maybe, a new type of genre gameplay.

You’re a farmer that travels to a city for some work, and when you enter the city, monsters appear out of nowhere. Randomly, you have to fight these creatures, even though you just went through guards to get into the city. At this point in the story is where the game begins. You somehow beat these things with your combat prowess that comes from nowhere. From there, you suddenly become the savior that everyone is looking for, onlookers calling you a hero, while you try to figure out what is happening. A stranger is willing to help you out around the city and explain what is going on; at the same time, you have multiple factions trying to get your attention, which are what I would call the citizens’ classes based on income. You have rich people, the workers, politicians, guards and many more. One thing the developers boast about is the immense number of decisions and story changing based dialogue, which is severely missing. Each faction has missions for you to do that affect how each faction views you, but I can tell you now, none of it matters currently.

This game is very dialogue-based, with snippets of actual action gameplay. And when I say dialogue-based, it is just random talking most of the time — not story, not character development, and certainly not anything that really helps you in the game in any way. Already, it felt very dull to the point it was like someone took down random lines taken from a store they were in and used it for dialogue. None of it explains why or what is happening to the city; most of it is either a faction complaining about another faction, or personal stuff that they ask you. Just seems like filler to make the game feel longer than it actually should be. Here is an example of the typical dialogue you’d encounter. Talk to someone in a faction; they say creatures are attacking but think it’s one of the other factions. That’s about it.

As the main character, they make you feel really out of place. Everything seems kind of serious around you, while you feel like a modern person. By a modern person, I mean some dude on the Internet replying to comments on a post. Not entirely sure how to put it, but nothing seemed like it made you belong where you were as the main character in that situation. The way they make you react to everything or even talk seems out of place. It’s not trying to say your character is laid back, or casual like, more as you’re a character from some comedy game in another game that’s entirely different.

Let’s talk about this unique style of gameplay I mentioned earlier with the strategy. The only way I can explain how it works is this. If you’ve ever played a turn-based, small area strategy game on mobile, it works like that. Or you could even say a very small scale version of XCOM, without all the mechanics of XCOM. You have four characters you control, but there are six types of classes for your men to select. A fighter, mage, support, ranged, tank, and, I guess, a guy who jumps around like a ninja, but with guns, and nothing relatable to an actual ninja. So after figuring out which ones you want, the combat is much like XCOM, but without the genuine strategy part. The guys you are controlling have stamina-like bars that expend in movement and attacks. Using the weird wheel they include when fighting, you have to combo some things around to make certain moves. It sounds alright until you are frantically trying to move one guy, while another is getting attacked by three, and then you do your little combo on another, all at the same time. Down the line, you get small upgrades to specific stats and more moves for your wheel. It’s not confusing, just horrible mechanics that feel clunky. They would have been better off leaving it as a turn-based strategy, instead of removing the main component to a game mechanic to make it stand out. I genuinely think it was a significant failure on their part, even though you only fight a few times in the game.

Most of the time, I can understand indie games not having enough resources for certain things, or you might lose some quality to gain some in other places, but this was terrible visually, audibly, and mechanically. The variations between people were just slight color changes, which was hard to get past when the main character of a significant faction is also a beggar on the streets, and the sidekick to another main faction’s leader. But the backgrounds seemed nice. The only audio noticeable was the battle music, which was the same every fight, and the annoying scribble scratching noise during the dialogue that comes with every single sentence.

I was very disappointed with this game. One thing that is even more disappointing is after getting to what I thought was the end of the game, and it was not the end. The developers are doing a chapters type of game, just like I mentioned earlier. Where you have to wait until the next chapter to see what happens; I can say for myself that this definitely did not have anything that wanted me longing for more of the game. You can’t promise expansive choices and re-playability with nothing to show in the first installment. I sincerely hope they don’t charge for the chapters because even at $19.99 (USD) on Steam for the base game, it’s not worth it at all. I can’t even think of going above $5 for this game in its current state.

Pros:

  • Unique strategy idea

Cons:

  • Little gameplay
  • The long dialogue that lead to nothing
  • No actual altering choices currently
  • Little story

Avorok Gives City of the Shroud a Drastik Measure of 2.0 out of 10 (20)

This game was released recently, the developers plan to release additional chapters in time, and I’m not sure if you have to pay more for them. But I genuinely hope they refine the mechanics of the game somehow and choose better writing for the storytelling because I did not get anything out of what is currently in the game. Leaving it as is, for the currently listed price is baffling to me honestly.

You can find it on Steam