If you have played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, then you should be a bit familiar with how Shadowlands works. Even if you haven’t (like me), Shadowlands is still an enjoyable experience for anyone who is even remotely interested in a beautiful RPG world.
The first thing you’ll notice with Shadowlands are the graphics. This is top-of-the-line quality graphics you’re getting, and it’s really hard to believe that this is a mobile game. If you’ve played Skyrim, you’ll pretty much feel like you’re playing it again, except on your iPhone or iPad. These are beautiful, console-like graphics we’re talking about, after all. The 3-D character models look realistic, environments are lush and suck you in, and the animations are smooth, for the most part. Sometimes movements can look a bit weird, but it still works. The soundtrack is also beautiful, as with most RPGs.
The game will start out with a battle from the war against the dark elves. You’ll get hit with something that makes you black out, and then you will awaken at a local guild in a city called Aven, and like most RPG story lines, you’ll wonder how you got there and why you’re alive. Then you’ll find yourself on a quest to find the Archmage, and the whole game world opens up to you.
The best thing about Ravensword games are the immersive worlds. Just because you get sent on a quest that is part of the story doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go through it as fast as possible. Like Skyrim, Shadowlands’ world is huge, and there are plenty of places for players to explore, side quests to find and complete, and treasures to find. And everything is so beautiful that it would be silly to not take the time to investigate the world. Talking to NPCs will also bring up various decisions for you, which can change the story.
While the first war battle doesn’t reveal your character’s face, the moment you wake up is the time you get the customize your character to your heart’s content. The character editor allows you to change things like skin color, face shape, details, hair, and more. Want your hero to have a cool mustache? Yeah, you can have that too. As you’re picking out the finer details of your character’s appearance, you can even move the camera around to get a better view of what your guy looks like.
The left side of the screen will let you control the movement of your character, such as running forward, stepping back, and strafing. To change the view of the camera, you can move your finger around on the right hand side of the screen. Double tapping on this side will also trigger the auto-run ability. The action buttons will be on this side as well (attack, jump, block). You can get a mini-map by tapping on the compass direction at the top, and you can toggle first-person or third-person perspective with the button in the top right corner.
As you progress in the game, you will unlock spells and abilities by performing actions. These can be equipped in the four slots in the bottom center of the screen, which can be shown or hidden by tapping on the thin silver bar. You can also increase your proficiency with weapons and defending by simply using different weapon types in battle.
Battle happens in real-time whenever you run up to a creature from behind or when they detect you and take action first. Tap on the attack button to attack, or hold it to block with your weapon. Defeated enemies will get you experience points for leveling up, and corpses can be looted for gold and items.
As you level up, you will earn talent and attribute points. Spend these wisely, as you can only get so many of them during the game. This also makes the game flexible to each player’s play style, and you can focus on being a melee fighter, spellcaster, ranged damage dealer, or a mix of everything! It really is up to you, and that’s one of the best things about the Skyrim-style gameplay.
You can use your acquired gold at merchants to get better weapons, armor, trinkets, spells, and even food items to recover health. Each weapon will affect your fighting style, obviously, but armor is more about defense and weight (the heavier it is, the slower you move). Lockpicks are also available for pickpocketing, as well as magical runes and more.
While I clearly have not finished the game, I have been spending some time with it and am thoroughly enjoying what I’ve come across so far. The battles are fun and challenging, although the camera can get a bit annoying at times. There are 13 achievements to obtain in Game Center, so there’s always something to strive for.
It’s not perfect, though, as I’ve come across some visual glitches, such as a big rat enemy attacking me through the ground. However, glitches happen, and hopefully Crescent Moon fixes these in an update.
For $6.99, you will be getting one of the best immersive experiences on iOS this year. If you are a fan of Skyrim, or just RPGs in general, then you do not want to miss Ravensword: Shadowlands for your iPhone and iPad.