Earlier this month, we had an AMA with some of the developers behind Shadows of Adam over on our Discord. During that event, we received some insight into the people behind the scenes. Among other things, the team spoke of the ups and downs early on in development, and about the naming convention behind both the title and main protagonist.
Democracy won, and Kellan was born to replace the original name, Josel. It was awesome getting to speak to and learn about what made the creators of this game world tick, and ultimately how it took shape. So, like many others, I picked the title up and dove right in to the world of Shadows of Adam. The game took me back to a simpler time in gaming, but a few things about the title have stuck in the forefront of my mind. Today, I’d like to share these Shadows of Adam “bits” as well as some general thoughts on 16-bit games.
Over the weekend, I was enjoying SoA on the couch – playing in handheld mode – while watching some horses run in a circle with a crowd filled with big hats. At some point, my wife walked into the room and inquired about what I was playing. When I told her, she followed up by asking “is that a Sega game?” I took a deep breath – I could not let my childhood emotions get the better of me. It wasn’t her fault that, at the age of 5, the boy down the street (Chris) would never pass the controller and let me play one level of Sonic. I explained how this was a modern game using the 16-bit format as the Sega Genesis and SNES one did back in the earlier days of gaming. I told her how it plays like the games of old, but how it includes the gaming knowledge that has cultivated over the past three decades since these consoles first filled homes across the world.
Shadows of Adam includes some of my favorite aesthetics from the 16-bit era. Floppy character hair while traversing the streets, large, popping eyes before OMG was commonplace in text, and wonderfully unique monster creations to fight. Then, you have camera work to drive home that impactful experience when you walk over a hill and you see a magnificent castle, on the horizon, for the first time. Combining this with the music throughout Shadows of Adam takes me back to my earliest days of gaming – it is wonderful when you can have a moment in a video game which takes you back to another time.
There are some things, however, that I don’t mind keeping in the past. Self-mapping dungeons, pointless grinding, and, at the top of the list, a lack of save options. The quality of life features that many developers are putting into games these days are welcome, and highly appreciated, on my end. Being able to save anywhere in the game is amazing – I inaudibly give a “thank you” from my heart whenever a game includes it. That said, I loved the interaction with the game’s savepoint, which you would often give you a friendly reminder not only to save, but also sometimes give hints relevant to your quest.
The major point that stands out to me, and sets Shadows of Adam and other games today apart from the golden games of old, is the pacing. Shadows of Adam is wonderfully paced and makes me look forward to the next part of the story, something that games today can struggle with and, for me, makes many RPGs stand out. There is something to be said to the art of storytelling. Being able to give a story life throughout the game is an art, and a number of games are focusing on this now. Largely, the pacing is helped in Shadows of Adam by the lack of grinding, thought it still keeps the story moving in a fashion, that I believe, would still be refreshing even if you did need to grind on occasion. With all of the wonderful games in this day and age, I wish more game would follow this model.
There is another component of Shadows of Adam that really speaks to me – the loot system. I haven’t quite made it to the end game yet, but there are few things I enjoy more in a video game than loot. In the AMA with the developers, they talked about the end game loot and side quests. Early on in the game, you are provided with a system of crafting your loot. There is just something I enjoy about “out with the old, in with the new” in videos games. I do not mind a little work at the end of an enjoyable game to get those “top shelf” items. The last game that I played that did this well was Tales of Vesperia, and after a bit of work and help from YouTube, I was able to get all the final end game weapons. Additionally, a NG+ mode has either just dropped or will be dropping soon for Shadows of Adam.
These added components, combined with the look and sound of these retro titles, put me in a wonderful place when gaming, especially while being able to play handheld on a couch while watching some horses run in circles. What a wonderful time to be alive! That being said, with the number of wonderful games to play in this age of gaming, I implore more developers to follow suit – Shadows of Adam shows what games look like when ample time and passion is provided during its creation.