Release date: March 8, 2016
Shardlight is the new point and click adventure game from Wadjet Eye Games. Wadjet Eye, creator of the Blackwell series, is my favorite indie publisher, so I always look forward to their games.
This game starts 20 years after the bomb drops, destroying much of civilization as we know it. You play Amy Wellard, a young girl who just started showing symptoms of the green lung, a disease that is slowly killing much of the population. A vaccine for the disease is available, but doses go primarily to the affluent. Amy, a lowly mechanic, starts doing odd jobs for the government in order to get lottery tickets that allow her to get access to the vaccine. These jobs are dangerous, and the game starts off on her first job.
The game title, Shardlight, refers to the glowing pieces of crystal that are used as a light source throughout the city. They were created by some form of radiation; however, aside from that they have no relevance to the plot.
As Amy searches the sewers to restart a reactor that provides power to the elite, she meets a dying worker who had been sent to repair the reactor prior to Amy being sent. He was injured by a cave-in. It turns out he's an old friend of her father; and this starts an adventure that leads Amy to search for a cure. During the game Amy will meet some of the aristocrat rulers, a group of rebels, a death worshipping cult, and the Reaper who brings death to all.
A few times throughout the game, I was confused as to what to do next, but by revisiting all the available locations I managed to get the story moving along. The game map does a good job of removing locations where you have nothing to accomplish .
The first thing that grabbed me from the title screen was how great the background music is. It's a Spanish-sounding guitar piece. I don’t often notice a game's music, but this game resonated with me and they did a great job with the soundtrack. The voiceovers are acceptable, as always.
Wadjet Eye uses a retro-graphic style in its games, so they have a lot of pixel art. This pixel art is some of the best out there in the adventure game genre, and this game is no exception. However, I tire of retro pixel art. I’d rather see graphic quality on par with Deponia or Broken Sword 5. There's one puzzle in the game where I think the pixels caused me to have issues. You had to use chalk on a grid of letters, but the letters were hard to read, and I’m not sure if it was a poor font choice or the pixelization on my large screen that made things hard to read.
One of the new standards of current adventure games is the ability to highlight all the active hotspots on the current screen. I grew quite fond of that while playing Book of Unwritten Tales. Unfortunately, that functionality is missing from this game, but its absence didn’t detract from my ability to progress through the story. When you do explore the screen, the tooltip for the hotspot always shows up at the bottom of the screen.This is unusual to see, but worked incredibly well .
If you’re looking for a classic point-and-click adventures, then you’ll love Shardlight. The story, characters, voice acting, and music are a treat. I’m glad I got to take some time to walk in the shoes of Amy Wellard.
+ Good story design with multiple endings
+ Great Music
- Retro graphics, which sometimes worked to the detriment of the puzzles