Preview: Warlocks vs. Shadows

I didn’t know a lot before I started playing Warlocks vs. Shadows. I knew it’s a RPG-brawler and as soon as I looked on the Steam page, I saw the pixelated graphics. So I started playing it and I was surprised at how much I like this game.

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• Developer: Frozen District
• Publisher: ONE MORE LEVEL
• Reviewed on: PC
• Also Available On: Mac, Linux
• Release Date: Available Now (Early Access)

The game starts out like most RPGs do. There is a force destroying the world – in this case the Shadows – and you have to stop them. To do that, you choose one of ten warlocks – five of those are available at the beginning of the game, the other five are unlocked during the campaign. As this game is still in early access, I could only play the first three areas of the game and unlock three new warlocks.

The warlocks aren’t your typical RPG heroes. Sure you have your healer, your wizards, your warriors and your rogues. But they’re all vastly different, in their skill set and their appearance. Let’s take Jake, the wizard for example: He’s a child with a dog on his head, and a phoenix floating above him. His main attack is a firebolt which he doesn’t shoot himself – the phoenix does – so you aiming can be a bit tricky. As all the other heroes he has a dash and shield ability, both fire-themed. What I love the most about the boy wizard is his special ability. He starts to moonwalk while it’s raining fiery meteors on your enemies. Of course, you’re vulnerable during this attack, but damn are you looking good.

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If you play a mission with a specific warlock and just can’t finish the stage, you always have the choice to just change up your warlock. You do have to restart the current mission though. The missions are just waves of enemies. In most missions, after you’ve survived all waves, you either a merchant arrives, or a chest appears. These chests have especially mighty loot in them and the further you are in the game, the more difficult it is to get to them.

Speaking of loot, the game has plenty of it. Divided into four categories, helmets, armour, weapons, and footwear, it’s dropped by defeated enemies. Gear give you attribute bonuses, like more armour and damage, and some items are enchanted and grant additional bonuses, like life regen and life steal. As is it in most action RPGs, like Diablo, soon you’ll have a butt-load of gear, and most of it will be useless. The only use it has then is just to sell it.

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Each of the three available stages, the game has in its current state, have a distinct feel to them. The enemies you encounter change during a stage itself and they change vastly when you go to different areas of the game. But most of them are just black monsters; they do come in different types, though. You’ve got your slow walking brawler types, your charging dogs and your flying things. I especially liked the enemies in the swamp level. At the end of each area you fight a boss, and unlock a new warlock after you defeated them.

If you don’t want to save the world by yourself, just have a friend help you – or a stranger on the internet. The entire campaign of the game is playable in local and online coop. There isn’t really a lot to say about the Coop, it’s just a lot of fun with up to four friends. And if you don’t want to help your friends defeat the evil, you can also fight to defeat them. In the competitive multiplayer there are two different modes. The team deathmatch, in which you fight in teams with up to two players, and the crazier variant “Test your Luck”. At first glance it’s the same as the team deathmatch, except you spin a slot machine at the beginning, determining random buffs and debuffs for the players. In one match with a friend, she got damage and speeds boosts, whereas I was only able to use the basic attack, none of my other skills. This made the game, she had only been playing for a short while, incredibly enjoying for her. In another game we were both invisible, which made fighting a lot harder and resulted in us just rapid-fire our spells randomly.

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Warlocks vs. Shadows is an incredibly well made and enjoyable game. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into when I started playing, but the charming graphics and the well-designed heroes made me love this game. There are still some minor bugs in the game, but seeing as it’s an Early Access game, it’s forgivable. If you need an example for a game that does Early Access right, look no further.

Official Game Site

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