Developer / Publisher – Vitruvius VR
Price – US $24.99 / EU €24.99 / UK £19.99
Release Date – March 7th, 2019
Input – Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Standing, Room Scale
Store – Steam
Reviewed on – Oculus Rift
Shadow Legend is an action-RPG that places you in the roll of The Grand Master, The holiest of holy knights in service to Evelyn, the goddess who brought light and life to the World of Anaria. The opposing god, Aderoth, wishes to bathe the world back into darkness and it’s up to you to venture to his realm and stop him once and for all, vanquishing his forces and along the way performing all manor of classic RPG tropes, but in full VR awesomeness.
Armed with your Motion controllers, you can walk around using the thumbsticks with a bunch of settings available allowing for full locomotion or any other of the typical comfort options. You can grab a ton of stuff lying around and while some items are just for decoration, others can be interacted with further for some very appreciated immersion. See a broken sword in a smith shop? Heat it up, grab a hammer, head to the anvil and straighten that bad boy out. What about that dog that keeps following you around? Why not give him a piece of cheese or play fetch with him? You can do that! The level of immersion throughout the game is stunning and throughout my play I couldn’t help but marvel at just how much care has went into placing you in this world. Melee combat puts you in toe-to-toe action with a few different foes and thanks to the physics at play, enemies react to your offensive and defensive tactics. Blocking their attacks with your own weapons may leave them open for an attack, while trying to sneak in a blocked blow might yield a counter from the enemy and a subsequent hit. Ranged weapons are also available be it a bow and arrow, magical staves and even a blunderbuss, allowing you to dispatch foes who may be well out of your range. Each stage is its own confined space and cannot be revisited but contains combat and puzzle elements that should take you in the 4-hour range to conquer.
Shadow Legend most definitely borrows from traditional and stock fantasy elements making everything in here feel very familiar. The stages are all gothic and medieval themed and carry a large amount of detail. The texture and model details aren’t going to blow anyone’s minds, though there are some standout moments. What is impressive is just how authentic each of these areas feel. Every stage in this game can be explored, which I encourage, with treasure and runes hidden throughout the game. You’ll visit a courtyard, crypt, cemetery and few other locales that all bear a very different look from the others, keeping things feeling very fresh. You will encounter ghouls, skeletons, demonic imps and 1 or 2 others as well 2 large boss battles with some of the enemies looking way better then others, though minus the imps, they all do their job. Some of the set pieces are quite massive and no matter what stage you are in, you’ll be lost in the world presented.
All the characters are voice acted and thanks to Windows voice recognition software, you can actually speak the lines given to you when you interact with the NPC’s or, should you choose, you can just grab the words you want to progress the conversation. It’s very rewarding to say the words aloud and have the person talking to you respond in-kind. Otherwise the music the accompanies you on your journey is fantastical and Gothic, fitting the action nicely.
You can climb ladders and ropes in search of loot and even purchase goods from a godly trader. One stage involves some platforming (though you can’t jump) and another involves using pick axes to climb out of an ice laden pit. Each of the stages has a select number of runes to find and I recommend seeking them all out. Not only are they needed to wield some of the weapons you can buy in the game but acquiring them will extend the game time. Once you leave a level, you can’t come back so its in your best interest to find them all. Some are hidden around the stage, others may require you to perform certain actions for them to pop out or solve riddles to reveal them. Every stage has its own unique obstacles with many requiring keys to open doors or chests. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention during my playtime, but I had often accrued quest related items without realizing so if you ever get stumped, check your inventory, you may already have what you are looking for. At any time you can open up your menu, a large book, which lists your main quest objectives as well as the optional ones, current rune count and how many runes you have found in each stage. Once you find all the runes, a powerful voice states so and tells you to move on. There is also an upgrade system where you can spend the souls of your foes on better health or more melee or projectile damage so its in your best interest to not let a single monster live.
Shadow Legend, for all it’s awesomeness takes some very odd missteps. For starters, while each stage is its own monster, the game ends, in my opinion, very abruptly. You face only one other boss before you get to Aderoth and instead of outright battling the guy, the last battle simply requires you to deflect his projectiles back at him in faster and faster waves, which just felt silly for an final encounter. Every new game mechanic almost never repeats itself, which is commendable, but I would have loved to spend more time in here battling the demonic hellspawn and just messing around, even if those game mechanics repeatedly showed up. Whether it’s just exploring the stages in search of secrets, mixing a potion, cooking a steak, firing a ballista or whatever, I want more! There is a barter system in place to get the best price on your trades, but it seems a little pointless given just how much loot is lying around (it’s a lot!!!) and how infrequently the vendor shows up. I didn’t refer to my quest guide until late in my game and enjoyed just messing around and trying to figure out all the ways the game worked. The combat, once I figured it out, was satisfying and when I stumbled across the vendor guy, I was happy to nab a new weapon and give it a go. Had I known just how short the game is, I would have spent a lot more time on my 1st go solving every puzzle and finding every rune and even after completing the game, I’m planning on diving back in for another go around just so I can relish in what the 2-man team at Vitruvius VR gave us.
Shadow Legend is by no means perfect, and while the overall game is relatively small and contained, it still impressed the heck out of me. It’s not open world like Skyrim, nor is it trying to be. What it is a relatively short campaign in a fully realized fantasy world that gave me so many ‘oh, wow!’ moments, I lost count. Shadow Legend raises the bar with what we should expecting out of interactivity in VR games and while I may have been a little let down by the game’s conclusion, the overall package still delivers in spades…just make sure you take your time and enjoy each level!
What would I pay? For what Shadow Legend brings to the table I’m more then okay with the $25 asking price. It’s not going swallow up your gaming life but offers up a level of immersion that many VR games lack. The added mini quests and freedom to mess around will extend game time a bit but when it’s all said and done this is a quick romp in VR that aims for quality over quantity and delivers a very fun game!
Vitruvius VR provided The VR Grid with a press code for this review and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!