You’re Their Only Hope
The world of Harmonia isn’t harmonious anymore, and as a Shadow Knight, it’s up to you to make it right. You’ll jump, climb, and run through dark, gothic worlds full of creatures of the night and the epic monsters that control them. With a satisfying combination of hack & slash combat and RPG elements, Fansipan Limited brings you Shadow Knight: Deathly Adventure.
On the surface, that sounds great. And for the first few moments of playing, I thoroughly enjoyed what it was offering. When I pulled back the curtain, and saw the Wizard for what he was, Shadow Knight: Deathly Adventure became yet another gacha RPG in the sea of predatory mobile games.
Dishing Out Death in Style
What immediately struck a chord in me was the art style. The developers did an excellent job at creating an environment that’s dark and gritty, while giving it splashes of bright colors to break it up—especially with the heroes you control. At no point did I lose my character in the background. And that’s important, considering how fast and crazy combat can get.
The first moments are spent with Noah and Ashley, both of whom are Shadow Knights and a complete mystery aside from a few lines of clunky dialogue. It’s on you to pick who your preferred Shadow Knight is, but is otherwise meaningless since you can switch on the fly. Regardless, destroying demons is an absolute joy in Shadow Knight: Deathly Adventure. Noah’s hilariously gigantic sword feels good. Every attack that lands is heavy, devastating, and surprisingly quick. Ashley is fast and nimble, picking off creatures from a distance with dual-wielding pistols.
What I enjoyed most was the fluidity of each hero’s abilities, the flashy nature of every skill. It has an almost arcade-like style. Some skills can link together for a combo, such as using a basic attack during Noah’s dash, or knocking enemies into the air with Uppercut and juggling them. On the ground, Ashley’s Dashing Shot would shoot in the direction you’re facing, but in mid-air it rains bullets of light onto demonic noggins.
Soup For The Soul
Shadow Knight doesn’t stick to just basic attacks. As you level, new skills can be purchased with gold, and improved further at various stages of progression. Each hero has four abilities, in addition to a passive skill. Noah, for example, gains attack speed for every combo; Ashley gains bonus attack damage.
Each skill can then gain one of two bonus effects, which you can choose. Ashley’s Rising Shot, for example, can either pierce through enemies or Rising Shot can perform critical hits. And if you don’t like your choices, you can reset them.
Every hero’s “soul” can be improved such as physical and magical combat power, health, armor, and magic resistance. You get a natural boost to said stats when you gain a level. When you aren’t playing, however, you can place one character on any completed mission—that you achieved three stars on—to accumulate souls.
Can We Monetize This? Yep.
After the tutorial is over, Shadow Knight: Deathly Adventure reveals its true colors: a festering pile of microtransactions. Nearly every aspect has been monetized. And the game doesn’t have a problem with shoving “starter packs” and “resource packs” in your face for ridiculous prices. It appears to be a trend with Fansipan Limited, considering their other title, Summoners Era, is also heavily monetized.
Problems arise mere moments from starting the first story mission: an energy system. It’s common for freemium games to use an energy system. In order to play the game, you hand over a portion of your very limited supply of energy. If you run out? Well, you can’t play, unless you want to hand over cash for more.
It continues with the game’s RPG elements, specifically with gear. To make meaningful improvements to your character, you can fit them with gear. Equipment doesn’t change the way you look; it’s simply a stat-stick, which is a huge misstep in an ARPG. More importantly, gear is acquired primarily through loot boxes. Story missions can net you a piece here and there, but you can’t rely on it. Because who wants to be rewarded for playing well, right?
To make matters worse, at level 10 you can dive into PVP, where the victor is the one with the deepest pockets. It’s very telling where the developers heads are at when one achievement reads “Open gacha 1 times,” referring to the act of opening a loot box. That isn’t cute, nor is it funny. I’m only slightly surprised that skills and souls weren’t monetized.
A Moment of Silence
I could play Shadow Knight: Deathly Adventure for hours. It’s fast, the animations are punchy and have weight behind them, and I really dig the art style. It’s a hard style to sell that the game nails. I want nothing more than to scream this game from the rooftops.
Had Fansipan Limited stripped the energy system, loot boxes, and charged for the game instead, I would immediately recommend it. I’d even buy the additional heroes and cosmetic skins. But alas, the dozens of hours you have to put in to get anywhere in the game is a hill I’m not willing to die on.
Is it Hardcore?
Shadow Knight: Deathly Adventure could have been so much more. Its art style is stylized and the combat is addicting. That’s simply not enough to deal with its overly monetized nature.