This is Shardlight. Amy comes from a country that has been ravaged by nuclear war. In the typical post-apocalyptic sense… the world is devoid of resources and riddled with disease. The lines between the rich and the poor have been drastically drawn. The Aristocracy controls everything that happens in the country, and that’s a bad thing for people that have contracted a disease named, “Green Lung.”
The poor people in the city have to do odd jobs from the aristocracy to obtain a lottery ticket that can give them a chance to win the Green Lung vaccine. This is where the story begins, with Amy on a job to fix a reactor where she finds a crushed citizen with a request that changes her life. Amy needs the vaccine or she’ll die, so the Aristocracy leader, Tiberius, gives her a job to find the mysterious Danton in-exchange for tons of vaccine and a permanent job of her choice.
Danton discovers that Amy is a spy for the Aristocracy but not of her own volition. They give her a chance to prove herself while making the same promises of unlimited vaccine. Amy has to choose between helping the people or the aristocracy with her life hanging in the balance as a double agent. The main plot is fairly straight forward from that point on, but it’s the moments in between that make Shardlight appealing.
It’s the understanding of how people cope with a world without abundant resources and death at every corner. How a farmer copes with not having enough food to provide to his animals. Where the Aristocracy come down from high above to request items that the impoverished need to survive. This is place where there is a religion with the idea that you must accept death so that the Reaper can come and take you away from here.
Shardlight is a fairly dark game with a grim depiction of a fallen society. Bodies are strewn about various places in the game. People seem to kill each other for both survival and subjugation of others. There are light-hearted moments in the game, but for the most part… Shardlight makes sure to let us know that everything in its world is quite grim.
Shardlight like most Wadjet Eye games features pixelated characters with detailed backdrops to accompany them. It works well to understand the dire straits of a bombed out country with a ravaged landscapes. The items aren’t simply strewn about by the art team. There are key details like a plane that crashed into a church during “The Blast.” To the many people that pile through the streets perusing and carrying items in the Market District. It creates a sense a life to adventure titles that are normally often still in nature.
The voice acting is well done for the most part, there are some moments of bad acting but that’s few and far between. There are some grating moments though… like the fruit seller Marischka and the directory machine in the Sciences building. The music on the other hand is something I can’t even remember now that I think about it. So it’s nigh forgettable even though there isn’t a slider to turn it down individually from the voice acting.
Gameplay is your standard fair point and click madness. There will be plenty of times where you’ll be scrolling over pixel after pixel trying to find an item you may have missed. However, the puzzles are logical and keep the pace of the game moving steadily. The only problem I had was the need to backtrack to areas randomly for the next event of an area to begin. At one point you’ll be at a farm trying to figure out what to do, and then realize that you had to go back to the market to trigger new conversations before receiving the item you needed.
Chalkboard which is fairly simple to figure out albeit annoying. Don’t be like me and leave the Chalkboard without reading between the lines though. It took me a good 30 minutes to figure out that you have to read the words from right to left in order to get inside the next area. I just saved you a bunch of time, you’re welcome.
From there the game seemed to fly along at a rapid pace and I had a fairly good time understanding speaking to and solving puzzles. Shardlight is a story that re-tells the cliché of the poor versus the evil regime, but it’s full of intriguing characters and enough twists that you can get over the tropes. It doesn’t break the mold when it comes to the adventure game genre, but if you’re a fan of combining items, and clicking on random stuff to find items… you’ll find no problems here.
Shardlight is a fun game that’s definitely for Adventure title enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a truly special storyline though… you might want to wait for a sale on this one. For all other adventure seekers such as myself, this game does a fair job of providing a believable albeit clichéd experience.