I don't know, you wait ages for a role-
I don't really know how to describe Shadowlands, but I'll have a go. It's a sort of, err, umm, isometric Dungeon Master with a mere shade of Akira thrown in for good measure.
You are now probably wondering what the hell Akira, the cult Japanese cartoon/
Time for a story, I think. Are you sitting comfortably? The story follows an ancient legend. Drowned while fleeing enemy hordes who have invaded to find that your spirit is still very much alive and lusting for vengeance.
New supernatural powers give you the ability to control the minds of others. Hyou must guide them into the Shadowlands where they must search and find your natural remains and from there take them to the altar to be reunited with your spirit in an ancient ceremony.
Just like Dungeon Master and all its contenders, you start the game with four intrepid adventurers. Normally you have to choose your adventurers, but not in Shadowlands - here you have to make your own. Using an identikit system rather like the one in Midwinter 2, you get to design your brave lads.
If you remember, I mentioned Akira - well this is where the Japanese influence appears. All the graphics of your man's face, hair, mouth, etc. are very oriental and you can get qite a good likeness to the bloke who runs the chippy down the road.
Right, you've made up your men and you've given them names, now it's time to play the game. You start off in an orchard with loads of apple trees, so you can do your best Darling Buds of May impressions, pretend to pick this year's crop of apples and say "Perfick" a lot.
While you are wandering around you encounter pesky crows and also find some very important weapons. After a bit of apple-
The first part of level one is merely a little taste and enables you to get used to the controls, so that you can move around quickly and efficiently. Movement is entirely controlled by your little mouse. By now you should have seen our little box with an explanation of the control system - if you haven't seen it, read it right now, it's dead important.
If you're a bit daft in the head and you haven't seen the screenshots then you probably won't know why the game is called Shadowlands. It's called because it uses a Photo
Example one - when you light a torch in Shadowlands, you actually light up the area around you and you can see everything a lot more clearly.
Example two - when you open a door the light from the torch actually floods through into the next room, just as light does in the real world.
I know the word 'gimmick' comes screaming at you from out of the darkness, but it really does add atmosphere to the game and lends it a realistic feel. The actual game is plagued by all manner of evil beasties like skeletons, rats and even Jeremy Beadle (are you sure? - Ed). Some of the beasties are harder than others, and some so-called "beasties" are actually scantily-
Also contained in the dungeons are loads of fiendish puzzles. Sometimes the dungeon will help you with them by leaving a plaque for you to read, other times it won't. These puzzles will give you sleepless nights and a severe case of brain-
For all you would-be wizards, there are also spells for you tp play around with, but be careful - you wouldn't want to command a bunch of frogs around the dungeon!
I have been reliably informed the dungeon bit lasts for 14 levels. Then your progress further to the pyramid and maze levels, so it definitely isn't one of those "I completed it in ten minutes" jobs.
Shadowlands is one of those games which will keep you entertained for hours on end. You know the type - you start playing in January and before you realise it, it's April.
Engrossed? I certainly was. I almost forgot about writing the review. And even now while I'm writing this, Darren, our resident adventuring expert, is deeply engrossed in it - at the moment he's turning the air blue.
In fact, hold on for a minute.
"Oi! Get off that Amiga!"
"Come 'ere you, take that!"
Ho ho! That'll teach the bugger.
Overall, Shadowlands is the game all adventurers have been looking for. It has great graphics which, coupled with the Photoscaping system, gives a unique atmosphere, almost a feeling of actually being there.
On the sound front there are suitable FX featuring grunts, screams, thuds, clanking, clanging and even a ding ding ding sound. And it's got a lovely intro tune.
Playability? Do I even have to tell you about this? (Yes, you bloody well do - Ed). OK, it's certainly one of the most playable games I've ever attempted. It even beats Dungeon Master, mainly because it's a lot more interactive.
The control system becomes second nature after just a few goes. You don't particularly have to read the manual, you can just boot it up and play it straight away - it's that playable.
It's time for a bit of a sum up, methinks - 2 + 2 = 4, and Shadowlands = bloody ace adventuring role