Shadow of the Depth Early Access Impressions

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Shadow of the Depth Early Access Impressions

We checked out Shadow of Depth's Early Access. Find out if this latest Roguelite title is the right one for you.

If I were to describe Shadow of the Depth to you, I'd probably best cover it by calling it Hades meets Diablo. It's a top-down action RPG that has you venture through multiple randomly generated dungeons to slowly grind your way to the final boss.

If you're familiar with any Hades-like and its many detractors, the gameplay concept will feel very familiar. And while Shadow of the Depth has many great ideas, its Early Access period needs to put some meat on its bones.

*Early Access copy was provided by the Publisher*

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Image: ChillyRoom

Shadow of the Depth Early Access Impressions

I will have to admit that I don't click with roguelites. Something about slowly chipping away at increasingly harder challenges that are often dictated by RNG and stepping on the wrong tile at the wrong time never really clicked with me. But Shadow of the Depth luckily offers some fast-paced combat with enough tech to keep me interested.

The story so far is pretty light and while there's a cool intro cinematic and the art style of all the graphics looks sick (and a little too much like Hades for my taste) the game could easily do without it. Have these characters just start in the random dungeon and try and fight their way out.

Once you're in the dungeon, you're met with tight top-down corridors filled with traps, monsters, and treasures. The goal is simple, make it to the end of a floor and after you cleared a number of them you get to fight a boss and move on to the next set of floors.

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Image: ChillyRoom

You navigate the space topdown with a dodge, combos, and several abilities at your disposal. At first enemy waves will be small and manageable but Shadow of Depth loves to surround you with all kinds of enemies that have you glued to the screen to nail those dodges and blocks to save your valuable health.

The way the difficulty spikes in the first three floors alone is a nice ramp-up to the first actual boss that will kick your ass if you haven't mastered the game's basic systems yet. Melee attacks with different combos, iframe dodges, and abilities that feed off a very small MP meter.

As you venture through the dungeon, your main task is to collect money, upgrade materials, and better equipment in the hope of making it just a little bit further into the dungeon this time. That works most of the time but rooms and layouts seem very limited and games like this are in dire need of enough variation to keep things fresh.

Equipment is especially important since this is the main way you raise your stats and your special ability depends on whatever weapon you have equipped. But the random drops are really that, random. Sometimes you'll just get weapons that are worse than what you have currently equipped and going out of your way to find those can often feel like the game is trying to screw you.

Enemy variety is however pretty decent, most of them are fun to fight. Having groups of them hone in on you creates this beautiful, elaborate dance that has you weave in and out of combat while using all your abilities at all times. Attacking also regenerates your MP so you're encouraged to play aggressively.

I did however stumble into trap rooms fairly often and while the challenge in them is crisp, even on lower difficulties, they are more annoying than fun.

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Image: ChillyRoom

Shadow of Depth also features everyone's favorite progression system in this kind of game. Runes that adjust your abilities and stats you get to equip, permanent boosts to your abilities, and a level-up system that rewards more currency for upgrades and new characters.

And here's kinda my main grief with Shadow of Depth so far. Why are all the other characters locked behind progression? Seems kinda counterintuitive to lock some of the cooler-looking characters behind level requirements or in-game achievements (this one I kinda get though) when you're already to reliant on RNG from the start.

Just let me pick whoever I want to play after the tutorial. Because the hulking armor guy might look cool but I'd rather sling spells than shoot with a bow.

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Image: ChillyRoom

Wrapping up Shadow of the Depth

I don't know if and how I recommend Shadow of the Depth in its current state. Its base is solid and the combat has depth but I haven't found anything to sink my teeth in yet. If you're looking for some dungeon crawling fun, you can't go wrong with it but I'd recommend holding off on it until the promised coop mode makes its way into the game.

This sounds a little here and there because there is really nothing wrong with Shadow of the Depth but as of writing the game does very little to stand out within its niche. So if you're interested play the demo first and see how you're vibing with it before taking the plunge.

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Shadow of the Depth Early Access Impressions
Timo Reinecke
Has once claimed that FSH is the only job in FFXIV worth playing and stands by that firmly. Top Guy, Smart Guy, Educated Speaker. (sometimes) Writer of all things FFXIV, FGC, News, Reviews and More