I’m a sucker for soulslike games. That’s why, when I had the opportunity to review Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King, I was excited to give this visually striking game a try. While Shattered certainly looks like a piece of art, it’s a game that leaves me with mixed feelings—and I can’t help but think of what could have been.
Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King is a third person action role-playing game in the vein of Dark Souls. In it, you play as a nameless wanderer who comes across a strange, dream-like land. It shifts between third person 3D to 2.5D occasionally, and it has a good number of platforming sections thrown in. Thankfully, falling isn’t instant death—but instead drains a bit of health. While Shattered certainly looks gorgeous, it suffers from a severe lack of polish, even a month after its release.
I really appreciate it when games attempt to change the soulslike formula up. Shattered shakes things up a little bit, but mainly sticks to its inspiration. Combat is stamina-based, there are heavy and light attacks, killing enemies yields a currency you spend on upgrading your character, and is lost upon death, etc. There are some platforming elements added, but they serve only to gum up exploration. And with a semi-open world, exploration needs to feel like something that is fun, not something that is a chore. The same goes for combat, and sadly, combat in Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King is bad.
I wish I could sit here and extol the virtues of Shattered’s amazing combat, but it’s just not there. There’s the normal soulslike consideration of stamina and dodging. Backstabbing is possible, as well as parrying. Backstabs are effective, but ugly—it seems as though the action and the animation rarely match up. Parrying is encouraged by the game, but it’s a messy, inaccurate feeling endeavor. There are different weapons to find, but they’re few and scattered about. I wish there was a way to choose a weapon type to start the game, not that any of the other weapons yielded better results.
Combat would be more interesting if there were interesting enemies to fight. Unfortunately, most of the enemy types in Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King seem to repeat throughout the game with little variation. The bosses suffer from lack of variation, too, with most boss fights being of the “large guy with a sword” variety.
Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King’s world just begs to be explored. The ability to jump and mid-air dash gives you access to areas that you feel like you shouldn’t be in. There were so many times I had the anticipatory thrill of an impending secret, only for this newfound nook to turn out to be a dead end. It’s a shame there just isn’t more to find, and the freedom of exploration only makes that more apparent.
There was obviously a lot of thought and effort put into the world of Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King. The music fits well, and the art style is great. Shattered is beautiful to behold, but that’s only skin deep, so to speak. And while the game’s world seems rich with detail, the story isn’t told in an easily digestible way. Instead, you’re inundated with walls of text. Unlike Dark Souls that lets you piece together the story with little information, Shattered dumps cryptic walls of dialogue that you have to decipher. It’s not nearly as compelling as From Software’s method, and makes me feel like I’m stuck without context for all of this lore I’m being given.
Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King is a game that has so many pieces in place: art, lore, even the music is spot-on. It’s a shame that it doesn’t click on a mechanical level. It just isn’t fun to play. There’s no satisfactory combat. Movement feels floaty, and makes the jumping puzzles feel imprecise. Parrying is a chore, and not a technique that is aching to be mastered. While it certainly has some good ideas, it really suffers from a lack of polish. I really wanted to like Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King, but it turns out to be one of the worst soulslikes I’ve ever played—and that isn’t something I say lightly.
Shattered—Tale of the Forgotten King is available on Steam.
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