Steam Next Fest is in full swing, and we’ve taken a look at a few games from the festival. Today we’re delving into 9 Years of Shadows, an absolutely stunning Pixel Art Metroidvania set in a world that literally lost its color, and you must fight to bring it back into the world. The game is slated to release later this year. Let’s take a look!
A World of Black and White
We start we a prologue that explains the events up until this point. 9 years before the game starts proper, the world is cast into shadows, with the color of the world going away. Most people either succumb to madness or, as is the case with our protagonist’s parents, outright die.
Nine years later, the player character, Europa, ventures into the cursed castle in order to stop the curse and banish the shadows that plague her world. After you explore the castle, you come across a big monster that… pretty much beats you up and leaves you for dead.
Things seem to be lost, until a ghostly companion shows up… in the form of a teddy bear. This is Apino, who brings the color back into your life and will act as your literal lifeforce (see next section). After he heals you, you start exploring the castle some more, slaying monsters and meeting some more characters.
The characters you encounter have a strong musical theme about them, being singers or part of the band. The composers of the games are actual NPCs, which will grant you upgrades in exchange for musical notes. The game allows for a bit more exploration afterwards, until you fight a boss with a big hammer and the demo ends.
A Treat for Your Eyes and Ears
The game absolutely nails its presentation. The very beginning of the demo is all black and white, until you find Apino, at which point it goes full color. The colors are very vibrant and the artwork is detailed and gorgeous. We kind of wish there were more B&W sequences afterwards, since it’s quite a unique style that’s not often utilized.
The music in the game is great, which is fitting, since the theme is present in the NPCs and power-ups. The score is composed by Michiru Yamane, who worked on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the GBA games, and Norihiko Hibino, who composed for the Metal Gear Solid and Bayonetta series. Needless to say, the OST is gonna be a banger!
The Teddy Bear Protects You… And Shoots Lasers!
So far, the game has been a fairly standard Igavania fair (those are games similar to Symphony of the Night). Your main weapon is a halberd, and you have a 3-combo quick attack, a heavy attack, and a charged attack. There’s also some elemental power-ups you’ll find in the game, with the demo including the electric one.
What the game uniquely brings to the table is Apino, who acts as both your shield and your long-range attack. Europa has only two lives when starting the game, but has a large shield bar that can be depleted to fire projectiles. You regain it by hitting enemies with your weapon or, if it’s fully consumed, by hugging Apino. Aww!
The enemy variety is pretty good, with a nice mix of sizes and melee vs ranged attacks. Some even have elemental weaknesses, so you’ll be able to change your element for extra damage. Currently, this seems to be differentiated through a colored outline, though hopefully more effects are added to make them clearer and help color-blind players.
That’s Not Quite Right…
Unfortunately, the demo has a few technical issues. It crashed when I tried to run it the first time, the map marker doesn’t seem to work properly, and at one point the Pause menu couldn’t be brought back up. At the end of the demo, while I was able to bring the pause menu up, it became completely unresponsive afterwards, forcing me to close the game the hard way.
Hopefully these bugs are sorted out by the time the game comes out. Despite the issues mentioned above, we had an absolute blast with 9 Years of Shadows, and are looking forward to the full release later this year.
What do you think of 9 Years of Shadows? What games have you been playing during Next Fest? Let us know down below!
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