Shadowslayer: Dawn of the Lightforge Review – Interesting Blend of Action RPG and Base Builder

Shadowslayer: Dawn of the Lightforge is an interesting blend of action RPG and free-to-play base-builder. In a sense, it’s very much like Bastion — both mechanically and thematically.

You play a lone warrior who is battling through stages full of enemies, especially some black, demonic ones called the Corrupted. As you defeat monsters and explore stages, you’ll amass gold and materials that you can use to construct buildings. What begins as a tiny collection of buildings surrounding a protective obelisk soon blossoms into a small village that gets named “Haven”. As the village expands, its population will too. In return for supporting Haven with your time and resources, the people and buildings of Haven will support you by generating resources, assigning missions, and letting you craft gear.

Despite the plentiful similarities, Shadowslayer plays quite differently than Bastion. The base-building plays nearly identically to other free-to-play base-building games such as Clash of Clans and Wartune Mobile. Each building takes resources and real time to construct and upgrade. As you complete more buildings and missions, you’ll unlock more buildings and upgrades for your village. Each building serves its own purpose — homes increase your population and generate gold, resource buildings generate materials like wood and stone, and forges let you craft armor and weaponry. The protective obelisk keeps baddies out of your village and generates the Sunstones you need for safe passage into the wilderness. In other words — the Sunstones are essentially an energy bar that limit how often you can go out on adventure.

There’s the whole action RPG side too. You’ll get to create your own hero with a series of choices: name, gender, Warrior or Wizard, and several aesthetic choices like your face style and hair color. Warriors uses melee attacks while wizards use ranged attacks, but the gameplay is about the same. Instead of virtual controls, Shadowslayer uses tapping to move around the map and target enemies. Once an enemy is your target, you will automatically attack it until it perishes. After that, any remaining nearby enemies will be automatically targeted and attacked. It requires minimal effort on the player’s part, but you still ultimately remain in control of your character and you avoid situations where you don’t notice that an enemy died and your character is just standing still taking hits.

As a player, your main role in combat is to trigger special abilities. Heroes of both classes will learn new abilities as they level, with three available at any given time. Abilities can be offensive or defensive, and serve all kinds of different roles such as dishing out tons of damage to a single enemy, doing damage to a large group of enemies all at once, slowing down enemies, knocking enemies back, or putting up a protective shield. A special fourth ability is made available if a hero is wearing a matching collection of armor — a good motivation for replaying levels for loot or crafting specific armor pieces. Abilities can be fired off with a simple tap of their icon, and there is no limit to how often you use them other than their own cooldown.

Shadowslayer is a really great game for those of you looking for a good base-builder that offers a little more oomph. Earning your village’s resources through combat is more engaging than simply waiting for a timer to elapse. Also, Shadowslayer has quite a bit of story that is presented through dialogue between your hero and various characters that come to reside in Haven. The story is funny and offers a lot more narrative depth than you’ll find in most base-builders. The only problem I encountered with the game is that the game requires an online connection. There’s no multiplayer features (apart from social networking), so I’m sure this is in an effort to minimize cheating. It can get a little frustrating to have to wait for a reconnection after putting your phone to sleep or switching to another app, even briefly. If you do that while you’re out on an adventure, you’ll be returned to the village after reconnection. At least you keep the goodies and experience you had found so far when this occurs. The base building is pretty much what you’d expect out of the genre — it’s not terrible, but it’s not amazing either. That said, the action, RPG, and narrative elements augment the base-building so that Shadowslayer offers more content and more to do than most of its base-building competition.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in Shadowslayer: Dawn of the Lightforge for the action RPG elements, you’d be way better served by Bastion, Mage Gauntlet, or any of the numerous Diablo-style games on the App Store. The action in Shadowslayer is much better than you’ll find in most base-builders, but it’s pretty weak compared to games that are strictly action RPGs. Combat is largely automated and way too easy. Taking a beating? Run backwards for a bit until you lose the enemies that are tailing you and then just wait about a minute for your health bar to completely regenerate. The RPG system (stats, abilities, and gear) is pretty complex, but nowhere near as rewarding as what you’ll find elsewhere.


Shadowslayer: Dawn of the Lightforge is developed by Z2Live, best known as the publisher and developer of Battle Nations and Trade Nations. It was originally released in the Canadian App Store on October 06, 2013 when we featured it as a Today’s best App.

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