Shadowbug

I’m reviewing the Steam version of this game, but it is also available on iOS and Android.

Ever wanted to be a Ninja Bug taking on the world?

A tiny insect is watching his forest decay and be destroyed as it is invaded by machines and flooded with pollution. Setting out on an epic journey, he must discover the source and defeat these giant enemies. It’s actually quite a moving tale when you think of it – especially when the environment is such a hot topic right now. It’s also a great setting, with the juxtaposition between the light and airy forest and the machines that invade it. We journey through the forest, down the sewers and into the factory to find the source.  

Pros:

  • Beautiful artwork.
  • Fluid movement and keyboard/mouse controls.
  • Unique gameplay.
  • Excellent level design with formulated progression.
  • Good range of enemies with different abilities.

Cons:

  • Fairly short game, completable in 3-4 hours (or hypothetically under 30 minutes for a full speedrun if you’re God-tier)
  • Limited replayability (once you have all stars per level, there’s nothing else to do).
  • Not good for controllers, ups the difficulty level by 6 billion.
  • The final two levels are extremely difficult compared to the rest of the game.

Tight Gameplay

The gameplay took me a little getting used to but is very unique. It’s a platformer that has no jumping ability (and trust me, I instinct-spammed space a LOT in the beginning, it won’t help). Instead, your ninja bug can zip from enemy to enemy, moving and killing them in one stroke. You can walk back and forth using A and D, but the majority of the movement is made by targetting an enemy. You can then move in any direction at great speed, and control the direction of your descent. You end up bouncing from enemy to enemy in fluid, smooth motions.

Precision and Speed

It’s both a precision and a speed game. You have to be exact or you’re going to be devoured by creepy creatures, impaled on thorns, sliced by spinning blades or trampled by machinery. At the end of each level you have a score. One star for completing it successfully, two for completing it under an allotted time, and three for collecting enough power ups. Sometimes it’s simply not possible to both speed run and power run so it adds that extra challenge and replayability, with some levels having secrets to be found. A speedrunner will enjoy the challenge immensely.

Level Design

There is a decent range of enemies, many of whom have unique abilities, such as plants that spit venom at you, or the birds who pick up spiked seeds and drop them in inconvenient places, such as on your head. As the levels progress, minor new mechanics are added that give a little bit of extra depth and complexity each time. From swinging spikes and levers, to keys and unlockable doors, to moveable boxes to… well, I’ll let you discover for the rest. You’re drip-fed the changes so as each new things is introduced you have time to naturally learn how to respond until you’re dealing with everything at once like a pro. Well, that’s the idea anyway. My execution was a little bit off to say the least (400th death inc…)

Challenge

On a difficulty level I found the game fairly easy until the final two levels. Although I did die a LOT, the game has short levels and very frequent checkpoints, meaning it’s easy to have a stab at the same section multiple times very quickly until you get the hang of it. I’d say it’s challenging enough to keep you interested, tax your fingers and get those brain cells whirring… until you get to the last two levels. The difficulty ramps up to insane and I did find the final two levels frustratingly challenging. It took me 2 hours to complete levels 1 through 34 and then 2 hours to complete levels 35 and 36 – levels that should be able to be speedrun in a few MINUTES apparently. Well then, screw lasers, seriously.

At £4 for a 3-4 hour game, some may feel the sense of value is lacking. Personally I’m still happy to highly recommend it – quality over quantity!

Athravan

I'm Athravan! 34 year old lady from Wales who loves writing and sharing her opinion. I'm not big or famous and I'm not sure I'm even good at this, but I'd like to think I'm fair, honest and hopefully a little bit fun too.

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