Indie Review: Shadow Tag
Shadow Tag is a horror escape game by Elvidian Entertainment that was made in 48 hours for the for the 'Cabin Jam' Game Jam. How does it measure up in this growing genre?
- Worth The Time?Yes, it's good to kill a couple of minutes with.
- Things LovedThe flawless and awesome graphics and art direction, the creepy children, the atmospheric and ambient sound, the concept of the game.
- Things HatedIt can get repetitive and tedious quickly and eventually lose its appeal, it's too restricted in terms of how you can win, gameplay feels a bit limited.
- RecommendationIf you've got a few minutes to kill and you enjoy horror, then you should absolutely give it a shot, but be wary of investing too much time into it.
- Name: Shadow Tag
- Genre: Horror
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Elvidian Entertainment
- Publisher: Elvidian Entertainment
- Price: Free
- Reviewed On: PC
You can play the game for free here.
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Shadow Tag is a simple little horror escape game by Elvidian Entertainment that was made in just 48 hours for the for the ‘Cabin Jam’ Game Jam. When you consider that it only made in two days, you’ll immediately be seriously impressed by the game’s visuals and audio work. The art direction is fluid and subtly haunting, the animation is great and the overall graphics are pretty much flawless. The sound does well to create ambiance and make you feel uneasy, and the cries of your enemies or the scream of your character if you get caught may just send a chill down your spine. Until you’ve heard them a large number of times that is. But as a visual and audio experience, Shadow Tag can hardly be faulted.
The idea of the game is that your character is trapped in a maze populated by scary, creepy possessed children who are after him. Armed with just a flashlight of limited power, you’ll need to find the objective items in the maze, such as a key or map, and then get to your car and escape before the demon kids get you. This is easier said than done, because if the kids will hunt you down and if they get too close they’ll charge, which basically guarantees your death. And you don’t want that, because as much as you see that death screen, it doesn’t get any less creepy to look at and experience.
While Shadow Tag is cool as a concept, it’s got a few problems that unfortunately bring it down as far as gameplay is concerned. Firstly, your character walks slowly, so if you get close to an enemy you are guaranteed to die with no way out. This also ties into the fact that you’ll often get cornered with no way out and you’ll have to sit and watch the kids slowly walk towards you until they get close enough for a killing charge. These aren’t the worst of issues and you can get over them fairly easily, but I felt the worse thing about the design is that it’s too restricted in terms of how you can win. In later levels, it almost feels like you need trial and error to figure out what the single workable route is and then mechanically take that one to win. You can’t really adapt or improvise, as it doesn’t seem to work. I tested it, and by following the exact same route three times I got the same outcome three times.
The game’s other major problem is that because it lacks variety and is quite rigid in its design, it can get quite tedious and repetitive fairly quickly. The danger in this is that the appeal of the game can be lost when by level six or seven you struggle to figure out the route to escape and get over the trial and error approach. It would have been nice to maybe have had a sprint function if enemies get close, as even this could have added an additional gameplay mechanic and made things more tense. As it is right now, the game is enjoyable to experience the first time and definitely is fun through the first few levels, but with the only change across levels being that they are bigger and there’s maybe one more item to collect before you can escape, you can’t help but feel that more could have been done. I know the game was made in just two days, and as I said above the developers simply nailed the visuals and audio, they’re practically perfect, but unfortunately the gameplay isn’t quite on the same level.
Shadow Tag shines as a visual and audio experience, and its essentially perfect in this area. As a game though, it’s a nice little distraction that can you kill a few minutes with, but sadly it gets repetitive quickly, lacks variety and feels a bit rigid in its design. Still, you should absolutely give this a shot if you want something different in the horror genre, but be wary of investing too much time into it.