After a fairly convincing release on PC last year, Shattered – Tale of the Forgotten King has landed on home consoles, more specifically on Switch, PS4 and PS5. The chance for us to tell you about this beautiful Souls-like experience that combines confrontation, Platform and even a semi-open world.
The title comes directly from the Lyon developers at Redlock Studio. Founded in 2015 by Maxime René (illustrator and Concept Artist), the studio, both located in Lyon and Grenoble, consists of a very small team. Their very first production, Shattered – Tale of the Forgotten King, is the result of a decade of imagination and writing, even though this Souls-esque Platformer was only shown to the public in 2016, during a Kickstarter campaign. In this regard, instead of the €80,000 requested, the studio has raised €110,670 for 1,929 donors. Three years after this presentation, the team’s project sees the light of day in early access (June 2019), it will remain there until its full release on PC, in 2021. So today the software is back but this time on home consoles.
The Ruined World of Hypnos
As you know, every time a Souls-esque game starts, the universes are often mysterious and the information is acquired piecemeal. So this is the case for this Shattered who delivers this data bit by bit, both when writing steles and through multiple NPCs.
In this dark, but also mature and poetic universe inspired by Souls, in the beginning was the king, he was the one who made the world, but today they are gone at the same time. Without ruining this adventure for you, know that we embody “The Traveller”, a character with amnesia and without much reference, he is looking for his name and memories.
As he travels through these desolate lands of Hypnos, he encounters strange creatures, including Y’aak, who explains to him that this world has been fragmented since the king’s disappearance. The Voyager must then defeat great and formidable opponents, seek the fragments of reality, but also discover why this civilization suffered the fall. A long epic then begins for him…
As we have just discussed, the discovery of Lore is essential to understand why and how this universe leaves an imprint of loneliness, poetry, but also its challenges and twists. So if you’re not familiar with this cryptic method, you risk missing out on a lot of stuff, although the NPCs are quite chatty contrary to the usual. While we take the time to thoroughly search the premises, to look for the same NPCs, we discover an interesting universe, which even makes us go through moments of reflection.
Accessible souls, platform and semi-open world
This epic is therefore lived in the ruined world of Hypnos, with of course all the facets of the Souls, be it endurance, confrontations and deaths, but also with the very interesting integration of platform stages, the two mixtures that form a good alliance, despite some minor inaccuracies.
If Hypnos simultaneously exudes a dark, deep and therefore poetic atmosphere, we nevertheless discover a contrast of life with “fields” of flowers, leafy trees, lush plains or even snow-capped mountains. All of these environments resemble a semi-open world revolving around Limbo, the game’s HUB.
From this you can buy consumables, access a smithy, or even increase the Traveler’s attributes with experience points (obtained in combat or through objects). These attributes are the equivalent of classic stat properties, and even if their names are different, there’s the ability to adventure his character’s PVs, his Ether (PM meter), etc. in complete peace of mind, especially since fatalities from falls not be penalized.
Finally, this HUB allows you to travel to other places in the universe, remember that the world is somewhat fragmented, which explains that this operation sometimes gives an effect of inconsistency. Each environment thus offers its share of sometimes labyrinthine, intricate exploration, but also more open with rewards in the key secret way to discover according to the paths, and by building a Level Design also on verticality.
This verticality is regularly encountered in stages of platforms, they range from simple jumps to avoid precipices, double jumps to reach a higher platform, to the dash and its combinations that give access to even more distant passages. If all this is done with a classic 3D rendering, we also have the good surprise of changing the camera angle reminiscent of old platform games, or even NieR Automata. Some paths therefore act as a three-quarter elevation view, or even in 2.5D side-scrolling. It’s refreshing for the genre, even if parts of battles in 2.5D can run into some general inaccuracies.
Speaking of the clashes, these take over the typical Souls formula. Aside from the classic movement in the form of walking, all actions consume some amount of stamina, be it punches, jumps, runs, dodges or even dashes, and magic. Facing enemies you can take your time, combine light attacks into combos or alternate them with powerful attacks. We also have the option to use variations of the above attacks with charges, dodges or even devastating counter attacks after reaching a perfect guard. To place these counters, of course, you have to perform your parry at the right time, which can be quite tricky at first given the animations that are a bit fluid, giving an effect of “jerky” movements, if we do it too early , we can’t help but get hit.
Against small enemies, instead of perfect guards or making counters, we prefer dodging and quick attacks, especially since the opponents kill themselves in just a few blows and don’t react very quickly. We would also have liked a slightly spicier feel, especially in terms of impact. Or even more style variety for fighting outside of magic, things you often see in Souls. On the other hand, the boss fights are more interesting, especially because of the variety of their patterns, and because they stand out more.
A pleasant DA despite some technical shortcomings
Now let’s move on to the technical and graphical part. For the first part, technically so, we can tell you that this Shattered still needs minor refinements in certain areas, the character animation effects as mentioned above, the loading times on PS5 longer than usual, a noteworthy point but that does not denigrate the experience , some collisions/visual bugs and finishes. For example, we think of the fact that all menus have a return function (via the Circle key), and Start which opens the global settings menu, except for one: the inventory. In this one, the return function doesn’t work, so you can only go through the global menu to get out. Or dialog boxes/tutorials that run across the screen and are therefore not displayed correctly.
Graphically, on the other hand, the developers’ bias allows for a pleasant and varied artistic direction according to the crossed environments, and a mixture of old-fashioned textures, in the sense that the polygons are less numerous. While the depictions of the characters during the discussions benefit from beautiful works of art. Musically, even if the different themes of the OST are sometimes discreet, the music fits the adventure well. Finally, note that the subtitles are clearly in French.
Tested on PS5
The first game from developers Redlock Studio, Shattered – Tale of the Forgotten King, is a unique experience. If it has some shortcomings (a few bugs, …) probably coming from the youth of the studio, nevertheless the software offers a very interesting and entertaining experience with a Souls “light” / Platformer mix. The Universe/Lore is more accessible than a regular Souls and also let go which makes you want to stay and learn more till the end. In short, if the few imperfections do not deter you, you will discover a wonderful first ambitious experience, performed by a team of enthusiasts.