Shattered preview - Tale of the Forgotten King and the crypticity dilemma

Redlock is likely to take the longest step of the leg


Redlock Studio's promising French development team is working on Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King, a action rpg passed quite muted e deeply inspired by Dark Souls. This ambitious project catapults the protagonist into a dreamlike world between fantasy and the futuristic, in which Limbo wakes up with no memory of his past or his identity. Accompanying and guiding him is a small skeleton that travels hanging on his back. Following his words, the protagonist sets out on a journey in search of King Hypnos and for answers. For the rest, the plot remains deliberately mysterious, the narration is silent and delicate, so much so that it seems approximate at times.


What he will encounter on his travels is a bizarre world that, although in some respects it may recall a typical fantasy setting, it brings out a futuristic architecture. The structures and creatures are represented through the cell shading technique and thus acquire a very particular charm. The elements taken into consideration within Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King touch very disparate aspects, from spiritual beings to machines, from fantasy sidearms to futuristic rifles, from mountains composed of blocks to structures animated by mysterious neon. Colors tend to always take on cold shades and for this reason blue and gray predominate. This technique manages to create an incredibly fascinating setting, very original for this era and attributable only to the sensations that, years and years ago, Legacy of Kain transmitted. Somehow the latter also inspired the design of the protagonist, a mysterious being with bright eyes. The excellent graphics sector is supported by a sound one of equal value. The music, although it is only a frame of the work, manages to greatly intensify the sense of immersion. The sensations transmitted have genuinely involved me; standing still and admiring the world around me awakened shivers between nostalgia and pure art. Of course, some patterns can sometimes be perceived a little too repeated, but this does not weigh on the general experience.


However, the problems of Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King begin to emerge if you take the game mechanics into consideration. The animations of the characters are woody and artificial; this element does not always clash as some are mechanical creatures, but the same cannot be said for humanoids. This unfortunately also affects the basic combat dynamics: the swordplay looks inspired as ideas, but jammed in the realization. There is often the feeling that the protagonist "gets stuck", remaining foolishly exposed to the blows of the enemies, especially since the blows of the protagonist will always damage only one of them, even in melees with many opponents. For their part, the latter sometimes have serious problems in their movements: it happens too often that the animation is simply wrong, that they strike when in fact they seem stationary or that, on the contrary, they strike blows that do not cause any consequences; as if that weren't enough, their tracking is exaggerated to say the least, making it almost impossible to dodge by going behind them. The attacks (like the other commands) refer to those of Dark Souls and, except for a brief introduction, are not in-depth; for such an expert this is not a problem, but for a novice to soulslike it could be confusing. The tutorial is represented by some swarms of lights that explain the basic commands, but they do it in a very synthetic way and do not always work.

To learn more:
The legacy of Dark Souls

In general, Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King alternates action and combat phases with puzzle solving phases (interesting and dynamic, they manage to involve the surrounding environment), boss fight (sometimes optional, but whose qualities and difficulties far exceed those of minor fights) and exploration phases (simple but enhanced by the beauty of the world). Unfortunately, the latter is penalized by some elements that can certainly be revised. The worst is probably the jump: this action is annoying during landing, as the character "slips" and frustrates certain sections of platforming, especially those with mobile platforms. Added to this is the fact that the dynamic shadow of the protagonist does not allow to give indications on his landing position. As unrealistic as it was, a static shadow at his feet would have been far preferable, especially in the 2.5D platforming stages. In these circumstances the camera freezes and the view is lateral, making some jumps of real hazards. In other cases, however, the jump "breaks" the level design, allowing you to overcome some barriers with the minimum effort and thus making it possible to reach some play areas in advance. Its use wanted to be aimed at a free and engaging exploration, and usually it succeeds; but in fact it is really too abusable. The developers tried to patch it up by placing various invisible walls, but sometimes they were done inaccurately, only generating frustration.

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Galeotta fu: the "Soulslike" label

Also Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King, unlike Dark Souls, it's single player only and it does not offer an online mode of any kind but, despite this, during the break the game world does not freeze and the enemies, eventually, attack the protagonist. The development of the latter takes place through the Essences collected from the defeated enemies, usable at a particular rune in the central hub. The level up system is quite simple, but rewarding. The customization allows different approaches, from the classic melee fight to the use of spells from a distance. The number that represents how many they have, however, is displayed in an inexplicable position in the center of the screen, which is not a little annoying. In case you are defeated by an enemy, the unused Essences will be kept by the latter and you will have to try to defeat him to get them back. This mechanic seems effective, but it turns out to be partly inadequate as the Essences are also the resource to be consumed to heal; it follows that, by repeatedly trying a boss fight (and dying at this juncture), from the second attempt you will no longer be able to heal. And, like any good soulslike, within the game maps there are checkpoints where you restart after a death. The problem arises when, at times, the respawn occurs inexplicably by one of them that does not correspond to the last one visited. In this case, although the maps are well interconnected, the frustration of having to repeat a useless journey will be palpable.


And this unfortunately is certainly not the only bug in Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King. At the present stage of development, the programming defects are still many and not at all marginal. First of all, even if you select the English language, many parts will remain in French, the original language of the title (as well as the only alternative). And even where the translation is present, it often shows serious translation defects or deficiencies. Some loading screens have strange acronyms: hard to tell if they are part of the cryptic lore or if they are just errors. The menus themselves are uncertain: in a very short time they have changed the various items (previously they had a more cryptic nomenclature), but they continue to present an annoying overlapping problem if more than one is opened. In the character sheet there is a section dedicated to the codex, but even if you find the elements in the game world, it will only show blank screens. Some dialog boxes (or tutorial tips) don't open or when they do they don't want to close anymore. In some cases, following a death, the Essences possessed before it are restored, inexplicably giving back those expenses for the immediately preceding level passes, but leaving the level unchanged. The collisions are to be reviewed: sometimes they are absent, leading to undeserved deaths, others instead cause a loss of control of the camera and, in the same way, a probable and premature death. The portals that are supposed to connect the play areas don't always work and, instead of teleporting the protagonist to their destination, they sometimes hurl them into a gloomy cosmic void, as if some areas have yet to be implemented; other times they block the game on an eternal loading screen. During the fighting you can center the view on the enemies killed for a substantial period of time after death, so as to make it difficult to manage the opponents who are still alive.


Ma one story in particular influenced my journey into this fascinating world. A set of facts that made me forcibly desist from continuing (at least for the time being) Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King. Not finding a way to overcome an area, I decide to go back to the previous one to check that I have not forgotten anything. As I do so, I realize that all the enemies there were watching me impassively, in a catatonic state of immovable sloth. Without having found anything (and a little unsettled by the surreal situation), I decide to go back to the last play area. And here begins the delirium. As soon as I enter, I notice that the protagonist's jumping ability has increased tenfold and what were previously game design obstacles now represented nothing but ridiculous attempts to block his monstrous elevation. I decide to continue thinking, probably stunned by the large number of bugs encountered, that perhaps it was an unlocked skill without realizing it. Wall jumping, stair jumping, building jumping, street jumping ... I probably jump entire levels and find myself casually entering the arena of a boss obviously too advanced to be within my reach. After a quick death, I am reborn at the last checkpoint, but now the situation was at a point of no return. The protagonist lay almost horizontal, motionless, perhaps paralyzed by the towering figure of the aforementioned boss, now impassive behind him, as in the most classic cartoon skits. So I decide to restart Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King and I understand what trouble I got myself into: the fearsome opponent has disappeared, the protagonist has regained the ability to walk in an upright position and no longer even has the infamous increased jump. In this way I find myself stuck in a decidedly hostile area, lost and at the mercy of forces superior to me. With no little effort I manage to return to a slightly less lethal area and here I find a teleport for a boss within my reach… Is the situation back to normal? I try to face it, study it and ... I have the best! But the newfound enthusiasm does not last long: I head towards the exit portal but, after several attempts, I realize that this now causes a crash of the game. I reload the game one last time and watch my hero wandering desolate in a small arena immersed in the deepest darkness. Credits.


In light of all this, one would think that Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King is a total failure, a hole in the water and in the balance sheet of an inexperienced company that wanted to dare too much. But is not so. The Redlock Studio team did some confusion about the development status of the project, then trying to patch it and label it as early access. Probably, however, it would have had more dignity to offer only a free demo and to offer the possibility of pre-ordering the full game as much as possible. When it is really complete. Flying over all this, beyond the dense forest of bugs you can see a project that is really well underway and very inspired. Probably one of the soulslikes of greater quality and perspective. At the moment it still needs a lot, a lot of work… But the developers are showing that they are dedicated to it full time and are making frequent improvements. Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King definitely needs to be watched very carefully.

Comment Redlock Studio is working on Shattered - Tale of the Forgotten King, an ambitious project heavily inspired by the Dark Souls series. In this action rpg the player plays the role of a being who loses his memory and wakes up in Limbo, the first area of ​​a wonderful world between fantasy and futuristic. This futuristic setting exudes desolation but never ceases to arouse curiosity. The wonderful music enhances even more an already very inspired graphic sector. The cartoon characters recall spiritual beings, but sometimes they also wink at the world of machines. In this it seems not to hide even a good inspiration from Legacy of Kain. The gameplay at the moment is still a bit too cumbersome, it lacks fluidity and some mechanics should be revised. The biggest flaw, however, is the overabundance of bugs, too many even for early access. Some of them are minor and even tear a smile, while others are so serious that they can force you to have to start over the title. Perhaps it would have been more correct to just release a demo and use the time gained to correct the numerous problems. In any case, this project has great potential and can aspire to be one of the best soulslike ever produced. Pros and cons Futuristic and original setting
Great graphics and sound
Great freedom of exploration x Too many gamebreaking bugs
x Woody fight
x Too many missing parts

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