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Review: Sundown Shambles
Here is an interesting and weird game called Sundown Shambles. It incorporates some interesting gameplay elements, including several rpg elements which I quite liked. In fact, I would say that this is very different from any other klik game I've ever played. It's a bit rough around the edges, but it's an in depth action rpg that will keep most people interested for quite a while (assuming your computer can keep up).
Gameplay is an interesting mixture of elements. Your character arms swing in circles like a ragdoll as you move the mouse around him. And using this function, you can equip items such as planks and crowbars and actually "swing" your mouse to swing your weapon at enemies! I found this very amusing, and really enjoying swatting at bats as I ran past. It's a really fun way to add a new element to traditional gameplay. You can also equip a second item in your other hand. I found it most useful to have a blunt object in one hand for close encounters, and a gun in the other hand. Thanks to the mouse aiming and swinging, you can use both weapons at the same time. This system isn't without it's problems however. Even after playing for quite a while, I found myself trying to remember how to navigate this system properly. Everytime you leave the screen, you have to reequip your items and reload your guns, which became aggravating. Navigating the menus also takes practice. There are several menus that you can open, and their functions aren't always clear. For instance, to upgrade your stats, you to need to have your "puchase" window open, not just your stats window, even though it's the stats window that you click on (no money needed). I also had problems figuring out how to buy ammo and had to consult the download page to figure it out. The solution was simple, but as with most things in this game, solutions are simple but they don't always make sense.
Graphics are simple but very eerie. You spend a lot of time in caves. Sprites and levels are clear, although sometimes spending too much time in grays. However, there are plenty of great visuals to keep you entertained. Water and particle effects are excellent and the water effect really adds "depth". (heh heh) The gun effects are also impressive, and make you feel like you're really packing heat.
Sounds and music add a huge amount to this game. The music is eerie and interesting, and really adds another layer of atmosphere to an already spooky environment. Sound effects are also well done.
Lastability has a lot of potential, but I fear the game suffers from some technical problems that might hold back most gamers. I have a Pentium 4, 1.7 Ghz 1-gig ram, and the second cave area (cave gets more red) is almost unplayable even on the lowest settings. This is strange because the first cave area runs at full speed with full quality. Something is causing certain areas to lag badly, while others don't. I also think the games lastability would be higher is the menus were streamlined a bit so there just weren't so many of them. I've been playing for quite a while, and I still can't remember offhand what the different between the "T" and "Y" menus are. Weapons should probably not require reloads or should reload automatically when you run out of bullets or are entering new areas. Having to reload just adds one more key that you have to remember to press.
Overall, this is a wonderful and creative game that gets a bit bogged down by technical problems and gameplay quirks. There is a huge amount of potential with the variety of action and rpg elements, but it never quite feels natural, as you'll find yourself looking down at the keyboard pretty often. The game has a ton of great features, they just need to work a bit better together to really make this game come alive. Right now it's a very detailed technical and ambitious project that tends to fall victim to it's own level of complexity. It's still certainly worth playing for it's originality and level of detail. I hope to see a streamlined sequel! Recommended for action/rpg fans with brand new computers.
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