App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
I'm not really sure to begin when talking about Shadow of Naught, so I'll just say this: it's an incredibly confusing and disappointing game. This narrative adventure has a great look and some novel gameplay, but the story at the center fails to communicate effectively at nearly every turn. By the time you're done with this short experience, you might ask yourself what Shadow of Naught is even about.
Story of sadness
Shadow of Naught tells the story of three characters and a series of events that bind them together. You experience these events via chapters, which are short sections of gameplay with light puzzles that dole out plot points along the way.
It's likely clear from the title alone that Shadow of Naught tells a pretty dark story, though it does so clumsily. Right from the beginning there are sections of dialogue that are overly expository and awkwardly phrased, which make it hard to really engage with what these characters are going through.
The strange writing would've driven me away immediately if it weren't for Shadow of Naught's excellent sense of style. The game uses a rich color palette and makes great use of silhouettes in a way that reminds me of Saul Bass's artwork.
Each gameplay section also has some novel gameplay mechanic to it that I found myself curious to see. There are creative hidden object challenges, rhythm games, and even a somewhat interactive fight to uncover across Shadow of Naught's story. I'm not sure all of these gimmicks work they way they were intended to, but discovering these unexpected gameplay twists became the driving force leading me through the game.
By the time I reached the end of Shadow of Naught, though, the game had run out of new ideas, and the story failed to get more intriguing. In fact, the entire game is so poorly communicated that I wasn't sure I understood the entirety of what had happened, and I certainly didn't know why.
A big reason for this is Shadow of Naught's clumsy writing, which--in addition to feeling wooden and forced--is full of lines that don't really make sense. In the end, I was able to piece together the gist of the story, but nearly all of the nuance was tangled up in dialogue that desperately needs rewriting.
The bottom line
Shadow of Naught is pretty hard to recommend. Although there is some novelty to its look and mechanics, it's ultimately trying to deliver a story and is woefully incapable of doing so. The end result is a short experience that will likely leave you wanting.