Title Shadowlands Game Type RPG Players 1 Publisher Krisalis Software Ltd. Compatibility OCS/ECS 1MB (AGA with WHLoad installer) HD Installable Yes with WHDLoad Patch Submission William Payne Review A highly original and engrossing RPG, Shadowlands emerged just as people were crying out for a new take on the party-based RPG, having finally grown weary of the endless uninspiring Dungeon Master clones and repetitive, slow AD&D games. Shadowlands was played from an isometric perspective, and the player was given control of four characters, which were first generated using a random statistics system, and brought to life with portraits which were designed by the player choosing from a selection of hairstyles, eyes, mouths etc. The graphics for these portraits were fairly manga in style, which made a change for a European developed RPG. Once the game began, it was immediately apparent that this was different from anything yet seen in the genre. The player's party could be split up into groups, and controlled individually. This was something that I'd always wanted to be able to do in a roleplaying game, ever since Dungeon Master. The isometric angle made it much easier to do this of course. The plot was, unsurprisingly for a game of it's type, pretty forgettable. Very forgettable, even, as it seems like I've forgotten it, but by this point in the Amiga's history as a games machine I think many of us had given up on expecting interesting storylines to games. If I remember correctly there was some kind of story in the manual, but nothing more inspiring than the usual "land in peril, kill the wizard" nonsense. However, probably the biggest innovation was the "photoscope" lighting system. The party members needed to carry torches with them in order to see their way along the dark stone corridors, and as the torches burned down the radius of the torchlight would shrink, until eventually the character was in complete darkness. I know this sounds very similar to the system used in Dungeon Master, but it was much more dynamic here. Light would attract some monsters, while scaring off others. Also some puzzles required light from a torch to be cast over a certain object or area, and without light many secret passages and buttons were completely invisible. The idea was greatly expanded on for the follow-up game, Shadow Worlds, but seen here for the first time it was certainly impressive enough. The magic system was simple, which is always best for magic systems I think. Basically once a scroll containing a spell was found, it could be cast by any wizard of a high enough level with sufficient energy. Cleverly, scrolls could be put into spellbooks for easy access, and strung together in sequences to form "combos". Shadowlands was by no means an easy game, spanning around 16 large levels, and with a wide variety of creatures and traps to overcome defeating the evil wizard (or dragon, or monkey-god, or whatever it was) took me a long time. There was one particularly annoying aspect, however, and that was the little rats that infested many of the levels. For some reason, although they were tiny, there was no way (at least that I could find) to kill them, as they couldn't be targeted as an enemy. They just followed your characters around, nibbling at their ankles and causing a tiny amount of damage. This caused problems on certain levels where you were forced to split up the party, as while you were concentrating on one character the others could be getting chewed to pieces by the tiny rodents, meaning you would have to continuously switch back and forth to make sure all your characters were a safe distance from the rats. Despite that minor flaw, Shadowlands was nevertheless an inspiring piece of game design, with many features that I'd longed for in a roleplaying game and without too many of the annoying flaws that had put me off the genre over the previous couple of years. It also provided a taster of what was in store for the space-themed genius that was Shadow Worlds, the follow-up that would appear about a year later. But that's a whole different review.