The Shattering – Review
Follow Genre: Story-driven adventure game
Developer: Super Sexy Software
Publisher: Deck13
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

The Shattering – Review

Site Score
9.8
Good: Amazing storytelling, Dream-like graphics
Bad: Visual effects can be a bit too much
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

There’s a fine line in storytelling between literality and obscurity. And especially for games, if you have a story to tell, you will have to spend a lot of time fine-tuning your narrative to convey this story clearly, while still keeping your players guessing and make them play longer. Walking simulators, while definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, have perfected the art of storytelling over the years, and if the plot manages to capture your interest the lack of gameplay is hardly a drawback. The Shattering manages to capture our interest for sure and even carried it through till the very end.

Story

The Shattering opens up with a message warning the player of serious themes about emotional and psychological welfare to come. And as soon as the opening cutscene plays out, you’ll be aware of why. The story starts in a psychiatric’s office, where a man named John Evans talks to one Dr. Richards about what brings him here. We discover early on that John has a drinking problem and even caused a serious accident while drunk driving, but the reason for his issues aren’t immediately apparent. For this, we will have to dive deep into John’s memories and psyche and learn more about the tragic events that led to things getting so desperately out of hand.

Using a blend of environmental storytelling and simple puzzles interspersed with occasional cutscenes, The Shattering tells a pretty heavy story that has enough mystery to keep you going, but doesn’t thread into the annoying vague abstractness that often plagues these titles.

Graphics

Visually the game looks stunning. What stands out immediately is the monochrome color pallet, which uses bright spots of color only for certain objects or gameplay elements. Combine this with the ever-changing environments and sometimes unsettling architecture and we really feel like we’re reliving both memories and dreams, never certain of what might be real or isn’t. Visual effects are also used amply to drive this point even further home, but just a tad too much at times. The abundance of motion blur and similar effects did become straining on the eyes at times, which is a pity because this is exactly the kind of game you want to keep playing for long stretches at a time without getting a headache.

Sound

The Shattering has some beautiful pieces of music in it, which works in conjunction with the graphics to set the tone. From melancholic tunes to more adrenaline-pumping tracks during the rare chase scenes, the soundtrack here is nothing to complain about and will gladly wrench at all your emotions. The game is voice-acted throughout and this too was a great addition to an already engaging experience.

Gameplay

The Shattering is a story-driven adventure game. You wouldn’t be too far amiss calling it a walking simulator, seeing as the rare gameplay elements are in line for this genre. The narrative is what takes the spotlight throughout, laying a lot of focus on character development and mystery, and is described as a psychological thriller on the store page. Most of the game you will spend finding yourself in certain locations- sometimes mundane while others feel rather strange – and moving through them to progress the story.

Besides simply walking where you need to go, sometimes you will encounter simple puzzles. Usually, this means interacting with items or picking them up to use someplace else. The game is generally very good about making it clear where you’re supposed to go or what you need to do, avoiding the usual pitfall of having the player amble aimlessly within a too-large map in search of some abstract thing you need to interact with to continue. The pacing of the story is key here and The Shattering makes sure it hits every beat, knowing when to give you time to relax or when to make you tug tail and run.

But your own influence matters too. You will at times be presented with dialogue options or choices and while their impact on the story seems minimal, it is interesting to get psychoanalyzed along with John and it generally does a lot to make his character more relatable. The game consists of four acts, each about an hour in length, which makes the game relatively short. Despite this, the shortness actually plays in its favor, taking just enough time to properly tell the story without wearing out its welcome.

Conclusion

The Shattering does exactly what it promises to do, telling a concise but heart-wrenching story hitting on some heavy themes. The beautiful graphics full of ever-changing environments and some great designs, combines with a stellar soundtrack and voice-acting, make for a short, interesting experience that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss out on.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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The Shattering - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Jessica
Jessica


Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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