9 Years of Shadows – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Platformer, Metroidvania
Developer: Halberd Studios
Publisher: Freedom Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

9 Years of Shadows – Review

Site Score
Good: Beautiful pixel art, Entertaining gameplay loop
Bad: Minor bugs, Enemies get stuck behind obstacles
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Even though some Metroidvania titles are tough as nails, we do quite enjoy the genre. We often very much love to see our character evolve throughout the course of the game with new abilities allowing us to explore new areas, but if done right, the combat in these games also proves to be very entertaining. In comes 9 Years of Shadow, a recently released Metroidvania title that we had on our radar for quite some time. We were enamored by the game’s early footage thanks to its very impressive-looking pixel art. The question, of course, remained if the gameplay was equally as good. All in all, we were very impressed by the game.


The game has a fairly simple story to tell that is still fleshed out enough to become rather captivating. Nine years ago the world was robbed of all its colors and it has turned into a grey and depressing place to live. Many died during this event but the game’s protagonist, Europa, survived the entire ordeal. She sadly lost her family when the world lost its colors, but now she is following the rumors of where the event first started. This leads her to a dark castle in which she hopes to exact her revenge. While her quest is a valiant one, she immediately gets defeated by a massive demon lurking in the castle. Luckily a small spirit, Apino, saves her life and thanks to this all colors have also been restored in the castle. Even though this is a cause for celebration, the demon still lives and Europa is seemingly the only one who can vanquish it. As a whole, the story is actually very appealing and you do care about the game’s protagonist and her ghost sidekick. There is enough story exposition to motivate you to press forward.


9 Years of Shadows is a gorgeous game with impressive pixel art for its character sprites, enemy sprites, and backdrops. The game might have a retro aesthetic, but it still looks quite amazing. We were impressed by the very fluid animations and we did also enjoy the highly detailed cutscenes that are shown throughout the experience. We were perhaps a bit disappointed that enemy models are recycled very quickly, which is a shame.


The sound design is great. The background music is very good and the songs that are played definitely get you in the mood to start vanquishing enemies. The music hits all the right notes and the sound effects give great feedback for what is going on during combat. As the game somewhat revolves around music it’s important that the soundtrack has enough variation, and it’s easy to say that 9 Years of Shadows does not disappoint here either.


9 Years of Shadows is an entry-level Metroidvania game in which you’ll explore different regions, all while you unlock new abilities that allow you to backtrack and explore a few new areas here and there. The offset is quite simple, as you try to progress through the different regions of the game in order to gain new abilities and defeat bosses. The game doesn’t have anything too complex you’ll have to master, but it will take you some time to figure out some of the attack patterns of the enemies.

As a whole, the game has a very entertaining gameplay loop. You’ll get the hang of the controls quite quickly and you’ll notice that the game’s difficulty isn’t too high. While you’ll encounter a few annoying bosses and some stronger foes, if you saved recently you will not have to backtrack that much should you meet an early demise. We perhaps found the game’s difficulty to be a bit too low at times, and given that you can beat the game in several hours, it also means that this fun adventure is over rather quickly. Then again, with the game’s current price tag, you’re still getting quality content. We did encounter a few bugs or odd design choices where enemies would get stuck behind obstacles making it so that you can just kill tougher enemies from a distance.

As you progress through the game, things do get a bit more complex thanks to the usage of different elements. Sometimes you’ll have to swap armor to deal more damage to enemies or simply to bypass certain obstacles. For example, you’ll need to use Poseidon’s gear to walk around in the water as you’ll merely float when you have another armor equipped. This does add a few nice mechanics to the mix, and it also gives you a sense of progress when you start unlocking these new suits of armor.


9 Years of Shadows is a great entry-level title for the Metroidvania genre while also providing a short but sweet experience for genre veterans. We loved the game’s overall aesthetics and the gameplay loop was very enjoyable. Perhaps the difficulty was a bit low at times, but this didn’t detract from the overall fun we had with the game. If you’re looking for a Metroidvania title with an interesting story, this one is certainly worth checking out.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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9 Years of Shadows - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

Aspiring ninja.

1 Comment

  1. […] 2D Metroidvania games, players are spoiled for choice these days. Just recently, we’ve looked at 9 Years of Shadows, Pronty, and Grim Guardians: Demon Purge, just to name a few. As such, Curse of the Sea Rats […]

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