hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Shad'O

12:00 PM on 11.03.2012 // Alasdair Duncan

Maybe not the tower defense of your dreams

Tower Defense games are fairly common these days but despite the rigidity of their design, developers still manage to take the basic tenets of the genre and make some interesting titles. Sanctum, Anomaly: Warzone Earth, and Plants vs. Zombies have all been distinct and enjoyable games. Even Orcs Must Die! and Dungeon Defenders did something unique by adding third-person action to the mix.

Shad'O has arrived, attempting to give the tower defense genre a new setting, however, gamers may find it a familiar and all-too-traditional experience.

Shad'O (PC)
Developer: Okugi Studio
Publisher: Okugi Studio
Released: September 4, 2012
MRSP: $9.99

In Shad'O, you control William, a young boy who is attempting to fend off the forces of forgetfulness and shadows to retrieve his memories before they're lost forever. Aided by his childhood teddy bear, William will travel to different locations of his dreams in an attempt to beat back an ever increasing fog that threatens to cut the link to his past. In each level, there is a memory that the shadows are trying to destroy and that's what he must protect with his army of patchwork tower companions. But as William salvages his memories, is he better to have left some things forgotten?

Shad'O brings a few interesting dynamics to the tower defense genre, most notably the fog that envelopes most of the level. At the start of a level, most of the map will be swathed in fog and it's only by placing units that you can disperse some of the gloom. It's an interesting dynamic -- you'll be forced to place units not only for their offensive abilities but also so you can get a better idea of what type of enemies are incoming along the main paths. You can place units near some light beacons at the beginning of a level and from those points, you can expand your forces to reveal the rest of the map. Maintaining these units is vital as it's easy to get swamped with foes after losing advanced positions.

However, at its core Shad'O really is fairly traditional tower defense -- enemies attack along a strict path (or paths) and the units you place are all fairly standard (e.g., the shooter, the laser, the area-of-attack, and so on). At the start of the game, you have the three basic offensive units and the primary energy retrieval unit; it's only after the first boss that you'll be given access to more units with further ones unlocked later on. Shad'O isn't great at giving feedback as to what towers are effective against certain enemies. With the necessity to reveal more of the enemy path, expanding quickly with lots of cheap units reaps as much reward as careful placement of more expensive and powerful ones.

While units can be upgraded to more powerful and effective versions, you have to unlock the ability to do so after completing a level. You have the option of unlocking up to another two tiers of upgrades or choosing a variety of spells to gain access to instead. Upgrading a unit in battle is as easy and the fact that each upgrade only costs the same as the initial unit cost, it's an appealing route to take. However, many of the spells are invaluable to progression and can greatly swing the tide of a battle in your favor. Indeed, one particular spell that removes any stun effects on your units became the only way I was able to beat the first boss level.

Having a single unlock after completing a level is a big gamble, but a poor choice will stay with you for the rest of the game. Once you complete a level, you're able to replay it in Nightmare Mode which ramps up the difficulty and rewards an extra unlock. These become vital -- stacking spells and upgrading units are a must as the game offers an increasingly steep challenge in later levels. Also available are bonus stages where there is a tweak on the gameplay formula; the reward here is a special permanent bonus or buff. Levels might have a random draw aspect to the units available or a particularly inventive scenario where you have a battlefield full of fully upgraded units but are only able to activate them one at a time.

Shad'O never takes advantage of its dream setting to make some really interesting levels; despite some eye-catching backgrounds, the levels are always on a 2D plane and look fairly similar. Likewise, the unit and enemy design are fairly standard. The friendly units are like patchwork toys made up of mismatched felt, but there's some charm to see them fully upgraded with their out-of-place weaponry. The enemy units are blobs of inky shadow with little to tell them apart. When they're bunched up in a crowd, it can be hard to tell what specifically is incoming. The cutscenes are composed of still images with little animation but they convey William's sense of confusion and his gradual understanding of why his memories have been disappearing.

Shado'O offers a solid tower defense experience, albeit one that doesn't take advantage of its unique setting and story. While mechanically sound, despite some frustrations when it comes to unit placement around the fog, it's nothing you probably haven't played before.

Tower defense newcomers should head for Defense Grid: The Awakening, but if you're looking for a different style of game in the genre, Shad'O might give you some fun hours. 



Shad'O - Reviewed by Alasdair Duncan
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Alasdair Duncan, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Full_of_hornets Tips
Alasdair Duncan is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming that is not Fraser Brown. A long time Destructoid community member and forum moderator, he covers adventure, puzzle, F... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I recently beat Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow again, but this time I played on Hard mode from scratch. Outside of dying a few times due to me being an idiot, and enemies hitting harder, it was actually easy. Like really easy.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Today I replated bacteria that I made take up a plamid hopefully stitched onto the genes generatlight. Taken from other dead bacteria and put into a non glowing species, to make it glow. Fucking microbiology is the best.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
It seems fairy farts are a fragrance, a soap, incense, a vaping liquid and a kind of nail polish. I'm clearly in the wrong line of work and need to eat more chili.
Cannibal Steven avatarCannibal Steven
"You gave the Lost Soul a big smile, like you remember she likes to do... For some reason she sort of wants to smile back..." I'm not crying. Not one bit.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Just tried 'The Last Of Us' on PSNow Trial, only to be told... 'Something went wrong. Try again.' Game-appropriate error message or quickie plot-summary?
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
I hate when people say crap like "I admit that [thing] in games is problematic, but I still enjoy it" because it's an underhanded way of contradicting your own views while convincing yourself that you aren't a hypocrite.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Well shit. I knew I was more than likely going to enjoy Star Wars Battlefront (cause you know, giant Star Wars nerd and all) but holy cow, the beta is fucking great! I need the full game like, now.
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Anyone here going to NYC Comic Con? Always wanted to go and lived so close, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.
Mark Plechaty avatarMark Plechaty
Well I haven't seen any levels like this on mario maker so maybe it's unique the I'd is 55BD000000961CBA GIVE IT A GO and let me know what you think
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Hey Stranger ... wadda you buying ? Want some crack ? Here ya go... [youtube][/youtube]
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
My brother caught me this Pokémon in our room yesterday. How should I name it? [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Yay, I got off of work early and may have Friday off! I have a sinking feeling I'm going to work 10 hours on Saturday as a result, though :/ We ran out of stuff to make stuff with so they must ship us stuff so we can ship stuff.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Yo yo I'm Marie and I got dat gangsta flow. High scores ain't no trip, cuz I whip that shit like Sonic quick. I-I mean no! I didn't say anything! Stupidrecordbreakingcombodolt. [img][/img]
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I'm watching you.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Work noooooooooooooooooo D:
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I had such a awkward time playing Catherine because it shared the same name as my mother....
JayDGee avatarJayDGee
Broforce is coming out of early access on the 15th. I had no Idea it was an early access game.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
I have now played all 3 Witcher games. My verdict: Witcher 1 - alright, aged badly, lots of sex. Witcher 2 - good, very short, not much sex at all. Witcher 3 - Excellent in every way.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I really wish MGO had been implemented with free-roam gameplay PMC (clan) setup instead of the standard matchmaking. Imagine roaming bands of PMC's opposing each other on the battlefield. How sexy would that be?
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -