|Note the shady individual on the right|
There's actually been surprisingly little press about Shadow Realms. In fact, the only time I ever heard about the game was when they released their initial teaser trailer which didn't really reveal much at all. The only thing that piqued my interest at first was that it was being made by Bioware, you know, those guys behind many classic RPGs like Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age etc. Although before I go any further, I have to point out that it's actually Bioware Austin at the helm for this title who are actually only known for their MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The official website has little in the way of actual screenshots or gameplay videos so far, although there have been some videos posted by the gaming press on YouTube (demo versions of the game at gaming expos mainly). Reactions to the videos on YouTube have been generally mixed but I think it's because people are expecting this to be another story-rich, single-player RPG experience which Bioware is more famous for and instead all they see from the YouTube videos is a third-person co-op dungeon crawler like Diablo.
I think people aren't getting the whole picture, at least with respect to what Bioware Austin intends to do with this title. Sure, a good bulk of the core gameplay may end up being a third-person co-op dungeon crawler like Diablo, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, what seems to be really exciting for me is that the game actually has more in common with a wacky 80s cartoon called Dungeons & Dragons more than anything else. Yes, you read right. Dungeons & Dragons, the role-playing game developed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Anyway, in the cartoon a group of friends are transported into a magical fantasy realm based on Dungeons & Dragons and have to find their way home with the help of the "Dungeon Master". Like the cartoon, Shadow Realms's plot revolves around the transporting of four modern-day people into the magical Shadow Realms where you fight the forces of evil that are controlled by... another human who happens to be a Dungeon Master of sorts, except he/she acts as the antagonist and is responsible for spawning enemies to prevent you from completing your objective. In this regard, it sounds like the game has more in common with a Versus game in Left 4 Dead or Evolve, thanks to the 4v1 dynamic. A co-op game where a human plays the big, bad antagonist? A game that is actually having a go at emulating what it's like to play Dungeons & Dragons? Yes please.
Also, for those wondering where the hallmarks of Bioware have gone (such as branching narrative, choices resulting in actual consequences, etc.), apparently that's all going to be in there too - probably not to the same extent as games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, but they will still be in there. That is why I'm excited about Shadow Realms. Now the question is, will Bioware Austin be able to pull it off?
[ LINK: Official Shadow Realms Website ]