shadow over disgust review | RPG fan

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Your main goal with this review is to educate readers about the clever, irreverent loathing game series and discuss its latest installment. shadow over disgust. They’re a bit skeptical because they’ve only heard about it kingdom of hate as “the fun stick figure game” by the way. What’s your approach?

  • [I will physically make the readers sit down and play this game now. (10 Muscle)]
  • [Pen a review that will make all the morning editions and may even be mentioned on the wireless! (7 Moxie)]
  • [Magically transmit the game directly into their minds. (10 Mysticality, 5G Mind Control Ring)]
  • [Buy a copy for everyone who’s still reading this. (More Meat than you currently have)]
  • [Oh yeah, I played West of Loathing. It was pretty entertaining and there were a lot of spittoons. It was alright, I guess. (Leave)]

As you probably gleaned from the intro above, shadow over disgust is an adventure role-playing game by Asymmetric. It is based on their flagship free online adventure RPG kingdom of hate, which is still running after more than a decade. (If that doesn’t convince you to try their games, I don’t know what will.) The main in-game stats are Muscle, Moxie, and Mystic, and the currency is Flesh. Fortunately in my time with shadow over disgustI’ve played the Moxie-based Jazz Agent class, so let’s dive in and hopefully I can fulfill my Moxie-based choice.

For someone familiar with the series, seeing those stats, that currency, and that reassuringly simple yet sophisticated stick figure art was like greeting an old friend. Despite the way Asymmetric has slowly refined its storytelling and mechanics towards cohesive narrative experiences rather than MMO-style quests, it’s a friend with some exciting news and life developments. West of Loathing was her first attempt at this type of experience, and while there were some growing pains, it was a hugely successful move. They refined their browser-limited adventures and battles, implemented a pardner system for quests with other characters, and introduced a narrative framework around a young adventurer in a troubled world who heads west to find his fortune, and connected the side quests loose with this frame.

The Speakeasy is a hip spot for even the busy adventurer. This animated scene is at least 10x more fun.

shadow over disgust feels like a logical next step in many ways. Chronologically, it takes place about 30 years later West of Loathing, which not only simplifies the tie-in to the previous game, but also allows for a highly entertaining 1920s aesthetic. Expect plenty of references to Agatha Christie and Lovecraft horrors and speakeasies… right next to plenty of anachronisms. Somehow this still fits into a cohesive setting as your character works to rescue her uncle who has mysteriously disappeared on his quest to find cursed artifacts and escape. shadow over disgust organizes this quest into chapters—one per artifact—punctuated by dream sequences. You can still wander through fun locations and search for side quests, but this extra layer of organization gives the game a little more panache and narrative weight than previous games. I definitely became a gangster and regularly took on assignments from a mafia contact with a surprising penchant for detail, but I felt motivated to push the story strongly.

Much of the confiscation kingdom of hate were the unusual side quests, locations, and dialogue, and I can safely say that remains largely intact. The majority of shadow over disgust going through situations gaining items or effects to either boost those base Muscle, Moxie, and Mysticality stats or grant armor through status effects (environment and combat) like Sleaze and Spooky damage. Humour, references and jokes are 100% the linchpin of this series, so it’s important to maintain a consistent quality while also laying a foundation through gameplay and world building for these elements to land. Again the disgust Team knows what’s going on, setting up these scenarios and delivering punchlines to suit most tastes, from high-profile references to Chekhov to a selection of silly walks that you can change up by equipping different shoes.

An inventory screen in Shadows Over Loathing that shows the player's basic stats and recent items.
This is the worst item in the history of any game ever.

There’s a wander feature that lets you wander around any area on the map and discover these things. This felt rewarding for its own sake, but also because just often enough the rewards and results were tied to your main goals. Often this was in the form of greater knowledge of the breaches in reality that allowed monsters to roam the land and other disruptive effects such as artifact curses and time travel. Additionally, the crafting systems in this installment reduce unnecessary items and make the side quests feel less overwhelming.

A common complaint about the series is that the battles and fights are fairly basic, and that sticks with it shadow over disgust. If you want complex special attack meters and complicated inputs to execute combos, it just doesn’t exist here. You have multiple special abilities and an extreme variety of foods and potions to affect your party’s stats, but it’s all straightforward and turn-based. One way this game addresses that complaint is by setting expectations, so you know the focus is on the world, exploration, dialogue, and puzzles instead. Most of the combat improvements that Asymmetric has made are actually there to streamline it. I particularly liked that no matter which class you choose, they have a use for all the important stats, rather than the combat class being muscle-focused, the rogue class being moxie-focused, and the magic class being solely mystic-focused. This means it’s easier to keep your stats balanced and functioning in and out of combat, making combat smoother and reducing the amount of time spent upgrading stats that you’re not just using to unlock a puzzle solution or dialogue option you want .

By looking shadow over disgust, another problem can be the graphics. Some RPG fans might not have much tolerance for stick figure simplicity, but it’s clear that the visual team has really honed their art with this title. The graphics look clean and polished, and one benefit of the simplicity is that the game runs incredibly smooth at all times while staying true to its browser-based roots…because you had to find a way to bypass those connection speeds, didn’t you? I was always struck by how expressively the art represented both locations and characters. The animations are very effective, and I love the flashing and cosmic/mysterious effects in the dream and time travel segments.

Investigate a mysterious force in the Geology Union in Shadows Over Loathing.
nope No problem here at all!

The sound design and music are equally dynamic, complementing the visuals to create a deeply engaging atmosphere. The music is not quite as catchy as West of Loathing, which had disco banjo to scream out loud, but it’s definitely eerie and suitably dramatic, and still has some standout tracks. I found myself humming the birdsong version of the battle music when I wasn’t playing. It’s also incredible how some Jazz Agent attacks add instruments to the score for ongoing combat effects. Beating an enemy with an over-the-top sax line in battle music, or healing yourself by adding a flute line, is uniquely satisfying. Not to mention how standard attack and combat sounds are presented with various percussive instruments perfectly timed to the music.

As a whole, shadow over disgust offers a highly entertaining and fascinating experience. If you’re looking for a game that brings out the positive aspects of old-fashioned, text-heavy games, this is a solid choice. It has all the charm of these types of games while being far more accessible. There are even non-combat and arachnophobia options for accessibility, with some bonus options related to the latter that seem to serve as rewards for exploring the accessibility options. It can help fill in the void left by previous graphic adventures while eliminating some of the frustrating puzzle solving and downtime. Or you could just close that void with your shadow tongs. Be sure to pick up this game and get these by the way. It would probably be bad to leave a gap.

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