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Shadows of Doubt Early Access Review – Detective Sim

Shadows of Doubt is a fully procedurally generated sandbox stealth game developed by ColePowered Games and published by Fireshine Games. The game released in early access on Steam on April 24, 2023 and see’s us playing and thinking like a detective as we solve crimes within a sci-fi noir city. The voxel graphics may not be for everyone, but I love them, so don’t let that deter you as there is so much to like about the game. We get to use a variety of gadgets and collect evidence to solve cases and it had me engaged for hours each play session.

The game takes a little while to load each time, but this is because literally everything about the city you’re about to explore is procedurally generate. This includes every single NPC having personal information that you can examine like fingerprints, name, address, phone number, occupation and more. It’s crazy to think how much information is there for you to investigate and it’s an exciting gameplay experience.

For its initial launch into Steam early access, Shadows of Doubt includes ‘The Dead of Night’ – a specially crafted case to introduce the game – and a Sandbox Mode, featuring an endless number of cases to investigate and civilians to meet, a variety of equipment and dense procedurally-generated cities to explore. I started with the tutorial scenario and was thankful for the instructional prompts. However, once I got the hang of the basics, I felt constricted by having to complete tutorial tasks in the order the game wanted me to.

I was following instructions and searched the first location that had a dead body. I used the fingerprint scanner to scan prints and found two sets, rummaged through notebooks, the phone log and post-it notes that gave me plenty of evidence to pin to the evidence board. I looked at the evidence and had an idea for my next steps, but these differed to the tutorial prompts, and you can’t really progress unless you do the tutorial steps in order. On one hand it was frustrating as I had to follow ‘their’ line of questioning, but at the same time it made me want to jump into sandbox mode which is a good thing.

Each crime scene will have a plethora of evidence to collect and sift through. Scan fingerprints, check call histories, read private emails, bribe citizens, watch CCTV, or pick locks, break down doors and sabotage security systems – you call the shots on how to solve each case. I got a big gun-ho on my first sandbox case. I knew I had the right suspect, but they were being short and blunt in their responses, so I got the first out and started to persuasively say they were the bad guy. I realise I should have arrested them and questioned them at the station, but adrenaline got the better of me. Though this perp whipped out a shotgun and shot me a few times before I could escape through an air duct.

I managed to limp to a pharmacy to buy bandages and stop the bleeding, however I had suffered a broken leg. For the next 30 minutes or so I proceeded to limp my way around town as I continued along the evidence trail. I got fed up with moving so slow that I thought I would head to the hospital to get the leg fixed but I couldn’t work out how to get it fixed. I slept in a bed through the night thinking perhaps the doctors don’t work at night, but still couldn’t get it fixed. I ended that game and rolled a new one.

ColePowered Games has recently revealed the first look at a roadmap of free content and features coming to Shadows of Doubt during Early Access, ahead of a full 1.0 release scheduled for later this year. Coming in Q2 2023, the game’s first major update will introduce a brand-new side job, along with a new building type and additional NPC interactions, with additional updates planned for Q3 and Q4 2023.

I have enjoyed my time in Shadows of Doubt immensely, and the voxel graphics ticks a niche in my gaming likes that I love coming back to it for short bursts. It really makes you think about how pieces of evidence could connect together, and you can go down any line of questioning to see how far down the rabbit hole it goes. I am still blown away that every single NPC in the game has stats and information about them that you can investigate. Very cool! I am keen to see the game progress over the early access period.

This review utilised a key provided by 71 PR and Shadows of Doubt is available now on Steam early access.


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