Shadows of Doubt is one of the most unique games I’ve ever played. It has so many crazy emergent gameplay moments that can only happen thanks to its insane amount of mechanics, that it is endlessly playable even in its early access, unfinished state. Dripping in film noir tropes and the complex amount of tying everything together on a red stringed board, makes this game a can’t miss game when it comes out, eventually.
I chose Shadows of Doubt as January’s Game of the Month as a way to finally try the game out after months of going back and forth on it. It was on the Steam Christmas sale, and it was the last day. For around $16 I couldn’t go wrong. I got the overlay setup, installed the game and booted it up. I was met with long load times and a feeling that maybe I got myself into something that wasn’t going to be played for very long on stream.
I ended up playing the game for over two hours and barely making a dent in its massive tutorial. Mostly thanks to an awkward menu system and some clunky gameplay, but if it sounds like I’m down on the game, nothing could be further from the truth. I find Shadows of Doubt more creative and complex than any other game I’ve ever played in my life, thanks to its numerous paths of figuring out a who-dun-it. Following certain leads can lead down branching paths of sneaking and breaking & entering, or some leads might not pan out at all. The fact that multiple things can happen in a single story’s thread is just a way to showcase how crazy the game really is.
Even playing the tutorial multiple times, I always had something different happen to the point that I didn’t even know how to progress and had to figure it out on the fly during my streaming sessions with it. The multitude of different characters and buildings and gadgets to solve simple problems means the game’s more emergent sections blossom into an unforgettable experience.
I’d love to say I was good at the game, I’d love to say that I understood what to do and how to do it well. But some of those mechanics can break in gameplay, and I ultimately did find myself struggling with menus and situations through most of my 15 hours of it. Mostly due to my own misunderstandings or not grasping what the game wanted me to do, or how to do it. I really hope the game has a bit more polish once it comes out of Early Access. It already feels very solid and with a few months of dedicated spit shining to it, I think Shadows of Doubt has a real shot at being the next “indie darling/streaming game” (Also, I hate the term indie darling).