Review: Ereban: Shadow Legacy is a solid, if unsurprising stealth game

Ereban: Shadow Legacy

Pure stealth games are fairly rare these days. While there have been titles like the two Styx games and a host of other indies, big-budget stealth games have mostly died out. Ubisoft used to be a centre for them, including the Tom Clancy: Splinter Cell series and the earlier Assassin’s Creed games before they pivoted to becoming open-world action-adventures. Ereban: Shadow Legacy from Baby Robot Games is very much a throwback in that regard, focussing almost exclusively on stealth and platforming.

Players take on the role of Ayana, one of the last of a race of Ereban, who have special magical powers which allow them to turn into shadows when in dark spaces. Set in a vaguely dystopian universe, Ayana must evade and fight against the Helios Corporation, who want to use Ayana and her powers for nefarious ends. She instead teams up with a group of freedom fighters called the Forgotten Suns, aimed at taking down the corporation and uncovering its secrets. The plot isn’t the driving force of the experience and while I appreciated there was so much lore, not a lot of it was particularly engaging. The voice acting throughout is pretty good though, which does make the story more interesting to listen to.

The Helios Corporation is a megacorporation much like others, hell-bent on domination.

The core pillar of the gameplay is stealth, which is majorly focused around using Ayana’s ability to merge with shadows and become a small cloud of smoke, allowing for swiftly transitioning up walls, behind enemies or over obstacles. It’s always satisfying to turn into a cloud, zoom over behind a robot and then execute a stealth take down, before vanishing back into the darkness​ without anyone noticing. Ayana can only use and maintain this skill when in shadow herself, becoming fully visible again in direct light.

In addition to shadow merging, Ayana can harness other shadow-based powers and high-tech gadgets to enhance her stealth abilities. You get access to a variety of traps and abilities which can allow you to distract guards, or incapacitate them at a distance. Sonar buoys can allow you to mark enemies on the map, while the Visor allows you to zoom in on the landscape and plan out your infiltration route. You can then craft more of these equipment items using scrap which you find around the levels. Likewise by collecting shadow orbs, you can also unlock new shadow powers such as dashing, which provide additional options.

The Nascent was the founder of Helios, and is revered as a god.

While you can kill occasional human enemies and unlock a boost to your shadow stamina meter, doing so is not necessarily a good choice, narratively. However, for the vast majority of the game you’ll be facing down a fairly rote variety of robots, with only some occasional variants thrown in. Ayana can’t really fight robots and so avoiding or stealth destroying them is always the primary goal. This unfortunately does get rather monotonous, as the robots are fairly simplistic in their behaviour and are likewise easy to evade, even if you are spotted. The level design can get a bit repetitive as most are pretty linear with the way forward easily identifiable, and often there is not much to find off the beaten track except for a few lore collectibles. However in the third act you are thrown into a larger semi-open environment including a cityscape, and these are easily the most enjoyable sections. There are also some environmental puzzles now and then, none of which are particularly taxing.

Visually Ereban: Shadow Legacy is fairly decent, if rather generic. The game’s world blends some African-inspired outdoor locations with a futuristic industrial aesthetic, mostly to good effect. Unfortunately the rather washed out colours and the internal metallic factories and corridors of the Helios Corporation have little which set them apart from other games, although the larger outdoor environments fare a little better. On a technical level there is also some occasional stuttering although thankfully nothing too major, which could be shader compilation related, but thankfully no other major bugs to speak of. 

Ayana prefers to strike from the shadows.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy executes its core gameplay proficiently and effectively, but I did end up wishing there was a greater mix of different styles after a while. The somewhat bland level design and the lack of enemy variety do make this the kind of game which I think I’ll struggle to remember particularly in years to come, even though it doesn’t commit any egregious missteps. The most fun you can have is when you’re ghosting through a level picking off robots without getting spotted, feeling like some kind of magical ninja. For aficionados of stealth platformers, Ereban: Shadow Legacy is certainly easy to recommend, but it ultimately plays it too safe and by the book to create something which transcends its origins.

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