Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
- DAILY REVIEWS -
Shadowhand Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Whether you're a Regency Solitaire pro or only just now hearing about it, don't let Shadowhand slip by. This is an addictive little card game with a ton of content, all kinds of stuff to buy, a compelling story and a bunch of intense one-on-one fights with a wide assortment of colorful characters. This is a prequel that improves on the sequel in every way and may finally make people look at solitaire in a whole new light. I can't wait to see what Grey Alien comes up with next. Rating: 78%
Shadowhand
«
Shadowhand Shadowhand Shadowhand Shadowhand
  • Review Score:

  • B+
When you think of solitaire, you probably picture the boring, personality-free card game that comes packaged with many computers. But when Grey Alien Games thinks solitaire, they imagine a role-playing game that expands on the theme in new and addicting ways. Believe it or not, this UK-based developer has spent the last decade redefining the card game with titles like Fairway Solitaire and Regency Solitaire. Now they're back with Shadowhand, an immensely satisfying time-waster that somehow manages to mix a swashbuckling adventure game with that card game everybody plays when they're bored at work. The result is the most exciting solitaire game you'll play this year.

This is the story of Lady Cornelia Darkmoor, a beguiling young aristocrat who dons a special mask to become the notorious highwaywoman, Shadowhand. She's on a quest to find and protect a woman named Mariah, which eventually leads to a conspiracy filled with corruption, smuggling and blackmail. Everybody has a story in this dangerous world.


Similar to Regency Solitaire, Shadowhand only loosely follows the rules of the popular card game. This isn't a game about matching suits or moving large piles of cards around, because the only thing you need to worry about is counting up or down. It's surprisingly simple; if you draw a three, then you're looking for either a two or four. The idea is to keep counting up or down until you either clear the board or need to draw a new card.

The puzzles start out simple enough, but quickly add new obstacles that make moving cards around a lot more difficult. For example, some piles will need to be unlocked with a key, while others will need to be dug up with a shovel. There are levels hiding treasure, stages with overgrown thorn bushes that need to be burned down and cards that are in the dark and require a lantern to be seen. Many of these hindrances are borrowed directly from Regency Solitaire, while others are brand new to the series.

Speaking of things from the first game, Shadowhand also has a bunch of special abilities at the ready. These powers will allow you to change the board in dramatic ways, such as destroying a few cards off of the top and even reshuffling the whole thing. You'll unlock and buy a bunch of these active and passive powers, giving Shadowhand the skills she'll need to get ahead in this cutthroat world.

Shadowhand (PC)Click For the Full Picture Archive

What this game adds to the formula is a one-on-one battle that sees the two combatants fighting it out over the same deck of cards. This is where many of the role-playing elements come to light. There's a real emphasis on buying and collecting new weapons, items and abilities. It goes far beyond the few advantages found in Regency Solitaire and becomes a major part of not only earning three stars in each stage, but also beating the wide assortment of cranky bosses.

I don't want to just gloss over how exciting some of these battles are. Grey Alien has done a good job of giving each opponent a different tactic, thanks in large part to the variety of items and special abilities they'll throw at you. These one-on-one fights don't come across as tacked on, but rather feel like a natural extension of the regular stages. You'll need to be mindful of your opponent's weaknesses, constantly change your weapons and rearrange your abilities in order to come out on top, all things that add a layer of complexity missing from Regency Solitaire.

At the same time, some of these battles can be aggressively frustrating. Much like the rest of the game, a bit of your success and failure can be credited to luck. You'll run into hands where you can't get anything started, while you watch your opponent get a 15 card combo. I'm not sure why, but this is much more aggravating in the battles than the standard puzzles.

Shadowhand (PC)Click For the Full Picture Archive

When I look back at my review of Regency Solitaire, I can't help but notice that the developer has addressed nearly all of my criticisms. I complained that there was too much filler and not enough to buy, so they added a staggering amount of weapons, items, special moves and more. I was cold on the Jane Austen-inspired story, so they added an exciting heroine that could very well be considered a 19th century superhero. Couple that with the improved graphics, added depth and faster pace, and you have a prequel that is better than the original in every conceivable way.

Whether you're a Regency Solitaire pro or only just now hearing about it, don't let Shadowhand slip by. This is an addictive little card game with a ton of content, all kinds of stuff to buy, a compelling story and a bunch of intense one-on-one fights with a wide assortment of colorful characters. This is a prequel that improves on the sequel in every way and may finally make people look at solitaire in a whole new light. I can't wait to see what Grey Alien comes up with next.
comments powered by Disqus