Shadows Over Loathing (Switch) Review
Fairies with firearms, goblins with glockenspiels, legumes with lightning powers and a meat-based economy. That’s Shadows Over Loathing in a nutshell, and it’s one of the most hilariously unique RPGs I’ve played in a long while.
Developed by Asymmetric Publications, Shadows Over Loathing was initially released for PC and Mac late last year and now hits the Switch. The game is a sequel to 2017’s West of Loathing, which was, in turn, a spin-off of the browser-based multiplayer RPG Kingdom of Loathing, first released by Asymmetric in 2003. Shadows Over Loathing features the same hand-drawn stick-figure style and zany sense of humour that led to the series’ cult following but as a standalone adventure it’s fair game for fans and newcomers alike.
After being summoned by your uncle to Ocean City, a run-down, hobo-stricken town in prohibition-era America, you’ll be thrown head-first into some funny business and have to solve some doggone mysteries. There’s not-so-organised crime, a race of fishmen, and a house of tentacles and that’s just in the first chapter. And by jove, there’s a whole lot more to see!
Gameplay-wise, Shadows Over Loathing doesn’t reinvent the RPG, but does everything right. I’m talking classes, perks, skill checks, gear, random encounters, and all that jazz. Despite a little bit of difficulty in earlier combat situations, I’ve got nothing bad to say (and even then, if you die in an encounter you’ll respawn just before it). And there’s also a little bit of point-and-click and text-based adventure games tossed in for good measure. Actually a lot of text so I hope you’re in the mood to read!
But its the writing, worldbuilding and attention to detail that really make Shadows Over Loathing stand tall. The humour is top-notch, constantly poking fun at the genre’s tropes, breaking the fourth-wall and just being generally goofy. The humour doesn’t stand in the way of the atmosphere either – despite how zany the game is there’s a lot of story in a world that really feels lived in.
The locals and the locales are all great and all add a little something to the game, be it a quest or just a convo. And like I said, the attention to detail is amazing. During one puzzle I tried to get through a toxic gas cloud wearing a gas mask then a diver’s helmet, both to no avail. When I went back to speak to the character whose quest had led me there he mentioned the very headgear I’d just attempted and pointed out the dumb video game logic as to why that solution wouldn’t work. Great stuff.
Shadows Over Loathing is brilliant. The adventure RPG stuff works well, the comedy is right up my alley and there’s so much to see and do. I honestly kept thinking it was so good that it had have a short runtime but nope, the chapters just keep rolling in. Ocean City is the place to be!
+ Brilliant sense of humour and great writing all up
+ Very mechanically sound
+ Massively unique
- The artstyle might not be for everyone
- Earlier battles can be tricky