Shade: Wrath of Angels Download
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
It's Not often that a game's history turns out to be more interesting than the game itself. Shade: Wrath Of Angels started life a few years back as Nefandus, a dismal-looking action-adventure from Czechbased nobodies Black Element Software. While the first batch of screenshots, being almost entirely black, didn't cause much of a splash at they must have caught someone's svengali-like eye, as the studio was soon acquired by high-flying Czech outfit Bohemia Interactive Studio (the developer of Operation Flashpoint). Under the direction of BIS, the game was overhauled, and actually started to look quite good for a time, prompting the developer to state that its creation would be "perfect in every respect."
The wrath of the gods duly invoked, the project soon went a bit Daikatana, and for one reason or another the game never looked as good again. Another year, a name change and a new rendering engine later, the game has now been overhauled more times than the EU constitution. Frankly though, they needn't have bothered.
Shade's inconsequential story sees you as your typical wisecracking hard man who, after being summoned to a deserted village by his estranged archaeologist brother, is transported around several time zones in order to do the bidding of a mysterious entity. Although the main task is to collect various artefacts from each level, the crux of the gameplay is to fight your way through a horde of demon beasties, and tackle the odd puzzle.
Hell On Earth
Unfortunately, Shade is left wanting in both of these areas. In terms of combat, the focus is kept squarely on melee, with a lightsaber-style sword your primary weapon. Weapons dropped by fallen enemies can be temporarily picked up and used, including a few ranged arms, but the versatility of your Jedi pig-sticker renders this somewhat pointless.
No matter which weapon you use, the button-bashing combat interface is weak, and ranged attacking suffers from an inability to run and shoot at the same time.
The puzzle aspects of the game also fail to provide any real enjoyment. Most tasks are as facile as finding switches, and even the slightly more cerebral challenges fail to surprise. Annoying platform jumping is also in evidence.
A series of sub-Nukem wisecracks is contributed in an attempt to lighten the mood, but for the most part all you'll hear is the mantra "it's blocked," as you try one of the countless doors the game doesn't want you to go through. The presentation in general - aside from a few competent lighting effects - overshoots the dark and moody mark, and ends up in the vicinity of dingy and dull (if not quite as black as the early screenshots that we saw).
If Shade was scrapped and given yet another redesign, the to-do list would be endless -wishy-washy combat, braindead Al, insipid level design, soulcrushing puzzles, a towering stack of bugs. If that formidable collection was sorted out, then the multiple endings and the fact that you can transform into a demon might actually count for something. As it stands though, Shade is quite simply shite.