May 28, 2024
Predictable story, messy stealth gameplay and bugs lurking in the shadows make Ereban: Shadow Legacy a disjointed romp. The Finger Guns review:

Ereban: Shadow Legacy is yet another entry into the long list of games which has some great ideas, but fumbles so much of the execution. An intriguing opening plot about an ancient race harbouring powerful abilities and stealth gameplay that involves an intuitive dual platforming and combat purpose. In theory, Ereban: Shadow Legacy has a lot going for it.

In practice however, much of the experience of playing this game is marred with technical issues. Glitches run more rampant than the shadows you cling to, inconsistent AI makes ChatGPT appear positively lifelike, and where the gameplay can emerge from the darkness, it’s dulled by poor integration of its mechanics.

There were moments of playing when I had brief bursts of fun, or I could see the the bright spots shine through from the vision. Sadly, these were too few and far between what’s otherwise a relatively dull and uninteresting stealth action game. Sheath your blade and return to the hidden corner, let’s dive into what prevents Ereban: Shadow Legacy from illuminating it’s brightest sparks.

Shadow Ereban-ned

We begin this tale as Ayana, one of the last of a forgotten race – the Ereban. Ayana and her people were blessed with the kind of powers Garrett from Thief could only dream of. Due to her natural affinity with manipulating the dark (more on that later), Ayana is sought after by a definitely-not-nefarious organisation who have mystically mastered the art of building a halo-like device around the sun for energy harvesting.

Did I mention said organisation also has an armies’ worth of high-tech, militarised machines at their beck and call? If that doesn’t scream hostile takeover 101, I don’t know what does. After this intriguing – if predictable – opening, Ayana aligns herself with the resistance faction. So begins a relatively interesting conflict, with our protagonist out to discover more about her people, and her allies requiring her assistance to succeed.

Unfortunately, the story never really picks up any momentum. The sinister organisation is very blatantly bad, with little nuance or depth to rescue them. Despite meeting a tiny handful of the resistance members, they have little involvement in the overarching story. It’s hard to get invested in characters you barely interact with or have any real connection to.

The mystery surrounding Ayana’s people slowly unfolds as the story develops, but it never amounts to something you can really sink your teeth into. Voice acting on the whole is pretty decent, and the projection of the machine’s echoing dialogue is impressively intimidating, but that’s all that can really be commended. I didn’t dislike or hate the story, but Ayana’s journey feels lacking in that deeper warmth, maybe from all the creeping around in the shadows she’s been doing.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review

Legacy of Wane

Speaking of creeping around in the shadows, you’ll be doing a lot of it in Ereban: Shadow Legacy. Ayana has a greater aversion to light than bats, it turns out. Across a small handful of chapters, you’ll need to avoid the watchful gaze of the pursuing robot forces, and the sun. As an Ereban, Ayana has a shadowy ace card to aid her in all things stealth and avoidance.

With a hold of the right trigger, provided you’re in darkness, you can submerge your body into a shimmering orb like a miniturised black hole. In this physically impractical form, Ayana can avoid detection, scale any surface and glide across distances. There’s a meter that limits how long you can maintain it, meaning you’ll need to strategise when and how best to implement it.

At least you would, if it wasn’t completely overpowered. It’s the core mechanic of Ereban: Shadow Legacy, and simultaneously the only one I ever needed. You can use it to slalom behind robots and gut their insides General Grievous style. You can also use it to straight up bypass 90% of them, trivialising the game altogether.

The biggest issue isn’t the mechanic, it’s the open level design that allowed me to simply abuse it. The AI doesn’t have enough tools to counter it, aside from a glorified go-pro light on their heads. It’s far too simple to just knock out enemy after enemy with reckless disregard, undermining any sense of difficulty. Even stronger variants of bots fall foul of the lack of difficulty, mocking any potential skill gradient.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review

I, Failbot

As you skulk through the story, new versions of robots featuring new abilities emerge. A med bot – you guessed it – can raise a fallen ally, while late-game hunters have a stealth camo. Ignoring that I only even saw two hunters and they were painfully obvious, you can use the medbot AI against it. They’ll dash over immediately to any fallen friend, regardless of context, meaning you can trap the already downed robot with a mine. Or you can skip that too, and just void-orb yourself behind them for a takedown.

Rinse and repeat until everything in the area is defeated. There’s a lack of dynamism that makes Ereban: Shadow Legacy a wearisome affair. There’s gadgets and shadow powers you can acquire to blind, trap or distract the robot fiends, but literally no reason to use them for the majority of the game. Why bother planning out meticulous schemes when you can just hold a trigger down and cruise through?

I know how obnoxious this may sound, but it comes from a place of real disheartening optimism. The mechanic of dark-blob traversal is so cool in some ways. In sections with beaming sunlight you need to estimate your distance and track your foes’ line of sight. Being able to, in theory, traverse any surface and glide onto walls and rooftops should also open up so many opportunities for organic stealth planning.

Yet, the potential succumbs to the encroaching darkness, like a shadow being consumed by the night. Controlling Ayana outside of this mode is floaty and awkward, particularly in small parkour sections. Additionally, the camera lock when in orb mode can go awry, leading to these infuriating moments where despite holding the same direction, you’ll drift off the wrong way, usually right into a light source.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review

Hide From The Light

This same paradigm of flawed potential extends to the traversal puzzling too. At times, I was impressed with the creativity Ereban: Shadow Legacy shows off. Gliding between fan blades that connect shadows on a long wall requiring timing and precision is satisfying. Even more so when you need to break between your shadow and regular self.

Then the camera switches and the controls go wonky, and suddenly all that momentum crashes to a halt. A late-game puzzle sequence requiring you to hit multiple floor plates in one burst of shadow becomes increasingly frustrating over engaging. I felt like for everything the game tries to get right, it spends just as much time casting a looming shadow over itself.

Levels are a mix of more open-ended hubs and linear sequences with a clear path. I say clear, in the sense that it paints purple trails on the path intended. However, more than once I ended up stumped and lost for a couple of minutes, simply due to the signposting being too obscure or poorly implemented.

On the rare occasion Ereban does manage to construct a layered, challenging map, things can click. Using cover, timing shadow sequences, meticulously removing threats, there’s a sandbox of fun in here when the game gets out of its own way. I just wish more of it was designed in this fashion.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review

‘Ere Be Bugs

Lamentably, my issues with Ereban: Shadow Legend don’t stop at the controls. At least half a dozen times, Ayana glitched out of the levels, left to jog around rogue geometry and force a checkpoint reload. Conceivably, you can shadow orb across any surface, yet most have a ring around them acting as a glorified invisible wall.

Graphics for certain parts of maps would often suffer bugged animations, for example waterfalls. There’s a litany of visual issues and mechanical ones, all heaping oxygen onto the already burning flame. After the sixth or so geometry glitch, I breathed a sigh and felt the last of my enthusiasm for the game leave my heavy heart.

It’s a real shame too. The visual artists have done a lot of really good work here to create interesting locations to explore and visually arresting spaces. Ancient, sand-ridden temples, industrial bases and impressive vertical structures create a genuinely compelling atmosphere to each chapter.

The enemy robot design is crafty and fun, while Ayana is a wicked protagonist to inhabit. If it wasn’t for the rogue textural problems, this would be an appealing game aesthetically. It doesn’t help that Ereban: Shadow Legacy suffers with frequent FPS dips and occasional chugging in seemingly non-demanding areas.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review
Behold… a waterfall?

An Unfortunate Legacy

To its credit, Ereban: Shadow Legacy does have some good replay value. You’ll be graded on each mission up to an S rank, to encourage mastery. Moreover, there are three medals to accrue, for no alerts (ghost), all kills (merciless) and no kills (pacifist). For context, I was able to achieve ghost on every level first try, but the other two may be slightly more challenging.

It took me about six hours to complete Ereban, so it’s a decent length for a smaller budget title. Some of that playtime is offset by the fact I was having to reload checkpoints for glitches or performances problems, bear in mind. All in all, it provides a relatively healthy smattering of stealth gameplay for your money.

Whether you’ll gain much enjoyment from that time will depend on your patience. There are some honest-to-God good ideas in Ereban: Shadow Legacy. The powers can be fun, levels are visually interesting and Ayana is a good protagonist. Sadly, almost all of its best elements are overshadowed by its numerous shortcomings and lackluster design.

Ayana may be a master of the shadows, but Ereban: Shadow Legacy wilts in the face of overwhelming light.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy attempts a number of ambitious stealth-action components but fails to come out from the shadows with basically any of them intact. A predictable story, underwhelming level design and more bugs than a forest log blunt this assassin’s blade. If Ayana’s journey is the first step in mastering the darkness, I hope a sequel can turn off the blinding lights.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy is available now for PC via Steam (review platform) and Epic Games Store.

Developer: Baby Robot Games
Publisher: Baby Robot Games

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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