Shadowland Online – Review

Shadowland Online -build and conquer the world!

On Friday, September 14th, Shadowland Online was launched by GameSamba.  A quick summary of the game, from their website:

A social strategy game set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world. Developed by ZQ Games, Shadowland Online challenges players to assemble mighty armies and defeat the legions of the undead. Form strategic alliances with other players and travel through time to recruit legendary heroes like Hannibal and Spartacus to crush enemy alliances and conquer the invaders. Ossanal and his undead forces have invaded God’s continent through a dark rift. Human rulers of the land have been massacred, leaving the once prosperous empire in shambles. All that remains of the human empire are the three remnant races. Scattered refugees in their own land, the humans found a fragment of the long lost Eloi gem of the Elfen fairies, and harnessed its power to construct the Gate of Ages, a portal which allowed the humans to search far and wide across time and space to obtain additional Eloi fragments and legendary heroes to empower their forces against the encroaching Ossanal.

 Combining elements of empire-building with strategic warfare and diplomacy, Shadowland Online offers an expansive world with massive battles in which players start with a small city and build up to an entire region controlled and defended with the help of allies. A unique time travel feature allows the dark fantasy world to intersect with real ancient history and lets players fight alongside legendary heroes. Mini games such as farming, mining and exploration are an integral part of the social gaming experience. 

Shadowland Online town example - all that gaming stuffIt was quite easy to join Shadowland Online.  Once you first join, you choose a character among rather classic elements (merchant, noble, tribal, then fighter, rider, or mage, to simplify) and then go through a LENGTHY introduction process.  It’s a pretty well laid out world, so there is a need to introduce you to all the various elements – the town, the fighting, the farming, etc.  However, it took almost an hour to go through all of the elements with the “help” of the narrator, only to still feel like I had been taught very little.  It still took quite a bit of exploring and testing before understanding how the world works.  The other issue is that, during the introduction process, I managed to overfill both my treasury and my granary, but not have ways to spend the gold or use the food.  Also, the introduction causes you to spend all of your diamonds.  You don’t realize that this is a problem, until you start wondering how to get the diamonds that seem to be needed for everything – higher level equipment, shorter down times, etc.

And there’s the rub.  I realize that no “free” game is truly free.  At the simplest (like, say, Kingdom of Loathing) a game will ask for donations or sell goods in their store.  Others cover their games in ads.  Sambagames’ method is to purchase Samba credits, which can then be exchanged for diamonds to use within Shadowland Online.  This also explains why there is a gift card section in the Town Hall, which I couldn’t figure out the first time I played.  Currently, five dollars is worth 150 sambas.  Sixteen sambas equals three diamonds.  Doing the math, each diamond costs about eighteen cents.  However, there is some equipment in the game (well, as far as I’ve played) that costs 2,000 diamonds, or almost nine dollars.  No, that isn’t a lot.  But for someone who would like to play the game as a truly free one, it’s rather frustrating.

Overall, Shadowland Online is a fun game to play.  There is a lot to explore and do, and while waiting for the “cooldown” and battle times to be over, you can have the tab open in the background while working on other things online.  The graphics are pretty good, though not amazing.  It’s a game I’m sure I’ll be spending quite a few hours logged into over the next few months.

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