May 12, 2024

Dark vs Light, who wins? Will this new Stealth Indie shine, or be overshadowed by its shortcomings? Find out in our Ereban: Shadow Legacy review!

Ereban: Shadow Legacy feels more like platformer than stealth, more Splatoon than Aragami. The moments you’re slinking around literally inside the shadows feel great mechanically, however the game never challenges you enough to make it work in its favour. Baby Robot Games‘ debut title stumbles at the starting line but manages to catch its footing as the story progresses with some diverse environments, an intriguing premise, and strong performances from the cast throughout.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy Review – Story

The narrative in Ereban: Shadow Legacy never gets its chance to fully shine. Beginning the game, our protagonist Ayana comes to a large, overbearing facility to learn more about the Ereban, a forgotten race of shadowmancers of which she is seemingly the last. After learning more about Helios, the mega entity and eventual antagonistic force in the game, meeting the AI that runs everything and running through some training exercises – Ayana is betrayed and captured, barely escaping with the aid of a mysterious resistance fighter.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review flashback cutscene

Gorgeous flashbacks are littered along the campaign.

Ayana herself starts out a little edgy and generic, however she grew into a likeable and interesting character by the end of the story. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, we never get to learn anything substantial about our protagonist. She is written as cynical and sassy yet is shown to be naïve through her choices throughout the campaign and the only set motivations that drive Ayana forward is the knowledge she seeks. There isn’t enough character development to properly appreciate the protagonist.

The others Ayana interacts with are rarely fleshed out, leaving the entire cast of characters feeling quite shallow. To the voice cast’s credit however, the performances on display are enjoyable and maybe one of Ereban’s only saving graces when it comes to its characters. Most of the enemies in-game are stiff, unremarkable murder bots working for the big bad conglomerate, Helios.

There are a bunch of diary entries to be read around the world, each giving a little snippet of what the world was and is. I enjoyed finding each of these and listening to what each one had to say, the same cannot be said for side quests, however. Although adding a little bit of variety to the regular gameplay, the side quests have little narrative payoff. This made them feel like more of a time waster than something worthwhile wandering off for.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review stealth kill

Killing humans lowers Ayana’s morality, affecting the ending of the campaign.

Around two-thirds of the way through the story, Ayana is faced with a moral quandary. Instead of the soulless guard-bots that Ayana has faced up to now, there are actual humans that are scattered around amongst the ranks. Killing these people lowers Ayana’s morality level, and once you’ve gone and done it your soul is stained for eternity, meaning that replaying the level as a pacifist won’t change your morality (until you choose another save file).

This all culminates in a finale that really didn’t make sense to me. The player has a choice to make, with three different possible endings. The aforementioned morality system determines which choices are presented to the player. If you end up killing every Helios employee you see, then expect the bad ending. Confusingly, if you remain angelic and harm not a hair on a human’s head – you are given the free will to choose that same ending, going against everything Ayana has accomplished thus far.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy Review – Gameplay

The main gimmick of Ereban: Shadow Legacy is Ayana’s innate ability to sink into shadows, allowing her to remain completely hidden provided no light is shone upon her, and she that she doesn’t run out of stamina. It also allows her to climb walls, adding an extra dimension to play with. This gameplay built around this mechanic is fantastic!

Enemies are equipped with flashlights that can create an oppressive environment to navigate when close by, forcing the player to react quickly to any sudden movement or risk being ejected from whatever surface they’re currently hiding inside. The gadgets and powers that Ayana possesses aid the player in everything from stunning and blinding foes, to hiding bodies to prevent detection.

While there are a small variety of enemy types that stand in Ayana’s way, I never felt like any posed more of a threat than the simple grunt droid. The only exerted pressure I felt was when there was a larger volume of threats in a confined area, otherwise it was easy to navigate around small groups due to unsophisticated enemy AI and simplistic patrolling loops. There is also a lack of proper consequence when failing a mission, with levels rife with checkpoints leaving the only thing to be lost is a small amount of progress and a lower letter ranking at the end of the stage.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review Ayana hiding in shadows

Will Ayana destroy the tools of Helios or skate by unnoticed?

This lack of tension is compounded by the strength of Ayana’s default ability. The difficulty of Ereban is unbalanced, never calling for the use of your additional gadgets or talents and requiring you to recharge them with resources found around the world felt. I felt discouraged from using anything but the base tools at my disposal, meaning that during my first playthrough, I had only used a first level radar ping I unlocked at the start of the game and my shadow merge power.

Where the stealth failed in this regard, the platforming ended up shining. Most of the areas in the campaign are large and open, with a swath of verticality built into the surroundings – this allows for a lot of freedom of movement around the world and creates some great platforming moments. Environmental elements can cast shadows on walls, allowing Ayana to sink into its silhouette and traverse over obstacles that can’t be climbed traditionally. I had the most fun solving platforming puzzles; moving flying drones into just the right place to block a shining light that was previously preventing me from moving further, racing to stay in the safety of a windmill blade’s shadow as it turns in the breeze.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy Review – Visuals

Ereban: Shadow Legacy features a variety of locations Ayana pushes through, ranging from an abandoned urban district devoid of any civilian life to a gigantic, ominous factory built underground with massive moving parts. These areas play beautifully with the contrasting light and shadows, enhanced by the game’s cell-shaded aesthetic. The game does a great job creating a space that is antithetical to our own in the real world, light becomes something to fear and avoid, while the player feels comfortable and safe in the shadows.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy visuals graphics

Environmental storytelling gives a jarring juxtaposition between Helios’s robust corporate industrial sites, and anything that lies outside that – including the derelict shacks located in the desert and the forsaken, ghostly cities. There’s an air of eeriness among the world as it has been harvested and left for dead in pursuit of some clandestine purpose. Dead air permeates once populated places, temples covered in graffiti and overgrown with plant life. Ereban does well to build its world through its visuals, toying with the themes of light and darkness.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy environment graphics

Signs of resistance from those who were driven from their homes.

Visual indicators and signposting were almost always clear during gameplay, I can only recall a single time I felt lost in the game due to wandering too far off for a collectible. Using the sonar ability grants even more information on screen, making routes easier to plot and helping with anything players might miss.

Character design isn’t one of Ereban: Shadow Legacy’s highlights, however I couldn’t help but love Ayana’s look. While I would have loved to see more than the two outfits she wears in the campaign – the intricate detail and contrasting elements of her clothing looked great, fitting as she is in the middle of the screen for 99% of the game.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy Review – Audio

As previously said, the voice acting of the cast is all beautifully done, especially Ayana. Cissy Jones does a fantastic job with her character, making Ayana likeable with so much life and attitude. Listening to her in cutscenes was a genuine highlight for me as I played through – and coming up to the finale I felt such passion behind the performance.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review talking with npc

The voice cast do a terrific job of giving the main characters life.

A reactive soundtrack gives Ereban: Shadow Legacy life, with a subtle techno-beat soundtrack and atmospheric ambience, the beginning of the game allows the player to focus stealth while infiltrating the enemy territory. Towards the climax of the story however, the music picks up – giving a mood of energy and urgency whilst running through gauntlet in the heart of Helios.

Ereban can get very overwhelming at times, especially when using Ayana’s sonar. Depending on the number of times this ability is upgraded, the player can detect enemies, collectibles, power ups, and mission clues. The unfortunate side to all of this is that each one has a unique ping or beep whenever sonar is used, bombarding the player’s senses every single time. When in a tense situation that requires stealth and awareness of your surroundings, this can hamper gameplay significantly.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy Review – Extras/Post-Game

For the perfectionists and completionists out there, there are a few extra challenges that players can take on. With each level being scored with a Letter ranking, counting enemy alerts, kills, and player deaths – and featuring a “Ghost”, “Ruthless”, and “Merciful” medal that can be achieved through total stealth, total annihilation, and total pacification respectively. There are several upgrades to collect, and a special item that unlocks the ultimate version of the player’s gadgets and abilities for completing the specific side mission for that stage.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy review letter ranking

Each chapter ends with performance report for all of your bragging purposes.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy Review – Conclusion

As a stealth game, Ereban: Shadow Legacy rarely satisfied me, never pushing me to use anything but bare minimum effort to complete a level. The game holds stronger as a platformer with interesting and engaging environmental puzzles, however that isn’t quite enough to save it.

While the themes of light and dark work well, the story never felt fully actualized and the morality near the latter half was half-baked – exemplified in an ending with little narrative payoff. I’d love to see more from this world despite everything, I find it intriguing and would enjoy a more fleshed out story with slightly more challenging gameplay.

So, why you should play Ereban: Shadow Legacy?

  • Simple gameplay with little setbacks on failure
  • Incredible world building that deserves to be seen

But why shouldn’t you play Ereban: Shadow Legacy?

  • Unbalanced difficulty, providing little challenge during stealth gameplay
  • Several elements surrounding the story offer little narrative payoff

A review code was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our Ereban: Shadow Legacy review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our stealth game reviews and join us over on the Qualbert Discord to chat with our community about the latest releases!

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