I’ve long since abandoned looking through Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms for games that I want to fund. Part of it is burnout on the whole concept, with many of the titles I was really excited about either fail to see the light of day or not deliver on their core promise at all. To be sure, there’s been a few standout hits amongst that but I’ve lost all faith in the starry eyed aspirations that a Kickstarter page promises. I’ve also spent a lot of time in Kickstarter games that got released just to close out that whole process, hoping to graduate to “real developer” status or move onto the next project. Such was the feelings I was getting when playing Ereban: Shadow Legacy as it had all the trimmings of a game that promised a lot but ran out of runway to make them a reality. Colour me shocked when I found out it wasn’t a Kickstarter darling, instead being the debut release of Baby Robot Games. Perhaps then the unfinished threads I saw scattered throughout the game were simply teething issues of a new studio and nothing more.

You are Ayena, the last of your kind: the Ereban. Your race has an affinity for the dark, able to disappear into the shadow and manipulate it to your will. The world was recently thrown into darkness, only to be saved by it from Helios. This benevolent corporate overlord has ensured that everyone has had the energy they need to survive for countless decades. They have summoned you to their headquarters to aid them in their cause, knowing that your race has the ability to manipulate matter in the darkness they believe you can assist them in further their good mission. Nothing could go wrong helping a giant, omnipresent corporation…right?

Ereban is cel shaded and it’s clear that a lot of effort was spent on the character models given the level of detail they have. However the same can’t be said for the environments, which are large barren wastelands of repeated assets devoid of any real detail. This becomes painfully apparent as you sneak your way through each of the levels, the characters standing out as highly detailed dolls in a lifeless background. This is what first led me to believe it was a Kickstarter game as I’ve played my share who’ve started out with dreams of big, expansive and detailed environments only to shelve the idea part way through but keep the same overall level design. That kind of feels like what’s happened here, there’s a desire for the worlds to be much bigger than they really are.

Ereban is a stealth platformer with it’s main mechanic being that you can travel through shadows. Your character can disappear into them and freely move about any surface which is covered in shadows. Apart from that it’s your typical stealth game, requiring you to navigate through a level without getting detected or going the other way: killing everything you can in your path. There are talents to unlock as well as a bunch of upgrades for certain abilities and gadgets. At the end of each run you’ll be scored based on your preferred playstyle, the game awarding higher scores if you stay true to a particular approach. Mechanically it’s a competent, if basic, game.

You’ll encounter most of the standard stealth tropes early on in the game, including waiting for enemies to path into a particular place, distracting them with sounds and using parts of the environment to your advantage. The levels are well thought out enough that multiple approaches are usually possible and, whilst you can’t directly engage in combat, taking out every single enemy in a level is absolutely something you can do if you want. Trouble is though, bar the score at the end of the level, there’s no real reason to do so. Taking out or avoiding enemies doesn’t reward or penalise you in any way and so, once I realised that, I quickly figured out you can basically just hoof it past a lot of things to get to the next level.

The upgrades and talents also feel pretty standard for a stealth game and are mostly focused on giving you new abilities to solve new puzzles. Some of the upgrades are definitely worth getting to improve your quality of life, like the scanner that shows all the collectibles (if you’re into that) whilst others are really only applicable to very specific playstyles. Even then though, given that the game has to rely on the fact that you don’t have any of those specific upgrades you’ll absolutely get by without them. This is because the talent tree has 2 main branches and you can really only max out one in any given playthrough. It’s possible the one I didn’t pick(non-lethal) is a bit more fun, but given how run of the mill all the upgrades I saw were I’m not counting on that.

Whilst it’s a trouble free experience for the most part the platforming experience doesn’t feel especially precise, especially when you’re in the shadow and the camera takes on a mind of its own. Some of the interactions feel a bit off too, either not registering when you think they should (I’m looking at you, sewer gates) or interacting in unexpected ways. It’s workable but certainly lacks the polish and precision I’ve come to expect from these kinds of stealth platformers.

I would’ve probably forgiven almost all these sins if the story was more compelling. I didn’t find myself resonating much with the main character and the plot, like much of the rest of the game, felt generic. This was wonderfully summed up when the good old Endotron 3000 showed up at the end and offered me a choice of 3 different endings, something which I honestly haven’t seen in quite some time. None of these appeared to be locked behind any special requirements either which felt weird considering the game offered you up a bunch of side quests and other optional objectives which could have easily functioned for that. It wasn’t terrible but the fact that I had to Google the main character’s name again probably says enough about that.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy is a competent stealth platform that suffers from many of the first game jitters that indie studios fall prey to. Their ambition clearly exceeded their grasp with the large environments that just feel like mostly dead space, begging for more content that couldn’t be fit within their budget. The mechanics, whilst executed well, are generic and their twist on the stealth parts isn’t enough to carry the rest of them. The narrative failed to grip me and made the trivial mistake of simply offering up 3 endings without making any of them earnt. All this being said I’ve seen much more debut titles from longer running studios so here’s for the sophomore title that avoids all these mistakes.

Rating: 6.5/10

Ereban: Shadow Legacy is available on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S right now for $36.50. Game was played on the PC with a total of 5.7 hours playtime and 40% of the achievements unlocked.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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