Shadows: Price for Our Sins piqued my interest as a Halloween-themed game released in February. It seems like odd timing, but for those of us who enjoy celebrating the ghoul-filled holiday, it's a nice mid-winter treat I couldn't resist... and at least this treat has zero calories.
Shadows: Price for Our Sins follows young Dylan and her high school friends to a party at the abandoned Stone Farm where they spent summers growing up. While playing what they think is an ancient board game, the group of kids unknowingly releases the imprisoned souls of the Stone family. Their captor, Lord of Darkness Samhain, is enraged and steals the souls of Dylan’s friends for revenge – luckily Dylan escapes thanks to her well-meaning worrywart of a mother who keeps calling her cell phone. Hey, as a new mom... I get it now... that's what mom's do... we worry. Deal with it.
Anyhow, now, Dylan must engage the help of the freed spirits of the Stone family in order to save her friends.
The high-definition graphics and crisp animation are well done, and you are drawn into Dylan’s world as she travels to her friend’s party on a classically dark and stormy Halloween night. The details show leaves blowing in the wind and dust kicked up as the car approaches the farm.
Upon arriving, Dylan is immediately thrown into the game as the player must complete a few short scenes before gaining entrance to the party. Once inside, the action begins as Dylan’s friends are suddenly swept into the Darkness and she begins her quest to save them.
The storyline is strong, though, I will admit, I was somewhat confused at the start. The cut scenes seem to dissolve into darkness leaving something of a mystery as to what is going on, but I suppose that is what provided me the motivation to continue. The first few scenes introduce a lot of characters, and I wasn’t sure how it would all come together, but I was intrigued enough to keep playing. Thankfully, as you advance, the story solidifies and objectives become a bit clearer.
The background music is reminiscent of a Tim Burton flick – engaging and suspenseful. Although, I appreciated the ability to adjust the volume levels for music, voiceovers, and ambient noise independently, so I could clearly hear the dialog without being overwhelmed by the swells of the soundtrack. The sounds are incredibly realistic – one scene includes a crying child, and I paused the game several times thinking my daughter had woken up in the next room.
Shadows: Price for Our Sins is not one monotonous HO scene after another, but there are 18 sprinkled throughout as you interact with found objects and scenes in order to advance. In Casual mode, sparkles will help guide you toward objects or areas to take a closer look. Not all objects are hidden in plain sight; some must be assembled by finding a few objects and putting them together. The scenes are well made and challenging but not frustrating. If you find yourself losing patience, hints are readily available and refresh quickly (about 30 seconds in Casual mode, 1 minute in Expert).
A map provided at the start of the game helps to guide you around the farm and makes moving between scenes easier – as there are 35 quest scenes, I found this tool essential. The map will also indicate which areas still have play left so you are not wasting your time interacting with a scene that has been fully explored. The play is not linear but requires multiple trips between scenes to gather all of the objects needed to unlock other scenes and advance. I found that makes it more challenging as you discover a new object and realize it can be used in a different part of the property to reveal yet another object or puzzle.
The puzzles, like the HO scenes, are challenging but fell short of driving me crazy. The first few are actually quite simple and I completed them pretty quickly without too much trouble. If you don’t have the patience to solve all 30 of them, use the hint button to reveal the solution.
The only negative I could find was the poor dialog, which was honestly straight out of a B movie. It reminded me of those classic scenes from awful horror films where the girl goes into the dark basement alone while trying to escape a maniacal killer.
I was also slightly put off by the opening scene, which depicts Dylan talking on her cell phone while driving – ummm.... not really the behavior we want to encourage in our teenagers!
Aside from those minor annoyances, I truly enjoyed Shadows: Price for Our Sins and consider it a must-play for hidden object enthusiasts who share a love for everything Halloween!