Shantae is not a new character, with her first game debuting back in 2002 for the Game Boy Color. Fast forward 2 decades and our lovely half-genie is back, with a colorful new adventure but still trying to look and feel like a retro experience of sorts. For that reason, this game is great for those in search of a cool platformer, with power-ups and metroidvania mechanics; aesthetically, though, it's far from having the best graphics of the genre... more so considering we're already in 2020 and there are a lot of amazing indie games.
What to Expect
Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a simple yet entertaining adventure, giving you around 8 hours of gameplay. After traveling to a paradisiac island, all the other half-genies who live there are kidnapped, and Shantae is the only one who can save them, not only with her own powers but borrowing some magic skills from the girls she rescues.
You'll be hair-whipping your way through the island while killing hordes of monsters, but you can throw some weapons or even do some magic dances too. There are several boss battles, there are some secret areas, and of course, there are a lot of platforms and doors you can't access without a specific item or skill. Simply put, Shantae and the Seven Sirens is an old-school platformer, and it's proud of it.
Ohh, the graphics... one of our problems with this game, to be honest. Of course, there's nothing wrong with being simplistic, but it's hard not to compare this game to other similar platformers available, and that's when you notice how important it is to have your own style. And no, we're not talking about overly detailed 3D environments or a hyperrealistic approach; just look at Ori and the Will of the Wisps or Hollow Knight, to name a couple. Maybe even Dead Cells.
Although the game looks nice when you're looking at specific screenshots, a lot of Shantae and the Seven Sirens' maps feel too empty, dull, and sadly, somewhat forgettable. In fact, not only the maps feel lacking, but also the UI. There are some beautiful avatars, sure, but all dialogue boxes feel boring and unfinished, and sadly, the same goes for the menus and some animations. To make it all worse, all the cutscenes look really good, and the opening movie is a brilliant animation courtesy of Studio Trigger, so it's harder to overlook all these things when you start with such a bang...
If the graphics are faulty, the sound department is the complete opposite. There are quite a lot of tracks that truly caught our attention while playing, like the ones that pump you up when fighting a boss or the lovely background music every time you visit one of the island's small towns. In addition to that, most dialogues have some voice lines to make them more appealing—because, again, they look awful— and Shantae even screams every time you use one of her skills! With all sound effects making it all come to life, and subtle use of voice acting, Shantae and the Seven Sirens' sound and music are a true gem.
The first thing you need to know about this game is that, if you know what you're doing, it's almost impossible to die. Of course, there are a lot of monsters trying to kill you, but at the same time, you can easily farm a lot of food; you only need to be careful and heal yourself every now and then. Why are we saying this? Well, a lot of people tend to associate metroidvania platformers with extreme difficulty, but Shantae and the Seven Sirens is the complete opposite: a lighthearted game with enough elements to make it challenging, but super easy for any experienced player.
Your objective is to save the rest of the half-genies inhabiting the island, unraveling a huge mystery with every new piece of information you get from Risky Boots and all the other villains. After saving one of these girls, you can borrow some of their magic for a new skill, and when you get them a specific item, you can get an extra ability—dance moves—by magic fusion. This means at the start of your adventure, there will be a lot of inaccessible areas and secret routes, but you only need to keep pushing forward until you get a specific technique to help you.
For the most part, this is an excellent piece of platforming, but sadly, we must say all bosses feel bland and excessively easy. All these boss' mechanics are predictable and easy to perform, so there's little to no sense of accomplishment after these fights, especially because there's only one solution to every enemy. So what's the point of all these other gameplay mechanics?
Your basic attack is the classic hair whip, but then you could also use a fireball, a rocket, or a boomerang. At the same time, by killing monsters you can find some collectible cards that grant you a specific bonus, like more powerful fireballs, reduced magic consumption, a faster boomerang, etc. In theory, this sounds like an interesting layer of customization and character building, but in reality, all these bonuses feel pointless and there are only one or two useful combinations.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
As you can tell, Shantae and the Seven Sirens is an OK-ish platforming game, following the same formula of the other titles in the franchise, with some quality of life improvements here and there. However, simplicity is not always the best option, and less is not always more. Truth be told, it feels like the skeleton of a modern video game, entertaining for a few hours but with nothing particularly new or exciting to bring to the table.
Simple yet enjoyable platforming.
Voice acting is a nice touch.
An amazing intro by Trigger!
Sometimes you may not know where to go, but that's just any metroidvania game. Other than that, it’s too easy and predictable...
The uncanny valley of its graphics.
Honey's Final Verdict:
If you're a fan of the franchise, then you'll enjoy every aspect of Shantae and the Seven Sirens. If you're looking for something different or modern, however, you'll be extremely disappointed. For what it's worth, we have to say this game was fun to play once we lowered our expectations, but it's hard to say it has anything to make you come back after finishing it.
Author: Yaz L.
Hey, there! I'm a soon-to-be marine biologist who just happens to love video games, dream pop music, and BL/yaoi stuff. When I was a kid, I lived in Colombia for 3 years and now I'm a sucker for hot chocolate with cheese. My favorite treat while watching anime!