Shadowbound is a 2D fantasy-themed turn-based MMORPG from R2Games that features a huge roster of mercenaries that players can recruit and collect to assist them in battle.
Release Date: July 8, 2014 (International)
Pros: +Good mercenary system. +Puzzle based dungeons. +Lots of content.
Cons: -Auto battle system makes combat feel unrewarding. -Pay-to-win elements.
Save the world from the evil powers that threaten it in Shadowbound, a 2D MMORPG with a classic fantasy theme. Choose from three classes, each with different playing styles, from the arcane magic of a Mage, the overwhelming strength of a Warrior, to the striking precision of a Hunter. Recruit your own band of mercenaries and equip them for battle to help you overcome challenging opponents, complete quests, and explore puzzle-based dungeons. Master the use of complex battle formations to outwit enemies and dominate the battlefield.
Shadowbound Key Features:
- Three Playable Classes – Warrior, Mage, and Hunter.
- Auto Combat Feature – essentially plays the game for you.
- Mercenaries – players can recruit mercenaries to fight for them.
- Turn-Based Combat – unit formation plays a key role.
- Puzzle-Based Dungeons – complete to receive valuable loot and resources.
Shadowbound Featured Video
By Toan Layne
Shadowbound is a free-to-play (F2P) fantasy browser-based MMORPG game developed and published by Reality Squared Games, also known R2games, a company known for their free-to-play browser games. The game was released for Microsoft Windows on July 8, 2014 and is also available on Facebook.
Shadowbound lets players pick from three character classes that suit their strategy and playing style. Each character changes the story of the game a bit which adds replay value to the game. The game features one of the simplest character creation processes I’ve seen in a MMORPG, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Character creation involves ticking a radio button to select gender, check-boxes for classes, and a field to type in the character name, all in one tiny dialog box. No fancy artwork or even a hint of a graphic.
Players start the game in the mythical kingdom of Hazelgrove. They will be asked to clear the area of demons and save Lilac, a scantily-clad woman in chains. Once rescued, Lilac will stick around to help you in battle as your first mercenary, similar to the Final Fantasy Eidolons. Players will then be sent to the kingdom of Shadowbound to continue the rest of their journey. The game’s graphics are typical of Chinese-made low budget MMORPG’s including flashy graphics and environments. The sounds are also nothing special and would be better off on mute, in my opinion.
The Journey Begins
Like most MMORPGs, players are given a variety of quests that reward them with new abilities, units, and resources. In the early stages of the game, the quest dialogues contain important information on various gameplay features. Take time to read these texts to save yourself from a whole lot of headaches later on. The game also has an auto-pathing feature that automatically takes characters to the required NPC with a click of a button. Aside from quests, players can also go on dungeon-runs that offer more valuable rewards and resources. These come in the form of solo dungeons and elite dungeons made specifically for multiplayer party raiding.
Combat in Shadowbound is turn-based and features a formation system that gives players control on which units to place front and center so they can absorb most of the beating, great for tanks and melee damagers, or which ones to deploy in the relative safety of the second line. Unfortunately, this is all a player does during combat. Combat proceeds automatically with each side exchanging blows until one side is eliminated which is just plain disappointing. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned RPG combat?
Leveling, on the other hand, is pretty fast-paced and gear are easy to come by. By the time players reach the level 25-30 mark, they would have already acquired decent equipment. The game, however, involves a lot of grinding especially towards the later parts of the game which can easily be solved by purchasing a VIP subscription using real money. VIP status grants players experience bonuses as well as a bunch of free gear to make leveling up that much faster if you’re willing to spend a little extra cash.
The Life of a Mercenary
Shadowbound allows players to recruit a variety of forces to boost party strength and help them complete dungeons and quests. Recruiting mercenaries is one of the game’s key gameplay features and is available right from the start of the game. Players can recruit from a huge roster of mercenaries and can have up to eight mercenaries in their party at a time. Mercenaries assist a player in battles and can be equipped with gear from the character’s inventory to make them stronger. Every time a new mercenary is recruited, the mercenary’s card is added to the player’s collection within the Mercenary Card System, a feature that allows players to view all the mercenaries in the game and the ones that have already been recruited.
Players can test their strength and skills against other players in the Arena. Participating in Arena matches rewards players with Honor Points that they can use to purchase stronger equipment that may help win succeeding PvP matches. Players battle each other for positions in the Arena Leaderboards. Players in the top spots are given Honor Point bonuses that last as long as they hold on to the coveted top positions.
Diamonds are a Player’s Best Friend
Diamonds are the premium currency in ShadowBound and are acquired by purchasing them using real money. While players are not required to spend their hard-earned cash, they can to make life just a little bit easier. Diamonds are used to purchase premium items from the cash shop such as, equipment, Talismans, and items to speed up cooldowns. Talismans are artifacts used to unlock rare skills needed to make a player’s journey through the game world easier. The ability to use Talismans are unlocked once players reach level 38. Aside from purchasing them using Diamonds, players are given a free basic Talisman every 24 hours and an Advanced Talisman every three days. Every Talisman gathered or sold also rewards players with Talisman points which can be traded for Talismans by pressing the swap button. Players willing to spend cash on Diamonds have an enormous advantage in Shadowbound's PvP, making the game largely pay-to-win. Those familiar with other R2 titles like Stormthrone, Summoner's Legion, and Nova Genesis shouldn't be too surprised by the pay-to-win mechanics, as most Chinese developer browser-based MMORPGs feature similar cash shop antics.
Final Verdict - Fair
Shadowbound is a typical low budget MMORPG that look, sounds, and feels a lot like other Asian-made browser MMORPGs. The puzzle-based dungeons add a bit of challenge to an otherwise simple and easy game which is made even easier by the auto-path, not to mention the auto-combat, feature. The mercenaries, as well as the card system, are a nice touch and can keep players hooked for a while. Overall, it’s a game that I would probably play if I’m bored in the office but not something I would recommend for hardcore gamers. Still, it doesn't require much attention and can be played casually on the side.
Shadowbound System Requirements
Operating System: XP / Vista / 7 / 8
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Equivalent
Video Card: Any Graphics Card (Integrated works well too)
RAM: 512 MB
Hard Disk Space: 100 MB (Cache)
Shadowbound is a browser based MMO and will run smoothly on practically any PC. The game was tested and works well on Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox and Chrome. Any modern web-browser should run the game smoothly.
Shadowbound Additional Information
Platforms: Web (browser) and Facebook
Release Date: January 21, 2015 (Worldwide)
Development History / Background:
Shadowbound was developed by Chinese game developed R2Games and published globally through their R2Games portal. Shadowbound is a turn-based strategic MMORPG with 2D graphics.