Time for a confession: I’m not a Quake guy. I’m not a Quake guy to the point where I haven’t even played Quake. It was old hat by the time I was all in on video games and I chose the wonderful Unreal Tournament over Arena due to preferring better games. But here I am, intrigued and somewhat astounded by what modder Simon O’Callaghan has managed to do with the seventeen year old engine. Essentially, In The Shadows is a semi-conversion that adds a stealth system and whole new campaign to the aging beast, but it also hits some specific me-shaped buttons. Sneak past the break for a video and a little more in-depth explanation.
According to a mechanics post on ModDB, the system works like this: you’re invisible outside of detection ranges by monsters, but are incredibly fragile. Backstabs (with an axe) do critical damage, one-shotting most things. Your only other armament is a crossbow which can distract enemies or poison them, weakening those too strong to kill immediately. The first of our Ben-shaped excitement triggers is the secondary effect of the poison. Some enemies enrage under its effects, turning on their allies. This sort of in-fighting is one of my favourite things about the early Doom games and being able to trigger it in modern titles is a long-held dream.
Then we have the larger picture of building a stealth game in a fast-paced environment. Be it Deus Ex, Skyrim or Hitman, stealth has rarely been done quickly. It’s not a fault so much as a deliberate design decision to focus on suspense. But that’s left In The Shadows with a unique appeal that pulls on some favoured strings. The quick, soundless hops are ninja-like and the fast speed allows enemies to be dodged more easily. I feel you’ll never be bored waiting for a guard to pass or slowly creeping around unknown areas. It’s a stealth system for the Meat Boy crowd who want speed and quick resets over intense planning.
Having only recently restarted work on the mod, Simon doesn’t seem to have a planned release date. A demo version was made available late last year, but it’s significantly out of date according to the latest news post. Still want more? There’s a whole host of videos over here.