Card-RPG Shadowhand shuffles into release

Shadowhand

Shadowhand from Regency Solitaire developer Grey Alien Games is out now, offering a unique blend of card-battling and corsets. You can take a deeper look at the game below via a short Making Of video, featuring half of the husband & wife duo behind the game in a fetching tricorne hat.

The game aims to blend Magic: The Gathering-style card battling with equal parts solitaire and RPG-style fine-tuning of equipment and character builds, with the latter directly reflected in your deck composition in a way similar to the excellent Card Hunter. One minor complaint that I have heard is that if you’re unlucky on the solitaire side of things, combat can slow down with neither combatant able to do much, but this seems to be a relatively rare event. We’ll have a review with first-hand thoughts from Brendan next week.

In practice the game alternates between pure solitaire ‘puzzle’ levels where you attempt to clear the board of cards with the aid of some special character abilities, and the more RPG-like combat stages, where you try to clear the board to charge up your attacks and whittle away at your opponent’s health bar. In the video above, you can see just how much time and attention has gone into the fine-tuning of the game, with custom AI routines allowing for brute-force testing of scenarios to determine what skills may be overpowered.

Shadowhand is available on Steam, GOG and Humble or direct from the developers for around £11.39/$15, minus whatever initial discounts are on offer. The developer notes that due to Steam restrictions, it’s not allowed to participate in the Winter sale, so the current 10% launch-week discount is the best it’s going to get for now.

12 Comments

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    johannsebastianbach says:

    I’ve been playing it for a few hours already and I’m glad to report that it’s excellent. The gameplay is fun and surprisingly varied, the art is quite good and it actually has an intriguing story and great writing (!). Sure, there’s RNG involved in the duels, but I don’t find it too annoying. Looking forward to your review!

    • Moogie says:

      I had the opposite experience. The interface and graphics remind me of those mobile f2p games, and I found the RNG obnoxious. This is one of those games where if the first 1-2 turns doesn’t go your way, you know you’ll be wasting your time trying to meet the objectives unless you hit restart. It’s a neat idea, but it feels horribly imbalanced and a bit shallow.

      The writing is… flowery, to put it kindly, and the story is forgettable at best. I mostly skimmed it after the high-society noble lady protagonist immediately left her old life behind to become a bandit who has no qualms murdering innocent people.

      • armaankhan says:

        I have to agree. I normally love this sort of game, but the duels were just too tedious for me to bear. Hopefully they balance it so that enemies go down a bit easier so the battles become less drawn out.

      • RaraAvis says:

        I’m kind of in between – in general I really like the game, but I definitely feel the pain of the randomness, especially in duels. The game seems to want to make the duels tough (which is fine in theory) by giving the enemies lots of health, defense, and good weapons. The problem is that your fights become a slave to randomness. A few bad draws or bad card arrangement and you’re done. In addition once the card layout gets down to a few cards it’s just endless card draw for you and your opponent. Anyway, I enjoy the game but I am hoping there is some adjustment and balancing done for the duels.

        • Jake Birkett says:

          (Dev here) We are adding relaxed mode in a day or so which will make the duels easier and skippable. Also there will be more balancing tweaks down the road. Ultimately though it’s using an randomly shuffled pack of cards, so RNG is naturally a factor.

  2. caff says:

    That video is excellent – really down to earth, and shows how much they both care about the project and polishing the game. I remember Grey Alien Games on the Blitz forums when I used to mess around with Blitz3D – he’s a nice chap always willing to help other indies – so it’s fascinating to see how far he & his wife have come with both the language itself and games development in general.

  3. Daiz says:

    Speaking of card RPGs, RPS should really do an Early Access look at Slay the Spire – it’s basically a roguelite dungeon crawler (you move from spot to spot on a map similar to eg. FTL) with card-based combat. Very playable in its current state and honestly just tons of fun. I had to buy it after watching someone on YouTube play it for a while because I was itching to give it a spin myself and my first play session ended up lasting for six hours.

    • caff says:

      Cheers, will keep an eye on that. If you’re after a very good alternative, I can highly recommend Card Quest link to store.steampowered.com don’t be fooled by the pixel graphics, it plays beautifully and is very addictive.

  4. Kefren says:

    This was an instabuy for me. I loved Regency Solitaire, and my mother became addicted to it – it overtook hidden object games for her. :-) I’ll start playing it when I finish SR4.

  5. Avioto says:

    Been playing for a while now and I am enjoying it, but it’s got some issues. There’s way too much RNG involved and very little skill, the position of the cards can be annoying (lots of horizontally placed cards, never a good idea) and the writing is downright awful. Definitely not as polished as something like Hand of Fate, but fun nonetheless.

  6. SuddenSight says:

    I want to note a couple this:
    1) The shuffle and deal sound effects are fantastic.
    2) I have mixed feelings about the RNG. I have played some normal solitaire and (as far as I can tell) blind luck is very much a thing there. The game is mostly about marginal improvements within a very luck-based and sometimes opaque game system. So I honestly think this game’s RNG isn’t too surprising.
    3) However, I definitely think the game has issues with the difficulty curve. The first couple stages all ramp up to the final boss, suggesting that I should conserve all of my resources (most of which have long cooldowns or are one-use) in preparation for the last “hand” of the stage. However, many of the later stages don’t follow this curve. Sometimes this makes sense thematically (as with the dueling trainer, which is a series of 3 battles of increasing difficulty) while sometimes it doesn’t (in an early fight against smugglers, the battle against a random smuggler goon ended up more difficult for me than the final battle against the captain). This makes it hard to judge what to do.

    Compounding (3), if you use up your resources early only to run into a more difficult fight, your only options are to restart the entire stage (which typically means replaying 5-8 games of solitaire) or restart the current fight repeatedly until you get lucky enough to win (I ended up doing this in the 3rd of the 3 dueling trainer fights).

    I think (3) is actually my biggest issue with the game. I started the game on hard, but knocked it down to normal after seeing those problems and I definitely recommend playing it on normal. I would also point out that the game has a “restart current hand” button in the menu and I found the game much more enjoyable once I was willing to repeatedly restart the current hand until I drew a decent start.

    • Jake Birkett says:

      (Dev here) Thanks for your thoughts. Yes using Restart is a good idea sometimes. Also we are just about to add a relaxed mode (easier duels and you can skip them), plus there will be some more balancing soon that mean retrying a duel will slightly charge up your abilities (and more stuff too).