We went along to the PC Gamer Weekender where we met Jake Birkett and Helen Carrnichael from Grey Alien Games and spent a while chatting to them about their new game, Shadowhand.
Shadowhand is a solitaire-style card game combined with a turn-based RPG battling system. It shares many of its elements with collectible card games and also incorporates a historical novel that develops across its twenty-chapter duration. Set in England in the 1770s, this game tells the story of Lady Darkmoor, a charming young aristocrat by day and notorious highwaywoman by night.
Fans of Regency Solitaire will be pleased to hear that Shadowhand appears to have been created as a forty-year prequel to Regency Solitaire, featuring a young Lady Fleetwood and her misspent youth. However, Grey Alien Games have really shaken up the story and have moved away from the romantic undertones of Regency Solitaire, instead throwing players into a rougher plot in a wilder atmosphere. With Lady Darkmoor, players will be stepping away from polite society, duelling with fearsome foes and breaking the law to uncover the truth in a captivating whodunit.
So, as Lady Darkmoor, you and whichever enemy you happen to be duelling with at the time will both be playing the same level of solitaire. As Jake mentioned in our interview, this makes the game feel more like ‘duelitaire’ – a style of play that has never been done before. There are many other elements that make Shadowhand look very promising, too. There are one hundred and twenty collectible cards to discover and hold in your inventory. By looting enemies that you have defeated you will also have the opportunity to collect various items, costumes and weapons. Other than looking incredibly authentic and historically accurate, these all have really important roles in the game, too! Feel like sporting a beard and an Olive Cloak? Or maybe a Ruffled Shirt and some Spanish Sleeves tickles your fancy? The choice is up to you – just bear in mind that each item of clothing has its own defensive properties and will double as your armour against enemy attacks.
Players can also collect special ability cards which, when used, will influence the game in some way. For example, if you pick the Charging Stallion, a horse will charge across the screen and remove a few cards. This introduces the deck-building element of Shadowhand that becomes increasingly more important as you learn more about how to strategise in the game. You will only be able to take three of your special ability cards into a duel so you’ll have to decide which cards suit your style of gameplay in each round. Passive ability cards have also been included and these are specifically tailored to support individual styles of gameplay. One of the passive abilities that we found particularly interesting gave you the ability to look at some of your opponent’s cards in advance, giving you an advantage. Jake and Helen are also currently working on integrating a system where you will be able to gain XP to level up your character and manage your stats to affect gameplay. This level of depth and customisation seems like it’s really going to make the most of the RPG elements that Shadowhand has to offer. This hybrid of genres guarantees a unique experience that hasn’t been seen anywhere else. Although this game is in the style of solitaire, it has been greatly modified, putting a greater emphasis on the detailed story and RPG elements.
We didn’t get a chance to play Shadowhand for very long at PC Gamer Weekender, but Jake and Helen did walk us through some of the demo and answered some of our questions about the game. What we can say is that we are incredibly excited about Shadowhand and what it has to offer. The thought of a story-driven, collectible card game with a turn-based RPG battling system may sound like a bit of a mouthful, but we are dying to see more of how all of those elements work together. We also really appreciated the fact that Jake and Helen have done so much research into life in Eighteenth Century England and admire the fact that all of the apparel, weaponry and to some extent, characters in Shadowhand are historically accurate.
Shadowhand does not currently have a confirmed release date however; we have been told that it will be released on Steam for PC and Mac, hopefully in May this year.
Check out our swashbuckling interview with Jake and Helen to hear more about Shadowhand and to see me sporting a rather lovely pirate hat.
Most Anticipated Feature: Teaming up with other criminals to see how that affects the story.