I have nearly 500 games in my Steam account, and the vast majority of them are still unplayed. So now I'm dedicating an hour to each of these games and writing a series of One Hour Reviews.
One Hour Reviews - Game 4
Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
Purchase Date: 5/22/2014
I got this game, along with the original Age of Wonders in a Humble Bundle. I didn't warm up very well to the original, so my hopes were not very high for this one. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that none of the things that annoyed me about the original game are present here.
I jumped right into the tutorial. Compared to the original, the tutorial in this game is vastly improved. The tutorial, like the original, starts by covering the basics of movement around the map and claiming resources, but then proceeds into a lot more detail. I felt like I had a much better sense of what my options were and what I needed to be doing.
When I played the first Age of Wonders, I actually had to restart the tutorial because I died. What I appreciated about Shadow Magic is, it gave me a good sense of the difficulty right off the bat, but I didn't have to start the entire tutorial over. The very first fight I got in, a giant beetle ended up stomping my entire party. But the tutorial was written to expect this, so rather than having to start over, the tutorial used this experience as a teaching lesson on what to expect. I really appreicated that.
The graphics in Shadow Magic are better, but that is to be expected given the length of time between the games. I didn't care for the animations in the original, but here the units move more naturally. Also the game provided all the resolution choices I'd expect to see. I played at 1920x1080, and didn't have any problems with menus or reading text.
The actual gameplay itself seemed much like the same turn-based strategy from the original Age of Wonders, which itself brought back memories from the old Heroes of Might and Magic games. I have a feeling that I'd probably enjoy the original more now that I've played this tutorial and have a better grasp of the game.
The only thing that really annoyed me about Shadow Magic happend when I was trying to back out of a command that I was issuing to my party by hitting the escape key. This brought me out to the main menu. I then hit the Continue button, except this command will actually load your last saved game. I didn't have any save games yet so it ended up not doing anything. I wanted to resume my game, so I hit escape again thinking it would close the menu and take me back into the game, but instead it dumped me out to the desktop. And thus, my review ended about 8 minutes early.
I really didn't expect to like this game given my impression with the original. So in this case I am glad to be wrong. I'm looking forward to coming back and spending more time in the campaign.
Overall Recommendation: Keep