Bright Shadow Review
By MMOHut's Jaime Skelton
Bright Shadow is produced by Gamepot USA, who has also brought us Mir 2. The game is very much as it looks – a bright, happy, anime RPG. Unfortunately, it offers little in innovation for MMO players, but it does offer a moderately good localization and a few things that new players might find fun.
A World of Light and Shadows
Although there are more choices for character customization on the creation screen than many similar MMORPGs (with several options each for hair, face, skin color, eye color, and hair style), the basic look of characters is the same. Once you get your equipment on, any customization you’ve chosen is mostly unnoticeable.
There are four basic classes available currently in Bright Shadow: the Warrior, the Shaman (a healer), the Mage, and the Machinist (a ranged class.) As you may have noticed, these classes aren’t picked at character creation. Instead, your first class becomes available as a choice to you through a quest line at level 10, in which you must prove your virtues to join one of the Four Ancient Houses. You may notice that equipment and the skills panel indicates that there are more jobs and specializations beyond this, but they have yet to be implemented in Bright Shadow’s current state.
When you enter the world, you’ll have to walk through a very bright light to “the end of the tunnel,” as it were. Moving around is a matter of point-and-click interface – there is no WASD option, although there is an auto-move option in which your character will run whichever way you point. At the end, you’ll meet a person who will teach you a little about the lore of the game. Bright Shadow’s story tells of a group of creatures called the Umbra who feed only upon human suffering, and how four brave adventurers (whose houses you will join later) fought off thousands of them to lock them away. The Umbra are back, and it is your destiny to fight them.
The End of the Tunnel Looks Familiar
After speaking with the odd boy, you’ll be sent to a town center. Like World of Warcraft, quest givers will have an exclamation mark over their head if they have a quest, and a question mark to indicate a chance to turn in or progress a quest. The first few quests you’ll find available in town are all tutorials; they will teach you the basics of using the UI, vendors, and leveling and skilling up your character. Unfortunately, many of these tutorials may leave you confused – I remember the vendor tutorial saying that there was a weapon vendor, and a weapon vendor boss, and to be careful who I sold to because the weapon vendor traded only for himself. Huh?
Once you get past these tutorials – which will give you a few levels in experience and some gold – you can finally head out into the Trial Field to begin questing, and killing, in earnest. Unfortunately, the enemies are disappointing; for feeding off the suffering of human souls, they’re pretty cute. As you go about some of your first quests, you’ll find combat is really simple: click on an enemy to attack, and use your skills by placing them on the hotbar. Actually, the hotbar isn’t all that hot either; its default settings are the Function Keys (F1-F12), which are awkward enough to use in combat. Add to that the fact you must still target the enemy by clicking on it after you select the skill, and well, there’s your lackluster combat system. At least there’s an autoloot key (~) to make picking up items easier.
Speaking of skills: every character can learn up to 50 skills maximum; this includes upgrading skills to second, third levels, and so on. While you can unlearn skills, you must learn to balance skill points as you get into higher levels, as it’s very likely you won’t be able to master everything you want.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
So what’s different about Bright Shadow from any other MMO grind? There’s a special system in game called the Umbra Guide. Every Umbra in the game has a chance of dropping a special card upon death, which gets recorded in your Umbra Guide (much like a Pokédex). There are over 500 cards to collect, and multiples can be collected. Once in your Umbra Guide, some encyclopedic information about the Umbra will be registered, along with a viewable model. But there’s something more – each of these cards can be used for character enhancement through the Magic Square system. Here, cards can be used and combined to increase a player’s statistics. Put in the cards, hit the Usage button, and you’ll get the combined buff for a specific amount of time – in the case of the first level of a Magic Square, the buff lasts two hours. The cards disappear when you do this, however, so consider this buff carefully.
Of course, the Magic Square system also means that anyone who wants to be a thorough collector (or wants to stock up on buffs), is going to have to grind. In fact, you’ll start hitting the grind before you even reach level 10, which is a poor sign for those who don’t like to kill mobs endlessly. It’s not just a matter of getting items off quest mobs either; they actually have a decent drop rate. It’s a matter of getting from level to level, or even being able to complete some of the quests you have without risking death at every junction.
Back on the good side of perks, however, you can look forward to a very nice music track, and the ability to get a mount as soon as level 15. The game also seems generous with loot upgrades, as by the time I was ready to equip my character as a warrior, I only needed to purchase two items to complete my set; the rest I had found while questing.
Final Verdict: Good
Bright Shadow follows one of a few standard MMORPG formulas, so if you’re looking for something innovative, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you can stand the bright cheeriness of an anime-style world, including happy bounces and smiles from your character when idle, Bright Shadow offers enough of a new experience to keep you interested throughout the early game.
Pros: +Detailed card collection system. +Unique instance system. +Interesting soul power feature. +Crafting system. +High level cap 95+. +Great music.
Cons: -Looks very similar to other anime inspired games. -Interface could be better. -Clunky combat mechanics.