The Nintendo Switch has seen its fair share of mobile games ported over to the console over the years, with Towaga: Among Shadows the latest to make the move. It made quite an impression on gamers when it debuted on the Apple Arcade late last year thanks to its frantic gameplay and impressive visuals, but does it actually have the variety to be worth investing in when it isn’t available for free as part of subscription service?
Towaga: Among Shadows sees itsworld under threat thanks to a vicious villain known as Metnal, with hero Chimu the only one who can stop him and his hordes of horrible creatures by using the power of light to take them down. What does this mean? You’ll be shooting huge blasts of energy beams around, of course. In fairness, there’s a lot more to the tale than that with plenty of tid-bits of lore to be found throughout your adventure, but in the interest of keeping it short and sweet it’s a case of players saving the world.
Towaga: Among Shadows’ gameplay adopts a simple formula, with the player locked in the centre of the screen and tasked with blasting incoming enemies with an energy beam by using the right stick. You’ve got full 360-degree control of your energy beam, so it mostly feels like you’re playing a twin-stick shooter… except you just use one stick because you’re stationary. You’ll certainly have to be switched on and quick to react though, with enemies coming at you thick and fast from all directions and bringing a decent variety of attacks with them, meaning you’ve got to be strategic in your approach and make sure you pick off the enemies that are most likely to cause you harm as a priority. With some that fly, some that teleport, and some that explode when near though, there are plenty of threats to be faced that can cause a swift death.
The main campaign is made up of forty-two different levels, with each consisting of a phase of enemies to face off against. Whilst that seems like a big amount to work through, it shouldn’t take players much longer than a couple of hours – thankfully, there’s an additional hard mode to play through known as ‘The Void’ and two different survival modes to unlock too, so there’s a decent amount of single player content on offer inthe game.
Whilst you’ll be using your energy beam as your main form of attack in Towaga: Among Shadows, you’ll also unlock six different spells that can really help you out when surrounded by enemies. Each brings with them something unique, with the player able to use them to unleash energy blasts, freeze enemies in place, or even absorb HP to name a few, though you are restricted to only being able to equip one spell at a time. This seems like a bit of an odd design choice, especially since each spell can be effective against specific enemy types and using a mixture of them all would offer a more fun way to approach the game.
You’ll also earn shards as you progress through the game that allow you to improve your capabilities in various ways. This can be with your main stats with the player able to increase things like their HP, their beam damage, or beam width, or even your spells to make each one more powerful and effective. It adds a neat element of progression to the game that allows you to develop your skills further the more you play.
Whilst the stationary beam shooting levels make up most of Towaga: Among Shadows’ single player experience, there are occasions where you’ll take to the skies and fly around shooting enemies in what feels like a more traditional twin-stick shooting experience. These levels add a little bit more excitement to the game, especially since you’ll have the added buzz of having to weave in and out of enemies as you obliterate them with your beam, but they come with the caveat that you can’t use any of your spells during them. Still, they break up the pace of the game a bit and change up the basic formula of simply staying in one spot and shooting.
The boss fights add a bit more strategy and variety to Towaga: Among Shadows too, with each challenging you to utilise your spells in different ways. Of course, the fact that gameplay mostly boils down to blasting around an energy beam does mean that they won’t change up the formula too much, but they do force you to think outside of the box as you slowly figure out each boss’ attack patterns and how best to exploit them in order to take them down.
Whilst I had fun playing through Towaga: Among Shadows, there’s no doubting that its gameplay cycle can get a little bit repetitive the further you progress. The boss battles and flying levels do spice things up a bit, but for the most part you’re doing the same things over and over as you blast enemies with your energy beam. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of consistency with their approach either, with most later levels simply seeing the screen fill with enemies and forcing you to constantly swirl around your right stick and hope for the best – it seemed to prioritise chaos over strategy, and it didn’t always make for an enjoyable gameplay experience. It certainly has its fun moments, but it could do with a bit more refinement and variety to ensure that levels don’t feel the same outside of a change of environment.
Speaking of environments, Towaga: Among Shadows does deserve a whole lot of praise for its visuals. Everything you see in the game feels enchanting in design, with a myriad of mystical and beautifully drawn locations to visit that really stand out in-game. The character designs and animations are on point too, with the visuals of Towaga: Among Shadows certainly one of the finest aspects of the game.
It’s also worth mentioning that Towaga: Among Shadows does offer a local multiplayer mode for players to face off against each other in, with support for up to four players. This plays like the flying sections and is all about blasting beams to try and defeat each other across an assortment of environments, all whilst the arena around you shrinks and inhibits your movement. It’s a fun little mode in fairness, though I haven’t spent too much time with it – it’s definitely worth checking out if you’ve got someone to play with, though.
Towaga: Among Shadows certainly has its exciting moments across its frantic energy beam blasting escapade, but a lack of variety can see the gameplay growing old fast. It seemed to prioritise chaos over strategy at times too, with the emphasis on filling the screen with enemies not always feeling fun in-game – even if it does ensure there’s a constant challenge to face.
Add to that some peculiar design choices such as only being able to equip one spell at a time and it becomes easy to see that Towaga: Among Shadows is far from perfect. There’s definitely enjoyment to be had with the game and the visuals are top notch, but the flaws and samey gameplay do mean that your fun with it might be a little short-lived.
Developer: Sunnyside Games
Publisher: Forever Entertainment, Noodlecake Studios
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC