First Impression: Shores Unknown

Developer: Valynne

Release Date: 17 February, 2021 (EA)

Platform: Windows, Switch

Genre: Roleplaying Game

By Chris Picone, 27 December 2021

I was immediately intrigued by Shores Unknown - a new tactical game featuring some exploration and roleplaying elements. Low poly art’s a hard sell for me; I’m just not a fan. But while the style isn’t my cup of tea, I can appreciate anything done well, and Shores Unknown’s graphics definitely fits that category. I often found myself wandering around just enjoying the scenery and taking photos.

The game itself took a while to grow on me. At first I thought it seemed decent enough but a few of the early quests and story segments struck me as a little juvenile – not bad, just more befitting a younger audience. Once I got past the keep, however, the story really grabbed me by the balls and took me for a ride; I ended up playing through the first half of the game (~15 hours) in two sittings. As the story picks up, the characters flesh out nicely, and some neatly-integrated side quests really add to the depth of the game. There’s not a whole lot of choice & consequence but there's enough to leave you feeling like you're in control.

Initially the combat also seemed a little lacking but it isn’t, it just takes an adjustment in thinking, which is a good thing. You see, while the combat’s turn-based, there’s no grid and you have no way to control movement which makes it feel simplistic at first but as you gain new abilities and face new foes you build an appreciation for a subtly complex system that leads to some really fluid and intense fights.

The verdict? Shores Unknown is still very much in Early Access; right now, only half the game is available for play, but that’s still a solid 15-20 hours depending on how much time you spend doing side quests and mercenary missions. And, aside from the odd typo, it’s very polished. The art’s great (even with low poly!), the story’s full of tension and intrigue, and there are some truly memorable encounters. After my initial doubts I’ve found myself enjoying it immensely and can’t wait for the next instalment.