Towaga: Among Shadows from Sunnyside Games Studios is an action-packed arcade-style shoot’em up adventure, where the player will feel like a true warrior with his kamehameha skill.
This title drinks inspiration from one of the most cliché clashes of all time, the fight of good against evil. In this case represented as the fight of the light against the darkness. Towaga was first released as exclusive to the Apple platform, however, it now sees the “light” of other horizons like Steam and Nintendo Switch.
The story begins when Towaga’s world finds itself threatened by Metnal the Voidmonger, in an attempt to bathe the entire territory in darkness. Chimù, our main character, is the only one with enough light power to defeat this threat and re-illuminate all the shrines that he previously swore to protect.
There are several game modes, all with the same premise of overcoming waves of enemies. The story mode starts right away with a very desirable cutscene that manages to grab the player either for its effects or for the whole design of the different characters. Both Chimù, his enemies, and all environments are excellent. This main campaign consists of forty-two different levels, each consisting of a phase of enemies to face. Although it looks like a considerable number of levels, each “Phase” is generally quite fast. In addition to this frantic gameplay there is the “Void Realm” mode which is considerably more difficult than the “Story” mode, the two “Survival” modes, and the local “Multiplayer” mode. The versus mode can be played by up to four players and sits perfectly on the Nintendo handheld console, as the game uses few buttons it is possible to split the Joy Cons pair. There is actually a fair amount of content to unlock and play.
In terms of gameplay Towaga Among Shadows adopts a very simple formula, with the player blocked in the center of the screen and charged with defending his position while cleaning waves of enemies that surround him as time passes. It is important to have quick reactions as enemies appear from all directions and in groups of various elements, bringing with them a wide variety of attacks. From enemies that fly, others that teleport and others that explode, a strategic approach is needed to ensure that enemies that do the most damage are the first to be eliminated.
While the levels at which the character is blocked in the middle of the screen make up the majority of the experience of this title, there are occasions when it is possible to control Chimù through the skies, with the premise of using only the beam of light as a weapon against enemies. These levels introduce something fresh to gameplay that can become a bit repetitive
As a main attack it is possible to control a beam of energy using the right analog stick and a magic skill with one of the triggers. It is possible to unlock up to six different spells that help a lot when you see yourself surrounded by enemies. Each has different mechanics: a protective shield that explodes for damage in the area, a bundle of ice that freezes enemies by touch or for example absorbs the enemies’ HP, to serve as example.
Adding to that, it is still possible to acquire shards as you progress through the game that allow you to improve various skills. On the table are the possibility to improve the character’s stats, such as more health bar, the damage of the beam of light, among others, or to improve the magical abilities making them more powerful.
Interestingly, what gave me the most pleasure was the survival mode. I always give priority to the story mode (when it exists), and just give a few touches to the survival mode for the purposes of reviews or, sometimes to try to unlock new items, but in this case I was quite surprised by the motivation that can be added from all the action and very well constructed animations.
Towaga: Among Shadows is a simple, fun, addictive, and counts with a beautiful graphic style, reminiscent of the animations taken from Samurai Jack. Although the enemies are similar, the whole surrounding scene is very colorful and detailed. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight and if the battery runs out you can always use your phone’s flash. Good luck in facing the darkness! You will need it.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for Steam, provided by Sunnyside Games.]