One of my favorite games of all time Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic has given me thousands of hours of gameplay. Its slow paced turn-based nature makes it quite annoying for me to play online, but over LAN with a good friend or 2 this game becomes a weekend of fun.
Initially I started the series with Age of Wonders 2 which I bought randomly while browsing. This was back when EB Games actually had PC titles on the shelves to browse. Anyhow I had tons of fun with it Age of wonder 2. I started playing it late in its release so it wasn’t very long before what was supposed to be its expansion Shadow Magic, was released. I was a little confused as to why it wasn’t just an expansion rather than a stand-alone but I didn’t care much.
I remember introducing my girlfriend to the game, she hated the tutorial. I think she quit halfway through it. She didn’t like the turn-based style and something rubbed her wrong (lol I’m such a kid) during the learning phase. I remember telling her to skip it and just play a LAN game with me. Some months later she did, and dum dum dum… ended up playing the game solidly for a few years.
What really drew me into the game was:
- The magic system and assortment of spells
- The units / races and their diversity and uniqueness
- The maps
- The economic system (which was quite simple)
- The general strategic gameplay elements
- Hero unit customization
The way all these elements blended together really made the game feel awesome to play. Having one of my heroes go off exploring for items, treasure or an easy city to take over, then being cut off from reinforcements when in grave danger. Or holding a city with insufficient forces just long enough to complete the construction of a teleportation gate and having backup pour through. Even the annoyingness of having my party’s movement speed decreased because they were underground, it was all very tasteful. It did help that the game provided solutions to every problem, such as enchanting that party with the ability to float for example.
I just remember having a great time with the game and wishing they would make a part 3 with some added elements like further visual and skill customization of your heroes, units and wizard. Basically just more of what they already had. It was a very slow paced game most of the time and it might be an acquired taste, but that extra time really made for the most strategic gameplay I’ve experienced. It was like the chess of the future.
The game has some weak elements but I completely overlook them lol. Hero unites being glued to their horses like Heroes of Might and Magic, unit animations for some spells and abilities could be better. Actually animations in general could be better but hey, were talking about a game in 2003. There are a few other things I didn’t like or wished the game had but it’s mostly what they didn’t do, not what they did wrong if you catch my drift.
The studio that made the game has now moved on to more lucrative projects I assume but I will never forget and will always have my copy of Shadow Magic ready to reinstall… Until a new version of windows comes by and screws that up with incompatibility.
Until next time, as in Skyrim Highlight video #3 incoming ETA 2hrs.