PREVIEW / Shadows of Doubt (PC)


I absolutely love being proven a liar. I spent a little while recently moaning the lack of open-ended whodunnit games in the world. I wanted a game where, once I’d found the villain, I could play again with an altered story and a different antagonist and just keep going. This was all part and parcel of my review for Murderous Muses by the way, go and check it out; that game is amazing. So there I am thinking that I’d found the exception to the norm and along comes Shadows of Doubt. Not only is this a whodunnit but it’s a bloody sandbox as well. Well, you know what they say about waiting for a bus and three coming at once, right? Am I complaining? No, I’m not. Let’s see what this clever investigation game has in store for us, shall we?



Shadows of Doubt sees you taking on the role of a detective in a procedurally generated city. You’ll have to gather information and use it to solve a murder. This is fairly straightforward with respect to the type of game we’re playing. What isn’t is the sheer enormity of the task at hand. Shadows of Doubt is actually asking us to use the old gray matter, along with our stealth skills and general wits to succeed. This isn’t just a matter of asking a few questions and picking the killer, there’s actual sleuthing to be done. This in and of itself is absolutely brilliant as it adds a load of layers of depth to the proceedings. The problem is that it also complicates matters to the point where things might feel a bit daunting to some. Actually, let me rephrase that – daunting to me.

Shadows of Doubt is making us do detective work as it should be done. This involves discovering and then following up on leads. Everything might start at a corpse but once you’ve examined it, where are you supposed to go from there? You’ll have to explore and investigate your surroundings in an apartment containing a dead person that you aren’t supposed to be in. As you can probably imagine getting caught in this scenario is a really bad idea. This can absolutely happen before you’ve gathered all the evidence you need to press on and that makes things … bothersome. Having only half the info can be as bad as having none of it. This is also where the stealth comes in. You better be sure you’ve got an escape route planned out because being arrested is far less likely to occur than being shot dead, and you don’t want that now, do you?


That looks remarkably like a body. You’d better get to work.


My biggest peeve about this game is that there isn’t an autosaving function. It’s ridiculously easy to make a wrong turn and this often winds up with you being in a compromising situation where you’re going to want to reload. If you’ve forgotten to manually save the game, (you definitely will,) you’re going to find yourself losing a frustrating amount of progress. As this is the sort of game where it feels like it takes a very long time to get anywhere this is more than a bit annoying. I lost nearly an hour’s worth of gameplay to this the other day and as you can probably imagine I wasn’t best pleased.

Shadows of Doubt is a bit of a strange animal. This is on account of the main game, (the story,) being what is essentially one long tutorial. In most cases, I’d say this was a bad idea and that games had to be very careful taking this route because you never feel like you’re playing under your own agency; which is obviously bad with respect to the main campaign. In this case, however, this is entirely necessary. There is a lot to learn if you’re going to get to the level of detective you’ll need to be to be really proficient at this game. After you’ve completed this tutorial you’ll move into the real meat of this title which is its sandbox mode. Here you’ll load a completely procedurally generated city and get a new case. The training wheels will be coming off and believe me when I say this is more daunting than you’d think. I do not recommend jumping straight into the sandbox mode, I think you’ll last all of five minutes if you don’t have a good handle on what’s going on.


Your case board contains a wealth of gathered information. You’re going to be seeing this screen a lot.


This big problem with Shadows of Doubts is the same thing that makes this game great. It’s way too complicated for its own good. I’ve spent a good few hours with this title, certainly enough to get the gist of what’s going on but I don’t feel like I’ve even scratched the surface. This is a game that tells you loosely what you need to do, (i.e. find a killer,) and just lets you run with it. You’ll create and follow your own leads and eventually, with a bit of luck, solve the case. How you go about that, though, is entirely up to you. You’ll be breaking into places you shouldn’t be, collecting fingerprints, and trying not to get killed; in no time. Or in my case, spending hours getting lost in vents because it’s an easy way of getting about the place if you want to avoid cameras. How you go about things is your call, and while this is excellent for gamers that like a lot of depth it’s going to leave those of you that want to be handheld even at least a little completely stuck.

Shadows of Doubt is a game for people with time. As I said, I’ve touched nothing with respect to the sheer volume of what I’m facing with the main campaign and I’ve already lost hours to this title. As much as I love the fact that there’s a lot to do here I still want to feel like I’m making progress, something that I don’t at the moment. Let me put a massive caveat here and say that this isn’t the fault of the game. I’m a cautious player and often take longer than most, if you scooted through your first case without flinching, (I don’t believe you,) good for you. This being said this isn’t by any means a pick-up-and-play title. If you’re looking for something you can play on the fly look elsewhere.


The graphics have a really 90s feel. If the 90s were brought bang up to date.


Take everything that I’ve just said with a pinch of salt because this is an early access game and as such there’s more work to be done. For me, there’s a lot that needs to be simplified and improved to help the overall experience. For the moment the UI feels clunky. There are a lot of windows that you’ll need to pop open regularly and your case board, something that is really important feels a bit cumbersome. I’m not sure whether they have the balance between being given too much help and not enough right yet. I was getting way too many, “What do I do now?” moments, not because I was stuck with where to go but because I couldn’t find a button or menu I was looking for, was struggling with using an item, etc. I don’t want guidance step by step but I do want to feel comfortable with the basics and I didn’t a lot of the time.

Those are negatives but it wasn’t a negative experience. I love the concept and I really like the graphics and general feel of this game. Shadows of Doubt is a title that is definitely worth experiencing if you like mystery solving. This is a game you can literally spend hours in and not notice time going and this is something that I’m all for. I think that when this is released fully it’ll be a really enjoyable experience. I can only speak from my own experience with this game, though,  and it was really a mixed bag on the whole.

Sleuthing at it's best

Doubtful I'll be completing this any time soon

Shadows of Doubt is an awesome concept and there is a hell of a lot to love about this game From my own time playing, clunky UI and hit-and-miss difficulty make this title feel frustrating at times. If you’re looking for quick gratification this is not the game for you. If on the other hand, you like to take things slow and explore every avenue you’ll love this one. From my own perspective, it’s fun but doesn’t yet have all the pieces together to make for a really engaging experience. All in all, definitely one to watch for investigation fans.