Shadows of Doubt – PC Preview

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We had a chance to get a sneak peek of Shadows of Doubt, a detective stealth game from ColePowered Games released into Early Access on 24th April 2023 on PC. The Devs boast of an immersive game where you have the freedom to play the game how you want. Let’s take a closer look.

If in doubt, Stakeout!

ColePowered Games offers here a character-rich and immersive detective thriller. Being a crime/detective game fan I had to check this title out. Are you a fan of this style of game? Leave a comment below and let us know what games you enjoy.

Gameplay

Shadows of Doubt is essentially a detective game, more particularly one with a feel of neo-noir crime drama. While not explained much I got the feeling the character you play is a retired detective. The game starts with a dark room with text saying it’s early morning. Way too early to be getting up. Time to investigate. Simple instructions appear to turn on the bedside light. You realistically fumble about trying to click that switch you can hardly see. As the room lights up you are welcomed with a gorgeous-looking room. I made my way through the house lighting up each room as I came across them.

a interior of a living room and kitchen featuring a couch and
I’m no interior designer, but green with a red carpet?! ugh!

The phone rings and after finding the telephone I answered the call. Eerie heavy breathing sounded out from the other end which went on for far longer than I was comfortable with. To add to the unease and drama a note is found which had been slipped under my door. As you interact with the note you are welcomed to the case screen. A familiar sight to those who play detective games. With each bit of evidence and clues, you can pin it to a board for ease of reference. Handily, each name and address is tagged allowing you to refer for more information. The note ambiguously tells you to find a person and sets you off on your path.

Detective Time

It’s all very compelling. First the strange call and then the mysterious note. I set about searching for the person’s name in the phone book as you would do in real life. After finding the person’s address you gather your detective gear and set out into the city. A handy waypoint guides you through the detailed and breathtaking city streets toward your destination. On the way, I came across city dwellers going about their day-to-day lives. I walked past stores and buildings which the dwellers were constantly going in and out of. I found navigating my way to the location really immersive, walking the rainy streets of a dimly lit city lit only by neon signs, the occasional lamppost, and stores. 

A well lit cobbled street. Lit by lampposts and signs. An arrow points the way to the objective at the bottom of the screen
Onwards to clear all shadows of doubt!

When you reach the person’s home there’s no answer to your knock on the door. To get to the bottom of this you have to trespass. The game warns you that as this is an illegal action you may be pursued by the law. With this in mind, I ventured into the apartment. You soon discover the person dead in one of the rooms. I quickly set about gathering up as much evidence as I could. The evidence ranged from the time of death to how they were murdered. I found myself frantically searching the apartment’s drawers for ID or anything of use. Soon enough the police arrive and I have to admit they gave me a scare. In the heat of the moment, I rushed out of the apartment and nearly killed myself jumping down the stairwell in some kind of death-defying parkour manoeuvre. Lesson learned. 

Stealth is Optional

The investigation leads you to workplaces and locations found written down in evidence and there you have to stealthily trespass using air ducts or lockpick doors to gain entry. Security cameras guard locations and alert the authorities if their sight, indicated by lasers, detects you. These can be deactivated by power boxes hidden away which sometimes are hard to find. When managing to shut off the security I noticed it slowly resets itself meaning you have limited time in each place before the cameras turn back on. I found this level of detail enjoyable making each location challenging and tense.

A man stands next to a barrel fire carring an umbrella. Dialog choices are at the bottom of the screen
Maybe asking for fingerprints is a step too far?

To further the investigation I found PCs which you can “hack” using pin codes found on the post its or elsewhere. These PCs have mail applications and work directories to allow you to find even more evidence to use in your case, all able to be pinned to your case board. You can interact and question any NPCs about the case using evidence found to use in questioning. Some of these NPCs will help point you in the general direction others will not be so helpful. The more you dig for clues the deeper you get into the mystery of it all and it all becomes more and more addictive.

Graphics & Audio

From your first look at your bedroom to the sprawling cityscape you find yourself traversing I was awestruck by the style and detail put into it all. The buildings down to the smallest of items are built up of blocks, a third of the size of Minecraft blocks to allow for more intricacy to the items and environment. The use of these blocks makes for a unique look to the game and when lit up by neon signs and streetlights it is pleasing to look at. The rain, and sometimes snow, added to the gritty and morose feel which is often the tone of said neo-noir detective novels/shows.  

A street at night lit by store signs and overhead lights. Silhouettes of pedestrians can be seen
Crime around every corner of these cold streets

There isn’t much music added to the game giving more to the immersion of the game allowing you to notice the noise of the city and the residents going about their lives. Occasional sound effects of security cameras and when being chased will add to the tension of that particular moment.

Longevity

The developers boast the game is procedurally generated meaning that no case you start will have the same layout or persons involved and circling the crime. I found this added to the replayability tenfold as with each new case you are tasked with learning the locations all over again and the challenges each one has in store. After the case has been completed you can go into retirement mode, rent an apartment, and can do side quests to further enjoy the game. The game also has a sandbox mode allowing you to explore even further and play as a detective at your own pace.

A well lit corridor with a silhouette of a person. in the foreground an arm with a watch.
Hours can be spent solving murders to your hearts content!

Final Thoughts

Overall, this gritty neo-noir detective game sets itself apart from others with its unique and aesthetically pleasing visuals and gaming mechanics. I found myself lost in its immersive world and murder mystery. This well-crafted game will no doubt snare anyone into its narrative and visuals just like I was. Detective Trilbys off to the developers for making a riveting and compelling detective game worthy of a few playthroughs. 

Disclaimer: A code was received to write this review.

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