Let's Talk Games: Shadow Fight 2
Last week left me rather idle, so I took to the Play Store to see if there was anything to help me kill some time. Be it my picky nature or just a lack of good mobile games, but an hour into my search yielded nothing of particular interest. Resigning myself to watching anime, it dawned upon me that there was a fighting game I'd grind every evening after school that I never did finish. A bit of searching around lead me straight to the title: Shadow Fight 2. Released on October of 2013, Shadow Fight 2 is no stranger to the world of fighting games and has been rated as one of the most successful games of its kind to hit the mobile entertainment industry. It's a game most of us have already picked up at some point but you'll seldom come across someone who's actually beat the entire thing. This was certainly the case with me as my smartphones wouldn't outlast the time it would take to advance till the end of the campaign. So that's the challenge I placed on myself this week: beat Shadow Fight 2 in 4 and a half days. And after lots of grinding and gaming under the table in class (definitely not recommeded!), I finally hacked, slashed, punched, kicked, sliced, smashed and dashed my way to the very end of the game.
This week, we're taking a look at Shadow Fight 2!
Shadow Fight 2 is a single player Action & Fighting game developed by Nekki Studios. You may also recognize other popular games published by this brand such as Vector and 11x11. With over 100 million downloads on Google Play at the time of writing and an overall rating of 4.6 stars, Shadow Fight 2 certainly has the figures to back up its own description on the Play Store:
"Shadow Fight 2 is a nail-biting mix of RPG and classical Fighting. This game lets you equip your character with countless lethal weapons and rare armor sets, and features dozens of lifelike-animated Martial Arts techniques! Crush your enemies, humiliate demon bosses, and be the one to close the Gate of Shadows. Do you have what it takes to kick, punch, jump, and slash your way to victory? There’s only one way to find out."
Fighting games are a dime a dozen and brands like Tekken, Streetfighter, Injustice (and so on) have already laid their claim to infamy within the genre. It was against this competition that Shadow Fight 2 entered the fray and carved its name into the Action Games Hall of Fame. With a simple yet engaging storyline and battle physics like no other, SF2 brings a lot to the table all in under 500MB of storage. Let's dissect the elements of the game and take a more elaborate approach to what makes Shadow Fight the game that it is.
You've heard about Shadow Fight 2 and maybe even 3, but you'll be hard pressed to find the original game anywhere. It took me a solid 10 minutes of digging around to find out that the original title was actually a Facebook game that ran from February of 2011 to October of 2017, after which Nekki shut down the servers for unknown reasons. The fact that the shut down date had to be postponed from September to October due to the sheer volume of demand for the game ought to tell you everything you need to know about how popular the game was. With a legacy such as this, SF2 certainly had some big shoes to fill to call itself a worthy sequel.
The story for SF2 is simple and is summarized in a (skippable) short cutscene in the opening sequence for the game. It entails the story of a great warrior who breaks the laws of the land and opens the legendary Gates of Shadows, unleashing powerful demons who rob him of his body and leave him as nothing more than a shadow of his true self. The duty now falls upon this warrior to defeat these demons and seal the Gates of Shadows to once more bring peace to the world. Short and sweet, that's all the information you'll get as you go crawling back to your sensei at the start of the game.
As you advance through the world, you enter Tournaments and Challenges where you fight other warriors in your quest to reclaim your honour. Once you emerge as the champion of a region, you get to face off against the boss demon for that region and pummel their face into the dirt to reclaim mythical artifacts from them which you'll need to close the gates once more. That's the gist of what goes on in SF2. Plot twists, big reveals and character interactions all find their way into the story, so much so that by the time you finish the game, it feels like an experience entirely indistinguishable from the quality of a PC or console game.
The total consecutive game time needed to finish the game is 9 hours (according to Google), but anyone who's actually played the game will know that this is the furthest thing from the truth. SF2's unpaid version works on an energy system where your progress is limited by a time-dependent progression style where each battle demands energy- a resource that you can only regenerate through time. Given that a player may only stock up to 5 energy units at a time and that a typical tournament consists of 24 stages, it's easy to see how limiting the energy system can be. There are two workarounds: either do what we did and buy the Special Edition of the game (which removes the energy feature entirely) or fast forward your system time by 2 hours and enter the game again. The latter technique works since SF2 stores its game data offline and doesn't need an internet connection to work aside from Raid Battles. Either way, the energy feature is very easy to abuse even if you don't want to spend cash.
As far as the battles go, the physics in SF2 are nothing short of impressive. Even though the game appears 2D since all the character models are pitch black and depth is impossible to discern, keen observation of their movements will reveal that the fights are actually taking place in 3D; your viewing angle just makes it appear flat. This makes the game unique and gives it the added complexity of demanding good spacial awareness from the players. The plethora of weapons which will become available to the player during the course of the game also have their own movement patters which you'll have to understand if you want to fight optimally.
A word of warning to those who think the game is easy: SF2 will at no point hold your hand. The battle difficulties will change depending on the level of the player's equipment and can be either Easy, Normal, Hard, Insane or Impossible. It is possible to win fights at all difficulty levels (even Impossible), but you'd be either crazy or talented to enter fights ranked Insane or Impossible. As for the Demon Bosses, mercy is a concept entirely lacking from their psyche; prepare to throw the phone in frustration when they shred through your HP like butter. The game is not easy, as far as modern gaming standards go. In SF2, you either get good or go home.
For a game with such a long story, SF2 places very modest demands on your system to work. The minimum requirements, as given by Nekkz, are as follows:
• iOS: iPhone 6s or better, iOS 9 and above, 2GB+ RAM
• Android: Android 5.0 and above, RAM - more than 2GB
...meaning even your grandma can become a Shadow Fight Champion on her Samsung S5 mini.
Paywall & Ads
The free version of the game pushes monetary limitations only at two main junctures: the energy system (which you can already bypass through system time) and the alternative gem currency system which gives you access to powerful enchanted weapons that can only be bought that way. This is in no way mandatory and a few minutes of grinding in Survival mode are enough to bridge the gap, making SF2 one of the most free to play friendly games out there. The Ads are completely non-intrusive and can be wholly removed by just playing the game without internet, something you can either do with your wifi off or through the use of apps which selectively cut off internet access for your blacklisted apps.