I have to be honest. This review might be a bit biased. You see, I am a huge Shantae fan, so when I was asked to review Shantae and the Seven Sirens, I squealed with glee! As I played the game, smiling from ear to ear, I slowly realized something special about it. This is not just a good Shantae game. Shantae and the Seven Sirens may be the best Shantae game to date!
WayForward has done a wonderful job evolving the series with each new entry, and they have definitely outdone themselves this time around. Want to know why? Well, let me tell you why!
Most Shantae games revolve around a simple story that includes a lot of the faces from previous games, like Sky, Bolo, and even that dastardly Risky Boots, so new players might not get a lot of the running gags. Thankfully, there are not too many of those, and new players will be able to come into Shantae and the Seven Sirens with no need of previous knowledge and still enjoy the game.
Our strong and gullible hero is invited to a resort island that plans to celebrate half-genies like never before! The Mayor of the resort area thinks that this celebrations is going to accomplish two major things: shine a light on a spectacular group of girls with extraordinary powers, and of course bring a revenue to his resort that is slightly struggling.
After some silly tasks, you and the other half-genies get ready to perform a show for the adoring audience, when suddenly all of the half-genies except Shantae disappear into thin air. In normal Shantae fashion, she is unable to sit pretty knowing that all of her new friends are gone somewhere, so she decides to take matters into her own hands and figure out the mystery that is plaguing Paradise Island.
The story is the perfect amount of interesting and fun. It may not be the most thought-provoking storyline, but the way Shantae is highlighted is always encouraging and the way her strengths and weaknesses are applied to the various events exposed her human side so well. It is one of the main reasons I love her as a character. She is always so daring, but she is prone to making mistakes. It gives both her and the story itself so much more connection with the player, and I appreciate that very much.
The comedy and dialog are also on point, and it is easy to get caught up in chatting with random NPCs just to see how Shantae interacts with them. I love how WayForward does not shy away from making their main character look stupid some times, which again gives her so much more personality.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a great little story with tons of characters and charm, and it remains consistently excellent due to its strong writing. It is not a story that takes itself so seriously, and that is truly one of the things that strengthens the whole experience, making it enjoyable for just about anyone.
Gameplay in Shantae games follow the same basic formula as any metroidvania out there. The map slowly becomes more and more accessible as you progress in the game and gain power-ups, and Shantae and the Seven Sirens sticks to that formula.
What makes this game special, however, is that WayForward decided to revert to older ideas and bring them into the modern day. Shantae’s famous transformations have been relegated to simple button presses this time around, and it makes for some quick and exhilarating gameplay.
As you progress naturally through the story, you will be guided to Labyrinths that serve as dungeons of sorts. Entering into these Labyrinths take you to an exotic new themed area that has its own secrets, and each of these dungeons usually end with a confrontation from our good ol’ nemesis Risky Boots before going on and fighting the boss of the area. This is the formula for most of the game, and it works really well to keep you invested in exploring the maps and collecting items and money.
The Labyrinths are one of the best parts of the game, as they somehow feature an unbelievable combination of puzzle solving, hair-whipping combat, and tight knit exploration, as well as unlocking a new transformation that will assist you in completing the area and defeating the boss.
Shantae and the Seven Siren‘s overworld is also a joy to explore, but one of the reasons why it is so fun this time around is because WayForward listened to a lot of strong critique from previous games and eliminated the use of dancing in order to transform. Transformations are easier than ever this time around, and it makes for fantastic exploration, even when backtracking.
Combat in the game is split into three systems: you have the standard hair attack, special attacks that can be bought and upgraded in the shop like the flamethrower and pike balls, and a new little system where you can collect monster cards after defeating enemies and use these cards to give Shantae some very usable buffs. The combination of these three systems allows for unique combat strategies that help tremendously in sticky situations or stubborn boss fights.
Speaking of boss fights, Shantae and the Seven Sirens boasts a large list of excellent ones. Not only are the main bosses effective and a lot of fun to play against, the mini-bosses throughout certain areas serve their own grand purpose in helping you, the player, to learn better techniques and how to avoid damage.
If you are a fan of the series, I cannot stress enough how good Shantae and the Seven Sirens is. In regards to gameplay, this basically combined all the best elements from previous games and eliminated the worst elements or damn-near perfected them. My only gripe, and I hate to even say it, is that the map can be a bit confusing at times. If you missed or forgot a certain bit of dialog, you may find yourself wandering around looking for the next area or person to talk to. A hint system could have easily prevented this.
It is with great sadness that I learned Jake Kaufman did not return to do the soundtrack for this game, though. The legendary composer has been responsible for some of the best music in modern gaming, and his stuff for previous Shantae games were easily the highlights of the games.
This time around, the soundtrack is still energetic and poppy, but it does not quite have the same oomph that Kaufman’s work did. But that is not to say the soundtrack is bad. Quite the contrary, it is still pretty fantastic in its own way, and there are particular areas that are quite memorable and may live with you long after finishing the game.
Voice acting is so freaking good that it makes me upset that the whole game is not voiced. Shantae, in particular, is at top performance throughout the entire game, and I love the subtlety of her tone changes that do such an amazing job of helping you feel the character’s emotions in a real way.
Also, the visuals are unbelievably good! From the opening movie, the quality of the production is apparent, and the game looks gorgeous in all of the ways it presents itself. The bright colors splash the screen in such a way that you cannot help be smile. I also love how perfectly the anime-style cutscenes match the gameplay animation, and that presentation is consistent all through the game, from the character models to the enemies to the lush 2D backgrounds. This is simply a beautiful game.
I experienced zero problems in regard to performance issues. Although loading times can feel a bit long when transitioning between areas, it is only about 5 seconds usually. If that is the worst thing I can say about the game’s performance, they have clearly done something right.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens will cost you $29.99, and that is a perfect price for this package. It will take you about 10 hours to clear the game on your first playthrough, but like other metroidvanias, you will be encouraged to play the game again in New Game+. There is a lot to explore, and it is wonderful from start to finish.
I honestly have to recommend this game in the highest way possible. As a fan of the series, I cannot encourage other fans enough to dive in. For first timers, this is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the Shantae series. And for fans of metroidvanias, why would you rob yourself of a good time within your preferred genre? This is Shantae at its best, and it may be time for you to dive in.
Gorgeous visuals and cutscenes
Superb voice acting
Lack of help on map
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.