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Roguelike dungeon crawler Shadow of the Depth is Diablo meets Hades

Shadow of the Depth screenshot
Image: ChillyRoom

Out today in early access, you wouldn’t guess that Shadow of the Depth isn’t already a fully-functional game. Because it is. Its time in early access is simply to allow developer ChillyRoom to add even more content to it. We’re already very impressed, so we can’t wait to see what the next few months hold.

Shadow of the Depth is an action roguelike that sees you making your way through a series of dungeons. It caught our attention a little while ago because it reminded us of Diablo, and it’s a comparison we still think holds true. Attacking is fast and furious, and with a range of skills at your disposal, cleaning out groups of enemies gives you the same thrill that Blizzard’s genre-leading ARPG does.

But with the roguelike element involved — if you die, it’s back to the beginning you go — there’s also a touch of Hades in here, too. Combat is as smooth and ballet-like as you’d expect in Hades, with ferocious boss fights punctuating your journey through a series of dungeons. It’s the bosses that are really going to test your mettle in Shadow of the Depth and if you want to succeed, you’ll need to have picked up a good array of upgrades — and mastered how to use them effectively.

Shadow of the Depth
Image: ChillyRoom

We’re impressed with just how often a run of Shadow of the Depth throws some sort of new weapon, upgrade or skill enhancement at you. Each room of a dungeon you find yourself in is sprawling and, while you can run straight for the exit if you want, it pays to explore. Chests are dotted about with abandon, each containing an upgrade to your health, a new skill or a better weapon. And the more you fortify yourself with before facing the next boss, the better your chances are going to be.

Related: The best roguelike games on Xbox Game Pass

When you play Shadow of the Depth for the first time, there’s only one character for you to play as: a crusader-type class equipped with a sword and shield. He’s not the quickest, but he hits hard and has a good amount of HP. Eventually, you’ll unlock new characters, including a crossbow-wielding hunter type, and a quick-on-her-feet rogue equipped with daggers. Each character plays very differently and has their own unique range of abilities that can be picked up as you play. You’ll undoubtedly have your favourite, but it’s absolutely worth trying them all.

Like any good roguelike, it’s not completely game over when you fall on a run in Shadow of the Depth. You’ll gain experience each time, and a range of permanent upgrades allows you to improve the base stats of each character. Other boons are available too, like being able to make other character’s weapons available to all, and you’ll also unlock runes which can be equipped to a character, giving them various benefits on their run.

That’s plenty to be going at, then, and as disappointing as a game over may be, it’s nice to know that your hard work isn’t in vain. You’ll always earn something, ultimately making future runs that little bit easier, allowing you to keep pushing further and further.

The early access version of Shadow of the Depth features three chapters, each with a boss to take down. Eventually, more levels and more bosses will be added, but already it’s a sizeable experience for a roguelike that feels polished and finished. ChillyRoom expect it to remain in early access for between 6-12 months, and in that time it will be adding new weapons, more playable characters, additional skills, expanded progression paths and a local co-op mode.

All of that sounds great, and we can’t wait to see what the finished version of Shadow of the Depth looks like. But if you’re a fan of roguelikes and ARPGs, there’s no reason to wait. This already feels like a full, polished game and we’ve been having an absolute blast with it. Available on Steam for just £12.79, it’ll be money well spent, we daresay.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.