Steve Gal’s Shrouded In Sanity is a eight-direction, side-scrolling, action-adventure game. It combines hack-and-slash gameplay with some light projectile combat, all wrapped up nice and neat in an atmospheric, horror-themed location.
Players take on the role of a hunter, contracted to kill the Beckoner in an alternate reality of 1897 Britannia. Players will travel to the Berelai Manor located in the Angelic Empire where they’ll encounter the violent inhabitants of the manor, along with the ghastly horrors and tragedies that have taken place on the estate.
A laito cane and Waltham A9 pistol will make up for the arsenal, and various healing balms and concoctions can be used for healing aids and buffs.
The objective of the game is to clear out the fog and the Beckoner who resides within it. You can see what the gameplay is like with the gameplay trailer below.
The game is described by its designer as being a mix of Resident Evil 1, Dark Souls and Eternal Darkness.
There’s most certainly a Castlevania vibe to the game as well, with the title steeped in a brooding atmosphere that also has some of the Gothic charms of Devil May Cry.
Gamers are most certainly appreciative of Shrouded In Sanity’s atmosphere and general gameplay aesthetics.
Hawk Zombie praised the developer’s quick response to bugs refreshing, along with Shrouded in Sanity’s aesthetic “very detailed”, writing…
“The aesthetic is something I liked quite a bit. Something about the pixel art style really lends itself to this game. The enemies are well designed, but I found some of the areas a bit muddy while others were very detailed.
“I liked it. A lot. It’s sort of a Souls clone, but not really. Many errors and shortcomings have been addressed and quickly. The developer is also highly attentive; a bug was reported in the forums and fixed within minutes. I’ve decided to keep the game for that reason alone.”
Barduk found the combat and action to work well enough and was “fun to master” but was easily won over with the style of the game’s presentation, writing…
“The World is gorgeous (if you can appreciate the art style) intriguing and most of all fun to explore. The cryptic and mind bending story is enjoyable enough but like the combat there are some bumps in the dialogue here and there.”
Shmumbler also tied the game to Castlevania, mentioning that the connection is rather apparent despite many of the comparisons made by others to Bloodborne, writing…
“Shrouded in Sanity is essentially an attempt at a 2D Bloodborne, and it becomes obvious as you play it. Combat consists of a combination of light/heavy attacks, guarding, parrying and riposting, and dodging. Defeating foes grants you Vitae, the life-force of enemies which you use as the in-game currency. However, despite its obvious ties to Bloodborne, the atmosphere and visuals remind me more of Castlevania, as the mansion holds a majestic, yet mysterious Gothic feel to it, aided by the outfits and general designs of characters and enemies.”
NicoNico felt as if Shrouded In Sanity benefited greatly from being in Early Access and that the game is worth checking out for those who enjoy Bloodborne-style thrillers with a tinge of Lovecraftian horror thrown into the mix, writing…
“With its Lovecraft-inspired story and atmosphere and its very tight, responsive and fun controls, Shrouded in Sanity is a very solid 2D Bloodborne-like.
“More than just a carbon copy, the game delivers some interesting mechanics such as a sanity system which affects how you perceive your ennemies and the mysterious Blessings from the Priest.”
Speaking of Sanity… the game uses the Sanity meter as a way to get players to think about how they upgrade their stats throughout the game. Zaravan explains in the review that players will have to balance increasing their power versus encountering Eldritch horrors…
“Your stats are average at start, but you can upgrade your damage, stamina, and total health with Yith stones.
“The only drawback is the Yith stones themselves, in that with every three for each upgrade, your Sanity erodes.
“The more your Sanity peels away, the more that monsterous, twisted, eldritch variations of common enemies appear. They are far tougher and more dangerous that the common foes.”
The twist on the enemies gives players a new way to think about their tactical engagements and how they plan on upgrading their stats by acquiring Yith Stones.
Ravenragextreme liked the gameplay systems setup, especially the combat mechanics, saying that it manages to avoid being a direct Dark Souls ripoff…
“A Surprise game I had no idea even existed until today, add Resident Evil’s Spencer Manor, take some inspiration from Bloodborne in terms of tone and an extra helping of What the Hell?!, and a nice parry/riposte system (like Souls/bloodborne) and you get a good game worthy of its price and not to be tarred with the (souls ripoff) brush despite taking some elements from them.”
MultiGamingChannel did a brief playthrough of the title featuring 15 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay. You can see what Shrouded In Sanity looks like in action below.
Not everyone is keen on Shrouded In Sanity’s gameplay, though. There are some complaints about the pixel sprite resolution being low, and that the enemies lack proper starting animations, making it difficult to counter them.
According to Forecast Octopus, he felt as if the mechanics and controls lacked refinement, saying…
“It adopts everything from Dark Souls except for the refined mechanics. It copries them, but they are without tempo.
“Enemies are one dimentional and without any depth of combat, it feels like a bug free alpha.”
The Snee also felt that the controls lacked refinement and suffered from “poor feedback”. He states that the atsmophere is interesting and the exploration is done well, but the combat was too much of a turn-off, writing…
“I really wanted to like this. The setting and obvious inspirations drew my eye, but the awful controls, poor feedback, and shallow combat mean I have no interest in playing further.
“I would like to explore, but in a game as difficult as this, you need to be in full control of your character to fight the enemies. I felt like I was fighting the combat system itself, rather than the deranged inhabitents of the mansion.”
Majority of the reviews for the game are quite positive.The only consistent negative complaint even from the positive reviews is that the game lacks in the area of its production values, but otherwise gamer seem to love the side-scrolling Bloodborne-meets-Castlevnia dynamic.
The developer has also been working assiduously in correcting problems and optimizing the game with better and more refined gameplay. Just recently he fixed an issue with the save files and added the option to unlock the ability to play as the bosses.
Shrouded In Sanity is available right now on Steam for $7.99. For more information you can either check out the Steam store page.