Home Gaming Enter the Shadow Realm: Bioware’s Newest IP

Enter the Shadow Realm: Bioware’s Newest IP

by Tim Tarbet

You’ve been having nightmares. 

Bad ones. Over and over again. You wake up screaming every night. Rings of fire. Broken glass. Shape shifters. Face stealers.

A businessman with a visage of smoke. 

You’ve been chosen.

Being awake isn’t much better. Wherever you go, you can’t help but look over your shoulder. You’re being watched, you’re sure of it. To make matters worse, strange things keep happening. Lights flicker. Animals avoid you. Phones stop working. 

You’ve been chosen.

Henna and Blake have both disappeared. Henna first, a couple of weeks ago. You thought she was just going crazy with this ‘chosen’ crap. Then Blake started doing it.  Became obsessed with finding her. Started a blog. Every time you saw him, he looked more and more haggard. Last week, you got a text from him. Found her. Don’t look for us. That’s it. You tried to call, but the number had been disconnected. The police are looking for both of them now. 

You’ve been chosen.

You see it everywhere you go. Billboards. Subway signs. Emails. Text messages. Voicemails. They aren’t even pretending anymore. Strangers are doing it now. A glance, a whisper, and they’re gone. 

Sometimes… being chosen isn’t a good thing.

Shadow Realms

Yesterday, Bioware announced a brand new IP, due for release late next year. The announcement came as the culmination of a week long ad campaign that included teaser trailers, creepy blog posts, and a whole lot of hype. 

The new IP is called Shadow Realms, and it’s probably the most exciting thing that’s been announced at GamesCom so far. 

It is completely separate from both the Mass Effect series and the other new IP that Bioware announced at E3. 

Instead, Shadow Realms is an urban fantasy, with a bit of horror mixed in, which will be a refreshing change from the typical science fiction and fantasy fare that we see in video games.

Don’t get me wrong, I love both genres, but urban fantasy is a whole lot of fun. Not only that, but urban fantasy, as a general rule, is criminally underused. There’s plenty of media, be it books, TV, or games, that are in fantasy or even science fiction. Not so much with urban fantasy. 

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We don’t know a whole lot so far, only that it’s going to be an action-horror RPG with up to 5 player co op with heavy emphasis on story. The gameplay, however, promises to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen from a mainstream title, pitting 4 player characters against the 5th, who plays as the Shadow Lord, this game’s version of a Dungeon Master. 

For those of you not familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, a Dungeon Master is a player who doesn’t play a character like everyone else. Instead, he takes the place of storywriter, mastermind, orchestrater. In that sense, it’s not so much a 4v1 as it is one player creating a story that everyone else gets to enjoy. He plays the monsters and villains, sets the traps, designs the environments, and, most importantly, pulls your ass out of the fire when you do something stupid. 

The most exciting part of this new IP is who’s working on it. 

James Ohlen. 

I know, I didn’t recognize the name, either, but apparently he was the lead designer of other awesome BioWare RPGs like KotOR, which was ok, Dragon Age: Origins, which was pretty good, and the Baldur’s Gate series, which was mind blowingly awesome. 

Seriously. If you haven’t played Baldur’s Gate I & II, go buy a copy.

Of course, the game is as much hype as anything else right now. With little more than teaser trailers and developer’s assurances, there’s really no telling how the game will actually turn out. That will depend on how well the story is written and, more importantly, how well the Shadow Lord feature is implemented. Will a Shadow Lord be able to craft his own adventures? Will he be able to build new environments? Will third party adventures, tilesets, and skins be available?

There’re more questions than answers at this point, but this is definitely a game that I’m excited about. 

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