Shishi: Timeless prelude is a dungeon crawler game developed by Shishi Studios in Montreal. It introduces Elijah, a young sorceress who must complete her training to become an Oracle. With her cute character of hers and colorful dungeons, she immediately catches the eye.
Game copy and images courtesy of Shishi Studios
The game is a light roguelike, with games lasting just over an hour on average. You play as Elijah, a young sorceress who can attack enemies using her staff or the spells she learns along the way.
Each floor of the dungeon is made up of different rooms. In some, there are jars that you can throw and break, Link-style, to find silver coins, hearts, or Aether crystals. In others we encounter enemies that we must fight in turn. Some rooms give us a chest once all the enemies have been destroyed, in which we can find the key to the great door, or an improvement in life points or the ether.
Elijah already knows one spell when he arrives in the prison and will learn four more: water, fire, ice and lightning. Each element is strong against another and can kill certain enemies in one attack. There is a random spell on each floor of the dungeon. However, not all elements are created equal, for example lightning is generally more useful than others.
On each floor there is also a shop whose contents vary. Offers three items, including Life Potions, Aether or Hearts, and additional Aether Points. Also, sometimes the vendor offers hearts or plain ether crystals, which are not very useful.
Since everything is random, the dungeon crossings vary in difficulty. Finding lightning first makes it easier; on the other hand, being up against other wizards early can mean premature death. The contents of the shop can also harm us if we cannot stock up on potions. The first time I went to the bottom of the dungeon, I only had five hearts, which made it impossible to defeat the boss. On the other hand, the second time I had eight, so it was a lot easier.
This possibility makes the game a little annoying, even if the intersections are quite short. Going to the bottom of the dungeon to find that you only have two magic potions, or not enough hearts, is disappointing.
But that’s not the only disappointment. There are also a lot of small technical frustrations Timeless prelude. The camera continues to get trapped in the walls. The vases sometimes remain motionless in the air, preventing us from picking them up or, conversely, come back into our hands when we press A to take another one. Enemies charge towards us, then change their minds, stop and jump in place.
The game is also very repetitive, with fights usually only lasting for an attack or two, with the exception of the last one in the dungeon. The fighting music that starts over each time adds to this feeling of eternal reboot. And if the dungeon decorations vary, the combat one always has the same opaque walls, which contrast with the more colorful floors.
After killing a number of enemies, you unlock other versions of Elijah that change things up a bit. For example, one of them doesn’t know any spells when she arrives in the dungeon, which forces us to use physical attacks. Some have fewer hearts and are therefore more fragile at the start of the game. Overall, however, these small differences fail to breathe new life into the game after a few plays.
The game can be a good introduction to roguelike and its bright colors are sure to attract the attention of younger players. But in general, this isn’t a game we’ll be returning to.