Hello this is Roneranger with my first series of gaming guides for a brand new and currently early access indie game called “Shadows of Doubt”!
You Should Know Before Playing
Shadows of Doubt is a procedural generated open world detective game set in an alternate 1970’s sci-fi reality where the player is a private investigator and/or burglar for hire. The main premise of the game is to investigate murders, crimes and people to collect information and intel that leads to closing the case- or in some cases doing some generally shady things to make a buck, keep food on the table and a roof over your head.
This game only recently hit early access and is subject to change as the team works towards their release goal but let me tell you: the game in its current state is quite endearing, hilarious and generally enjoyable to play. The voxel art style, procedural generated environment, people and quests make for an interesting gaming experience and I personally am really excited to see how they continue to expand the scope of this already spectacular and bespoke gaming experience.
With any game that offers this sort of immersion, variety and freedom there can often be some stumbling blocks for the player and while there is a great in-game tutorial that teaches new players the ropes of how to begin and pursue an investigation there are still a ton of quirks and nuances to the game that currently have no introduction or explanation so I thought I would make a quick guide on 10 things I think every new player should know before playing.
1) This is not a FPS shooter.
The game does have guns, weapons and a first-person view but the emphasis of the game is on stealth, problem solving, puzzles and good old fashioned detective work. You will find that in most situations violence is to be avoided at all costs- unless you feel your life is truly in danger you should see violence as a last resort. Your goal is to solve murders not commit them!
2) Every character in the game has their own life.
Each procedural generated city has a unique population of people going about their daily grind. They have their own apartments, their own jobs, their own friends and coworkers- their own story. Whether you choose to interfere with them or not, they will go about their lives independent of your involvement. This means that if you need to check their apartment or place of employment for “clues” then understanding their daily routine is crucial to avoiding them and the people in their lives and will help reduce your involvement in their affairs. You are a private investigator, discretion is your middle name.
3) It is only a crime if you get caught.
Getting the evidence you need to catch a killer or solve a crime and finding information for your client who pays generously may require that you bend a few rules every once in a while. Certain activities will result in potential fines, arrests or even lethal force should you get caught so be aware of prying eyes, security measures and the authorities. Worst comes to worst, if you are seen committing a crime then escape is your best option. They cannot arrest you if they cannot catch you. This might initially confuse new players because the game keeps a tally of the fines you incur as a result of your crimes but it will only hold this tally as long as you are committing a crime. If you manage to escape a trespassing area or crime scene without being caught this tally will go away.
4) The streets are not safe.
Most people you will meet are unlikely to be friendly (they may even be rude) and if you’re really unlucky they might either try to rob you or fight you so be prepared throw hands, run or give up your lunch money. I prefer to use violence as a last resort in these situations as this usually happens in public and your aggression is considered a crime!
5) Home is where the heart is.
You have a very limited inventory at the start of the game and if you start with the “Dead of the Night” quest you will have a swanky apartment that has some helpful goodies to get you on your way to solving your first case as well as a spot to stash your “collected” items. In the future, having a home will help you stockpile items, take showers, keep fed, hydrated and rested. Besides, your apartment is your status symbol- when you’re raking in the crows you’ll find yourself wanting to redecorate or move into a bigger apartment. Or slum it out in government housing- the choice is up to you!
6) Disks and upgrades will help you develop your character’s skills and inventory space.
Take advantage of installing and upgrading inventory slots early on to help set you up for success in future cases. You never know what you might find or need to have with you when trying to bring justice to a murderer (or what you might want to steal along the way). There will be plenty of opportunity to upgrade and reinstall as time goes on but if you’d like to maximise the value of your bonuses then choose your benefits wisely, as you will need new disks to reinstall skills you uninstall.
7) Security systems work better than you’d think.
In addition to cameras there are silent alarms and security doors that can turn your expert super-sleuthing into a bumbling burglary real quick. Not all cameras can see in the dark but some can and the safest way to avoid detection by any potential security measure is to shut the whole thing down. If you can get access to a breaker panel connected to those systems you can shut them off momentarily and do your work in peace. These systems can also help you gather valuable intel on your victim and potential suspects so be sure to take a peek at security footage when you have access to their databases.
8) Take meticulous notes.
The first case “Dead of the Night” does a great job of setting you up for success- it practically gift wraps your first murder for you if you know how to collect information. After that point, your success will depend on the quality of your investigative work- pin all suspects, evidence, locations and any information you think is pertinent to the case. The notebook interface is great for creating wild conspiracy theory mind maps of evidence and suspects and while you can create separate tabs you are limited on how many active ones you can have so keep that in mind when handling your case load.
9) City Directories, Address Books and Employment Records are your best friends.
Gaining access to these and cross referencing information is the best way of generating leads on people and locations. Any one piece of information found on your suspects and victims can cascade into large amounts of information if you reference these databases. More than a few cases can be cracked wide open by just picking up a phone book and most of your suspects will have had some sort of existing relationship or contact to the victim.
10) Always carry a newspaper.
While there are many places to hide in the game, there are times where you can’t stuff yourself inside a kitchen cabinet or tuck under a desk. While holding a newspaper you can go incognito and bury your nose in the pages like a proper gumshoe.
BONUS: Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
You can hold many items in your hands by selecting them in your inventory and closing the interface. Add some immersion to your gaming experience- equip a cigar so you can feel like Columbo, or throw your cigar at your perp after you arrest him. Found a kitchen knife or a hammer? You can equip them during an unavoidable conflict to equalise the situation but you might find yourself on the wrong end of a murder investigation.