Shantae is a tested and proven great platformer series featuring a half-genie character that has powers to transform into different animals. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a Metroidvania-style game in which secrets and areas are impossible to get to until you’ve acquired the specific abilities or items. There is a nice map that shows where you can go and it features bosses called Sirens. Shantae, the protagonist, must save other half-genies and figure out why all of them were kidnapped except her. This series is full of comic relief and has appealing music that lets you know you’re in for a good time. You can also get the game on mobile, but you’ll have a much better experience playing on a large screen with a controller.
Here’s what I liked:
It’s Good to be Back — I’ve enjoyed the other installments of Shantae and I am always thrilled when a new game in the series is released. All of the characters you know and love make their appearance on the island. Being that she can transform into various animals, you will have a variety of abilities to earn in order to traverse the island. Risky Boots is back to cause a little drama in your adventure as well. If you haven’t played any previous installment before, you’ll still have a great time completing Seven Sirens. If you’re familiar with the franchise, you already know what to expect and, like usual, it is delivered almost flawlessly.
Overall Design — Without a doubt, the game looks gorgeous. Everything from the HUD to the trees in the background look outstanding. The pause menu is even designed well. With a slanted menu, dark blue background and shaded options, it’s all smooth and elegant. To complement the scenery is a soundtrack that reflects the environment. From a poppy island vacation to the depths of a cave. It all flows into a majestic and carefully-crafted experience. One can only appreciate the amount of detail and work done to make such a neat-looking package.
Fight the Way You Want — Purple hair is your basic attack. You’ll kill most enemies with it. Upgrading comes at the price of gems, which are earned by collecting them from enemies and destroyed objects. You’ll first upgrade your hair and, eventually, options open up for attacks that use magic. There are a good amount of options to buy and use. Purchasable magic can range from a defensive bubble to a homing rocket. You can get them in pretty much any order, so the decision is yours in how the combat plays out. If you grind a little bit, you can purchase these abilities early to get a good head start. Those are the basics; then things get a bit more advanced. There is also a card feature. As you kill enemies, you gain a card that allows perks to be active. There are a whopping 50 perks that can be collected, but only three can be active at once. So while you may have a few go-to cards, there are times you might change them on the spot to defeat a specific enemy or boss. I love being able to change my loadout on a whim. It’s a blast customizing your character based on your playstyle.
Speed Demon — Speedrunning has become extremely popular. People love watching their favorite games be completed in extremely fast times. Whether it’s through glitching or just being a wizard at memorization, it adds a lot of replayability. The Shantae series seems to cater to this fascination by designing the game in a way that rewards players for completing it in under a certain time. These rewards are achievements as well as win screens (basically a wallpaper). After completing 100% of the game, I still need two more quick playthroughs to feel like I’ve done everything there is to do. I can’t do it on my own, so I’ll watch a video guide on how to complete it as quickly as possible. I love having this extra task, it really helps motivate me to play it again.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Finishing Up — Like most Metroidvania-style games, there’s always stuff you most likely need to collect to “complete everything”. You might have hearts, monster cards, or some golden nuggets to grab. The hearts and nuggets are nowhere on a map and don’t even show you how many are in each section. So in my case, I had only two left but had no clue where they were. I had to follow a written guide and then a video walkthrough, going to every single one and to see what I missed. Of course with my luck, the 49th one I just had forgotten to grab. There really should be a number assigned to the maps or a statistics page you can look at to get a hint of what you need. It made the last hours of my playthrough quite a frustrating grind. Hopefully, they will come out with an update to show you how many you have collected in each section.
Shantae does it again. With Metroidvania becoming increasingly popular, a multitude of games in the style come out each year. If you want to play an absolutely top-tier one, you can always count on this franchise. Because they are so consistent with each new title, my expectations are high yet always met. The story is an absolute blast and the dialogue is interesting to read. The only time I was not enjoying myself was while grinding out the last collectibles because the map could use a few features. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t planned to be this way, as some people do like discovering everything without hints. But yes, basically if you’re a Metroidvania platforming fan, you cannot go wrong with any of the Shantae games.
Score: Must Buy
Shantae and the Seven Sirens was published by and developed by WayForward on Xbox One. It was released on May 28, 2020, for $29.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.