Shantae is a classic Metroidvania platformer that has made a comeback again this generation. It first started with a Kickstarter for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero that turned out to be a roaring success. Not only was the project a roaring success, but it also brought the series back to modern platforms with ports of the older games releasing on the likes on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a brand new adventure featuring the titular character in a new environment and deals with new story elements.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens is more of a light-hearted adventure. It starts with Shantae and her friends arriving on Paradise Island for the Half-Genie Festival. During this festival, she becomes friends with other Half-Genies however as soon as the festival opens, trouble starts brewing as the Half-Genies mysteriously disappears leaving Shantae as the only Half-Genie who has to find them and solve this mystery.
The game features an interconnected world with minimal load times in between the different areas. Players have access to a giant map that can be used to progress through the different areas while secrets are hidden across every corner. Shantae won’t have her transforming abilities at the start and will gradually unlock them as you make progress in the story. Just like a typical Metroidvania platformer, new paths will open as you unlock her different abilities letting you discover collectibles like Heart Squids that increase the maximum health.
The visual style is similar to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero with gorgeous animated characters and splendid backgrounds. The gameplay combines exploration with platforming and adds a dose of combat with enemies and huge boss battles that are full of spectacle and tense moments. The issue is how the gameplay loop feels repetitive with a lack of diverse enemy variety and lackluster puzzles. There is a lack of new gameplay innovations aside from a card-based system that has to be equipped by Shantae.
Players can defeat enemies a certain number of times to grab a card from them. This card is dropped randomly so there is no certain way to determine how to make the enemy drop it. Once you have obtained the card, depending on how many cards are needed, you can equip it afterward to unlock certain skills or stat-boosting effects. The effects of these can range from the ability to crawl faster, sustain less damage, or so on.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens has a couple of animated sequences that are used to showcase important story beats. This makes the game feel like it has a decent budget and leads to an overall better presentation. The story, though, is passable at best and the narrative suffers from pacing issues. The opening starts brilliantly but as you make your way further into the Sunken City, the plot takes a backseat to the exploration.
This is a great game to play on the Nintendo Switch. I noticed that the overall visual fidelity was good enough on the Nintendo Switch when playing in the portable mode, but the sharpness of the image was reduced which makes it feel like this is not running at the native resolution. Aside from this minor qualm with the image quality, there weren’t any other major issues. Perhaps, the load times are a bit too frequent but I wasn’t bothered by them.
The combat system is good enough but I wouldn’t rate it any higher than something like Metroid or Hollow Knight. This is a platformer first and foremost with a tinge of combat on the side. Exploration is great in Shantae because you have multiple ways to approach a level. Shantae can transform into other creatures that give her a new method to traverse a level. She can also use abilities that allow her to reveal hidden secrets. In addition to this, it is satisfying to collect the various Monster Cards which gives some meaning to killing the same enemies again. This can be a bit frustrating because they usually respawn once you move from one screen to next.
While this sequel is not as good as Half-Genie Hero, fans of the series can still find it enjoyable. Some familiar faces will return in this entry which should please the fans. It is clear now that if WayForward has to move the franchise forward, they need to think of offering something new instead of a rehash of the same old.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Shantae is back in an all-new tropical adventure! In her fifth outing, the Half-Genie hero gains new Fusion Magic abilities to explore a vast sunken city, makes new Half-Genie friends, and battles the Seven Sirens in her biggest, most thrilling quest yet!
Final Score - 7.5/107.5/10
Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a charming and whimsical Metroidvania adventure that suffers from a case of repetition. It is still highly enjoyable if you have loved the series so far but it is clear that the formula has to be freshened up for any potential sequel.