For #8 this year, we have a game that just managed to get out before the end of December.
Shadowhand by Grey Alien Games is a very unassuming title. For fans of their previous game Regency Solitaire, you might think that you were getting another period-inspired casual game.
Even with the solitaire design as the base foundation, Shadowhand feels more like a puzzle and RPG game. There are a number of ways to manipulate the board and mitigate the RNG in your favor.
But the real standout and what gets Shadowhand on the list is the RPG combat. You wouldn’t associate combat and solitaire together normally, but it works in this game. Outfitting your heroine with weapons, clothing, and gear, would determine your options and utility in combat.
Translating the RNG of an RPG to the solitaire board was a great move. The later challenges proved to be more puzzle-like than just about luck. The reason was how resistances and defenses were tied to the gear and items you were using. This creates a situation where it’s not just about luck, but the skill at figuring out the best gear for the given situation.
Shadowhand is a vastly different game on hard mode vs. normal (and the game’s upcoming relaxed mode.) Playing through it on hard, I had to work for every win; both in combat levels and just getting through a solitaire match.
I would love to see things go further with the RPG layer. The game takes a bit to get going in terms of using gear and special abilities. I bet there were people who gave up on the game before the challenge showed up. That’s a shame, because Shadowhand definitely deserves a hand for taking a casual activity and bringing it to the hardcore masses.
For my #7 game, we have an amazing example of subjective difficulty.