Twenty years after the blast the common population is dwindling. Struggling to get food, water, and other necessities of life the people continue to push on. If things weren't hard enough already a plague called Green Lung has a tight grip over the population. There is no cure, but a vaccine that can hold back the illness from becoming terminal. But the governing body, called The Aristocrats, are careful to whom they give out such a precious supply to. Citizens can take jobs from the government to gain a lottery ticket to try to win a vaccine for themselves or another in need. Amy Wellard starts off on one of these difficult missions risking her life for a chance of such a wonderful prize, but the events that are ahead of her are far more dangerous and heart pounding than she could have ever imagined. Shardlight is an indie point-and-click adventure by Wadjet Eye Games, the same team who also brought us Technobabylon, Gemini Rue, and Primordia. This dark and gritty post-apocalyptic tale is filled with astute puzzles, astounding artwork, and an amazing story that is easy to get lost in.
Everything in this adventure is done with the mouse. Click to interact with something, and right-click to examine. Your inventory is at the top of the screen and it should be noted that when you have the correct item for someone it is not given to them automatically. Also, there are times where you may have an idea of where you need to go for the next portion, but it won't appear on your map until you speak with the right person about it... Amy, apparently, needs the directions. But it's never too hard to do a sweep-through of everyone if you're stuck somewhere. Also, not all exits to new areas are obvious and sometimes you'll have to scan the screen with your mouse waiting for a description to pop up. But after a bit of playing the system isn't hard to get down, and it will be rare to be stuck for too long unless it's one a very clever puzzle. Shardlight is unique with its puzzle solving and you'll have to think outside the box with some of the items you use though everything is logical. It's great as everything feels so fresh. Fetch quests never feel like fetch quests and any solution you find you can credit to yourself and in-game hints and not past experience with other point-and-click games.
Shardlight deals with some heavy themes and has some really dark moments. The story itself is full of symbolism though there may be a point or too where it feels a bit preachy, but everything in the game feels very real. Death is all around and how the characters handle the events is very human. It's easy to be entranced in this world. It also helps that the voice acting is on point and the art is just vibrant and beautiful, even for a post-apocalyptic wasteland. While the game gives you three different endings and leaves the choice of which completely up to you, provided you have the right items for the right people, all of the endings, but one, are meant to leave you feeling a bit unsettled. It's clear the writer had one right ending in mind even though you may disagree. So while you have freedom to choose it's freedom to choose the "right" one. However, the right choice doesn't make you feel like you've lost something and it's easy to see why that was the truest ending. There is a great deal of beauty in this game and the story is what makes up a good part of it from start to finish.