There's still time to check out upcoming stealth platformer Ereban: Shadow Legacy's Steam Next Fest demo, which takes Splatoon-inspired movement into a tense stealth experience.
I've been waiting to hear more about Ereban: Shadow Legacy since it was first revealed at the Xbox and Bethesda showcase back in 2022, and this short and sweet demo is a great introduction to its excellent Shadow Merge mechanic. In short, it’s just like the Splatoon Inklings' ink-diving abilities, but instead of swimming through paint, protagonist Ayana glides through the shadows.
The demo lets you try out just one mission very early in the game after Ayana has been rescued from the grasp of the Helios megacorporation. After a quick tutorial, the objective is simple: take down a comms jammer. The problem is there's a whole army of Helios robots patrolling the areas between you and that jammer. And these robots don't mess around either; once they grab you, you’re done for.
Thankfully, the gigantic rock formations, towers, and numerous buildings provide plenty of shade for you to slink into with Shadow Merge. At first this ability is neatly presented as a platforming and puzzle-solving tool, but when you encounter your first robot, you have the option to invisibly approach and go for an assassination or use the movement aspects of Shadow Merge to find a way around. It's such a neatly versatile ability, and I love the possibilities it offers when it comes to both movement, stealth, and lethal or non-lethal approaches – it reminds me a lot of the original Dishonored in that way.
I got to the end of the demo in about 37 minutes after spending a long time exploring to find all sorts of materials for upgrades, assassinating pretty much every robot I found, and getting caught when I didn't use Shadow Merge properly. Upon finishing a mission, you get a stat card which tells you your time, how many kills you got, and most importantly, your rank. I got a C.
Not accepting that score, I immediately reloaded the mission with the goal of earning the "Ghost" and "Merciful" medals for no kills and no detections. After a couple of attempts, I managed to figure out some optimal paths, darting through the shadows to reach rooftops or avoid the gaze of some Helios robot. I felt like a professional speedrunner when I got that S rank in under 5-minutes with both medals.
Ereban: Shadow Legacy doesn't have a solid launch date just yet, but Baby Robot Games say it's coming to Xbox Series X/S (including a launch on Xbox and PC Games Pass), and Steam at some point in 2024. All the more reason to practice your Shadow Merge skills with the Steam Next Fest Demo while it's here.