Shantae & the Seven Sirens Review – Written by Jose Vega
Review code provided by WayForward for this review.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s a term that has been used often when something that works, don’t need to be changed. It’s proven fact in many instances. Four years ago, WayForward released Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, a game that they put on Kickstarter to make it possible. It was really well received. But WayForward wasn’t done yet. Far from it. In 2019, they announced that Shantae would return in a brand new game titled Shantae and the Seven Sirens. It would first be released on Apple Arcade in 2 parts in and would come to consoles in 2020. Now that the fifth entry in the series has arrived, has WayForward pulled another success with this half-genie hero?
The story has Shantae along with her uncle & friends Sky and Bolo travel to a tropical island. There they encounter other Half-Genies like Shantae. But like all good things, there’s trouble in paradise. The Half-Genies have gone missing during a rehearsal and now Shantae must travel through this mysterious island. She’ll visit various places, explore and face new challenges, find her new friends and discover the ones responsible for it all before it’s too late.
It’s a change of pace this time around. I really did enjoy the story for this game. Not only that but the pacing itself is pretty solid. It moves at a good pace and has a beginning, middle and end. Plus it has cutscenes that cover important moments in the game. It’s really good. Also it’s a Shantae game so expect some familiar yet predictable twists as you play.
Shantae & the Seven Sirens borrows elements of Metroidvania-style platforming, that was prevalent in the first three games while adding some new stuff. They do reuse HD assets from Half-Genie Hero but it isn’t a bad thing. Shantae is still the same as she always was, a belly-dancing, hair-whipping half-genie hero. She still has access to many of her skills but this game gives her access to a few new techniques. First are the Fusion Medals. Throughout the game, you will be traveling into dungeons where the half-genies are kept. As you free each genie, they give you a medal that will Shantae access to a different ability. They are needed not only to explore the labyrinth but also to solve puzzles and find hidden items throughout the map. All of them are essential in completing the game. Oh and there are warp stations where you can warp to areas you already visited. Useful for backtracking if you’re missing anything.
Shantae’s dances don’t let her transform. Instead they give her access to specific powers after a half-genie entrusts their power to her via Fusion Stone. They can range from finding hidden items to a full-screen earthquake that damages everything. This adds to the exploration as items are hidden from sight. Not only that but the game has a card system where you can mix and match how Shantae operates. There are a total of 50 different cards that offer different advantages. Finding them is the challenging part especially when you have to make trades to get the rarest cards. Speaking of which, Shantae has a magic gauge. It’s not only used for the different dances but also for support weapons. She’s not limited to just her whipping hair. She has access to various support items that add versatility. Plus they can be upgraded to become more powerful but the only drawback is that you have to pay for them. Same for her hair too as upgrades not only let you fire them faster but also deal more damage. Since the game is generous in providing you money, it’s not a big deal. Same can be said for food. This game is way too generous when it comes to providing supplies and it lessens the challenge it gives you.
As far as length is concerned, it depends on what players will do. If you don’t care about being a completionist, the game can be beaten in a couple of hours. Though if you are to 100% the whole thing, it’ll take you roughly 8-10 hours. Replay value is high as the game also has a New Game + mode where you can start again but with all the stuff you’ve accumulated. Plus the game has many unlockables and they depend on how fast and skilled players are. It’s insane in a good way. Boss battles are in this game and they offer a good challenge. Some boss fights will require you to use skills to exploit them. They aren’t that hard. In some cases, it can just be outright easy. The bosses can be easy but getting to them are the true challenge.
The game runs solid, even in tablet mode. They did a good job. Though they did reuse sprites from Half-Genie Hero, it’s not harmful in the grand scheme of things. The backgrounds are very detailed and colorful. Plus I like how every area seems different. I don’t have any complaints on it. Music is still awesome. Jake Kaufman delivers another rocking soundtrack with some good tunes. It’s well done. There’s voice acting. Christina Vee is still phenomenal as both Shantae and Risky Boots. We also have animated cutscenes. WayForward entrusted Studio Trigger to pull them off and it’s magnificent. They are fantastic. Sure they come in instances in relation to story bits and boss introductions but they are well animated. Heck, they even made the opening for this game and it’s addicting. Awesome.
But if I were to point out any negatives, it’s that the game can feel a bit easy at times. Like I’ve said already, it’s not a bad thing. The game has enough for new people to get into and veterans to pretty much speed run the whole thing. Again. Also they do reuse sprites from the last game but they did take the liberty of designing new ones for the sake of this game. Nothing’s perfect. At least the game is still enjoyable to get into, regardless of these.
WayForward does it again with a game that delivers on all cylinders. It takes pieces from Metroidvania, incorporating it with their own style. Not only that but with a solid soundtrack, animated cutscenes and a fair amount of challenge and replayability, you have a game that will keep you busy for a while. It may not be for everyone but Shantae is a franchise that should get all the appreciation it can. It did come out on mobile but should it matter? Shantae & the Seven Sirens is worth your time and your money. This half-genie hero is waiting after all.
I give Shantae & the Seven Sirens a solid 9 out of 10. It earns my seal of approval.