Setting up a proper sequel can be quite challenging since you have to attract both new players as well as new ones. While some sequels will separate themselves from the previous game in the series in order to help newcomers get adjusted, others will simply assume that you have prior experience with the game without giving any information. Shalnor Legends II: Trials of Thunder thankfully allows players to set off on this adventure without any prior knowledge but is a rough experience and a hard recommendation after its opening hours.
The game starts off with a cutscene showing our main character, an orc named Mogren, sailing across the sea. He is on a quest to prove himself to his clan but things start off rough when his boat crashes on an island during a storm. Washed up on the mysterious island, our hero soon finds an ax and is summoned by the god of thunder to be his champion. Mogren has no interest in being a gods champion but instead wants to continue on his journey. Our hero has one goal in mind and wants to see it through to the end. The thunder god finds this humorous and explains that by making Mogren his champion, finishing his personal journey will be much easier than it would have been before. WIth this new ax in hand and the blessing of the Thunder god, Mogren sets off on an adventure full of mediocre peril and paper thin comedy.
Gameplay is similar to most top down adventure games such as The Legend of Zelda and Oceanhorn, where the player has a few basic actions that they can perform while they explore the map. Mogren is tasked with taking on 5 different dungeons in order to restore power to the ax given to him by the thunder god. While not extremely challenging, each dungeon consists of simple puzzles and basic enemies to take on before fighting the dungeon’s boss. As you take out enemies, Mogren will gain experience that can be used to unlock new skills during the journey. These skills can be utilized in combat but unfortunately, combat felt sluggish and dragged. When you hit an enemy they stop moving momentarily but after a slight pause, they continue right on their path. There is no knock back for enemies so if you get put in a sticky situation, things are just downhill from there.
While the story here is one of the big focuses, the writing can drag on for quite some time in an attempt to squeeze as much humor out of an interaction as possible. For instance, in the beginning, there is an elder that Mogren must seek out in order to figure out the next step on his journey. Upon finding the elder, we spend the next couple of minutes going over the fact that the elder was given a mighty responsibility and failed to listen to the gods directions. This is repeated multiple times in the same dialog section and grows tiresome quickly. Since Shalnor Legends II does not utilize the full text box space for the dialog, there felt like an excessive amount of text boxes for simple conversations. I realized this when it came time to talk to a fisherman in order to receive the fishing pole. Conversations just felt like they dragged on longer than needed to. This unnecessary padding in dialogue often means the jokes run well past the punchline and leaves you ready for it to just end.
For those looking for a short adventure to pass an evening, Shalnor Legends II is an okay title. My playthrough took me roughly 10 hours or so to see through to the end and was an alright way to pass a weekend. Unfortunately, there are a lot of better options out there when it comes to the adventure genre. While it is not terrible in any aspect, there are a lot of things that are just okay here. The visuals are passable but with some caveats. Some of the character models look extremely rough and hard to comprehend at first glance. Music is another instance of mediocracy. No tracks really stood out as exceptional or terrible during my time with the game. Everything about Shalnor Legends II just lands below average, making it extremely hard to recommend in a sea of games in the same genre.