Whoa, it’s magic

Shantae is one of those franchises I have always felt should be mentioned alongside titles like Mega Man and Metroid. Over the years it has continued its consistency and always managed to keep things fresh with its game play and charm. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is no exception, in fact it might just be the best game in the series to date. Continuing the trend of incredible artwork and animation and taking the series back to its more Metroidvania roots, this latest iteration is by far the best I have played in the genre in quite a while.

The plot this time around involves Shantae and her normal repertoire of companions heading to an island for a Half-Genie performance. She meets up with other Half-Genies to put on a show only to have it thwarted when the other members of her performance are kidnapped. Thus begins the journey to rescue them. Sure, it is fluff, but it is fun fluff. The new animated cutscenes are really well done even if there are only a handful of them and the voice acting continues to be as charming as ever.

MSRP: $29.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, Switch, PC, Mobile
Price I’d Pay: $29.99

The Shantae games have always been rooted in their Metroid-style game play. With Seven Sirens the series returns to a more open map with color-coded areas as opposed to Half-Genie Hero’s more level-based design. Each area is themed and most contain a dungeon where players solve puzzles and battle a boss character. The pattern is evident very early on. Each dungeon will offer up a new ability, thus unlocking the path to more areas and collectibles. It is a tried and true formula and works well here.

Each area also unlocks a warp point that allows Shantae to move around the island quicker. While it is nice to be able to move between areas quickly, the load time between them, even when not using the warp points, is longer than it should be. To the point where I audibly sighed every time I hit one. This becomes more of an issue upon working towards the 100% collection after finishing the game.

Shantae’s new powers are a lot like her old ones. Instead of dancing to transform, these new powers are instead tied to simple button presses. For example, the dash Newt is used by pulling the trigger, as is the Tortoise slam. Dancing is still a part of the game and instead creates effects on the screen such as revealing hidden items or shaking the ground itself to move background objects. Each power opens up new areas to explore and items to collect, and creates a nice ebb and flow of progress. I was never bored in my entire playthrough, which lasted right around ten hours.

If there is one glaring issue I had with the game, it is one that most Shantae games have suffered from. That would be a lack of direction. Sometimes it can be confusing what to do next; even when the NPCs spell it out, it wasn’t always clear what my next objective was. A marker on the map would have helped. Speaking of which, the map could use some upgrades. There are cave challenges that reward players with health upgrades, but most of the time when I found one, I didn’t have the ability just yet. These are not marked on the map so when I finally had said power, I had no idea where that cave actually was. Checklists for a game that involves collectibles is pretty much a necessity now, and Seven Sirens just doesn’t have it.

The new addition to Seven Sirens is the monster cards. These are dropped by each enemy at random and when a collection is made, Shantae can equip a passive ability such as being able to crawl faster or making more gems appear. This is a nice feature that adds some much-needed perks. I could equip three at a time and the boss cards are actually sold by NPCs in various towns for golden nuggets. These cards are the most powerful as they can do things such as negate damage. There is a lot to collect in this game, and going back after completion is definitely worth it. There are plenty of secrets and extra endings that make the replay worth it.

WayForward continues to deliver in the style department. The visuals and animation here are outstanding. The game simply pops in every facet. The colors are excellent and the animation is just incredible at times. It really looks like a cartoon come to life. I love the enemy designs and so many of the characters are interesting and memorable. The writing is on-point and the aforementioned cutscenes really do add a new flavor to the series.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a great addition to the series and a return to its more Metroidvania roots. I loved it a lot more than the last iteration and continue to look forward to each new chapter. While the series is not as well-known as other games, I feel like it should be. The quality is there and each version just seems to add enough new to keep it fresh. This is a title that should not be overlooked, and it is available on absolutely everything, so there is no excuse not to give it a go.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Beautiful art style and characters
  • Game play feels great
  • Wonderful music
  • Wish the map had more explanations
  • Lack of direction at times
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.