Review: The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains
An interesting look at how the books could be adapted, but a sadly all-too-short one.
Fans of fantasy were excited to learn that a virtual reality (VR) adaptation of Brandon Sanderson’s best-selling Stormlight Archive was happening. The title has been available for a while now, putting players in the shoes of one of the main characters from the series, Kaladin Stormblessed.
Curiously, instead of being a direct adaptation of the book it is named for, The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains instead tells an original tale in the same world with the same characters, but not directly referencing the events in the book.
Back when VR was first emerging, many VR videogames and experiences were little more than extended tech demos. The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains feels much the same way, as it is very short, comprising a grand total of about 30 mins play time, and that’s if you choose to explore everywhere and try everything.
Somewhat frustratingly, despite its short length, The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains is very good. It looks great, with some nicely realised environments, interesting character designs and good animation. Movement seems to be teleport-only, which is a bit of a shame.
Other than that, you can explore the environment and engage in combat, where the Stormlight magic comes into play, allowing you to throw big rocks at your opponents. The big action sequence at the end is pretty intense, and gives you chance to really exercise your magic skills to defeat a massive scorpion-like creature. Though considering how much the Stormlight power is said to be, it feels a tiny bit underwhelming to just use it to throw things and walk up walls.
You are guided through the experience by a small fairy-like creature by the name of Syl, who provides instructions on what to do or where to go. Thankfully, she is nowhere near as irritating as Navi of Legend of Zelda fame, and is actually somewhat endearing.
Some sources are reporting that the reason for the brevity of The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains is due to it being a proof-of-concept so that the Stormlight Archive series can be shopped to film and TV studios. If that is true, then it feels a bit cheeky to be charging £8.28 for a marketing promo.
There’s a hinted-at richness in the world around you that you are only given a few tantalising glimpses of, and the indication that there is so much going on behind the scenes. In this way, it makes The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains feel much like a starter, not a main course.
The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains will be of interest to people who are big fans of Brandon Sanderson’s work, or for people who are curious about what a The Stormlight Archive TV series might feel like, anyone else will only feel frustrated a a bit short-changed by how brief and limited it all is. If this was the first part in an episodic series, it might be enough to draw interest, but otherwise its’ something best left for hardcore fans only.