After Half-Genie Hero dropped the interconnected world of the previous Shantae games in favor of a level-based structure with no overarching plot, I was thrilled to learn the next game would return to the old style.
Indeed, Shantae and the Seven Sirens features a large world with Metroidvania-style progression, towns and dungeons, and a new plot as Shantae’s tropical vacation for the Half-Genie Festival is interrupted when the other half-genies are kidnapped!
Transformations have been streamlined a bit this time around, since instead of dancing to turn into a new form, you can transform instantly.
That does take away a little bit of the magic, but on the other hand, it makes everything feel so much faster and snappier. Meanwhile, you learn additional dance-based powers separate from the transformations.
Seven Sirens also introduces Monster Cards, a special type of collectible you get by fighting monsters that can be equipped for passive bonuses. This feature is pretty neat, and between that, the usual magic attacks, and the new powers, it feels like you have more options in Seven Sirens than ever.
At the same time, though, it also seemed easier than previous games to me… in the sense that I could eat damage while spamming attacks and then just heal because healing was so plentiful.
But I don’t play a Shantae game for some sort of hardcore combat; I want to explore dungeons and unlock new areas. As I played through Seven Sirens, I was delighted as I worked my way through the interconnected world and spotted areas I knew I’d need to return to later once I had more powers, and everything felt so good that I considered it might be the best Shantae game yet.
However, now that I’ve finished, I would still rank Pirate’s Curse ahead of this one. Seven Sirens has a big world to explore, and that’s great – but it makes backtracking for Heart Squids and other items tedious since there’s no way to track them.
By the time I had all my powers, I remembered areas I wanted to return to, but I’d opened up so many locations on the map that I couldn’t remember where they were without slowly backtracking through each area to see if I’d missed anything. Pirate’s Curse and Half-Genie Hero both indicated how many collectibles remained in a given area, so I wish they’d done something similar here.
And while I was happy to see an overarching story return, and there are some great character interactions, it could have done more (especially when it comes to the half-genies, who barely play a role as characters) to really stand out.
But hey, being my second-favorite Shantae game isn’t bad by any means! Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a really fun game and a wonderful return to form despite some frustrations, and I hope the next game they make will be even better!---
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