What we got was something completely different. Shadows Remain is an episodic, psychological horror where you spin a rotatable virtual room around on its axis and tap highlighted picture frames and half-mangled teddy bears to progress the story.
Reminiscent of the likes of The Room, you need to follow visual and audio clues to uncover all the secrets and help a mother rescue her son from dark, malevolent forces.Carry on my wayward floating living room!
Finding a reliable surface did present some initial issues as Shadows Remain is quite picky about where it lets you place the playspace, but eventually my kitchen worktop did the trick and I was able to dive in.
It immediately becomes apparent that Shadows Remain has some high quality AR production values, both in terms of how stable it is, but also how easy it is peer around corners and get in close on the action.
Several AR games have a tendency to distort and stretch the environment if you pull away or move your phone just slightly, but once you've found the sweet spot, Shadows Remain can be very immersive.
You'll be frantically spinning the room around trying to find the next clue, listening closely for the subtle disturbances in the background, and keeping a keen eye open for unexpected flashes.
Shadows Remain is much more interactive and alive than the likes of Criminal Cases. Things can happen out of sight of the camera, like the television turning on by itself, and objects appear out of nowhere. Events also happen at different intervals in order to push the story along
Still, you feel that Shadows Remain Chapter One is just giving you a glimpse of the full picture. The puzzles aren't particularly challenging and the experience is quite short There are also some interface issues and unusual delays in the menus when buttons don't respond to your taps.
The voice acting also feels a touch out of character. The mother, in particular, sounds less terrified at the prospect of losing her son, more overjoyed that she's in the middle of a supernatural thriller.
Issues aside, I like what I see here and I think Halfbrick might be onto something special with Shadows Remain. In this case, AR is not only enhancing the experience, but carving a whole new niche out for itself.
Shadows Remain will be released over the course of a year with additional chapters to be added in the coming months. There's even a little survey for you to take which lets you have your say on the monetary model, and how fleshed out the chapters will be.
On the whole, Halfbrick has gone for a more mature, perspective-altering experience and managed to get the tone mostly right. It'll be very interesting to see how it take the series forward in 2018.