Detective sim Shadows of Doubt heads into Steam Early Access


Immersive sims are one of PC gaming's most prestigious genres. Born at Looking Glass Studios with Ultima Underworld, and popularised through games like Thief, System Shock, and, later, Deus Ex, the immersive sim is designed around giving the player maximum freedom in approaching their objectives, usually in flexible sandbox environments where you can fight, sneak, or hack your way towards your goals. 

Now, Shadows of Doubt is taking that template, and ambitiously applying it to an urban detective sandbox.

The game casts you as a private detective, solving crimes in a soaking-wet nocturnal city filled with hundreds of people going about their lives. It embraces the freedom of immersive sims, layering that over with highly detailed crime-solving tools and mechanics to let you crack the case your way. 

suspect being handcuffed in Shadows of Doubt

(Image credit: Fireshine Games)

Now that Shadows of Doubt is coming to Steam Early Access, it's time to head down into those neon-soaked streets and dig a bit deeper into how this fascinating game works.

Each time you start a new game in Shadows of Doubt, the city and its citizens are procedurally generated. You'll get your first case–a basic lead such as an address or phone number–and the rest is up to you. Maybe you'll go straight to the grisly crime scene, scan for fingerprints, trace phone calls, look through the trash for any paperwork that might point you in the right direction. 

Or maybe you'll find another way, sneaking into the backroom of a chemist in the middle of the night, stealing some heavyweight pharmaceuticals, then escaping through a vent duct. That duct might lead you to an office, where you break into a computer, and learn about all the employees, only to later find that the victim did indeed work in the building you just broke into, and had some 'interesting' email exchanges with one of their colleagues. You bring up your pinboard, and, like the good PI you are, stick photos of 'persons of interest' on there, using little bits of string to create a bespoke web of connections and leads to follow up on. 

Pin board in Shadows of Doubt

(Image credit: Fireshine Games)

But as dawn approaches and you know people will start trickling into work, it's time to leave without a trace. You hack into the security room using a code you found on a post-it note, review the footage to see if there were interactions between the victim and one of their colleagues, then make your escape back through the vent you came from.

That scenario is just one of the endless possibilities generated by Shadows of Doubt. As you make money from cases, you can invest in better equipment, improve your skills, and take on bigger, more dangerous cases in a city full of locked doors hiding all manner of sordid secrets. Will you bribe people into giving information, fight them, or avoid people altogether and solve the cases on your own terms? That, Detective, is entirely up to you.

Shadows of Doubt launches on Steam Early Access April 24, 2023.  So put on your Homburg hat and trench coat, and head out into its pouring night of possibilities as it begins its journey to full release. To have your input into how that journey goes, join the game's Discord channel, and you can also follow Shadows of Doubt on Twitter