Eekeemoo Splinters of the Dark Shard Review

By Marc Hollinshead,
When done right, third-person action-adventure games can be brilliant titles rich in engrossing story and addictive gameplay. This genre is amongst my favourites in the industry and many of my most beloved moments have come from it. They aren't all made equal, however, and Eekeemoo Splinters of the Dark Shard unfortunately exists as an example of a genre title that misses both of those vital marks, among several others.

Eekeemoo logo

Eekeemoo Splinters of the Dark Shard initially puts you in the shoes of the titular hero, Eekeemoo, a person whom, after no obvious introduction, is out to rescue his friends and recover the heart that will restore both his own powers and ultimately save the world from the evil dark shard. This story is only told through a loading screen that lasts a few seconds and the friends that need rescuing are also introduced simply through each chapter's loading screen. The story itself is as clichéd as it gets, having you play the role of a hero of sorts, out to thwart the evil that ravages the land.

For a game that is supposed to push you forward through a story, Eekeemoo does very little to connect you to its world and people. After completing the game I'm still not sure what the dark shard actually is as it gets about one sentence of explanation. Mission and story structure that eventually become quite repetitive are at first confusing and lifeless. Aimlessly wandering about as the alleged hero isn't enough to promote either the story or the gameplay. Similarly lacking is an explanation of both the controls and what abilities you have at your disposal. Fortunately the controls are simple and a tutorial wasn't crucial to fully understanding the game anyway.

Eekeemoo 2"Where do I go?" You may be asking yourself that at first.

After you've finally got your bearings, the gameplay loop of Eekeemoo will soon reveal itself. Each of the four chapters present a different elemental theme, and you are required to navigate through each labyrinthine level until you reach one of Eekeemoo's three friends. After rescuing them, they are a controllable member of your party for the remainder of the game. Four times over you'll carry on to subsequent levels and boss battles. Without spoiling who these friends are, all of them play slightly differently and offer unique abilities. Apart from a few sections that require specific friends' abilities, though, you will quickly discover that Eekeemoo is the only character worth playing. His fighting style is easily the most reliable and everyone else's health seems to diminish at too fast a rate when faced with large crowds of enemies. If a character dies, they are inaccessible until you either reach the next part of a level or lose them all and start over. In other words, if Eekeemoo dies, then you will have a rough time on your hands until you get him back.

The enemies in Eekeemoo mostly amount to zombies. Why they happen to be zombies is anyone's guess, but they regularly appear in large numbers in efforts to quickly overwhelm you. Attacking these brainless fiends until they are destroyed will become a familiar task. Occasionally you will find larger "zombers", as the achievement tracker calls them, and these are a little more dangerous if you find yourself facing several at once. Combat frustrations result from the tedious slashing away until one of you is killed. Health pickups are sparsely littered throughout each level and enemies will drop them as well, but if you don't have access to these, you will be watching the health bar like a hawk when hacking through the enemy hordes. If you don't pick up any health in a battle against a large group of enemies, chances are you'll lose party members. There is an element of strategy once enemies start frequently dropping health items, though, as using them wisely gives you more of a fighting chance when zombies spawn at a seemingly endless rate.

EekeemooJust keep holding down RT and you'll get there.

You've made it past the zombies, rescued your friend and traversed through the dangerous maze. The final challenge is, of course, the boss. Each chapter has an encounter at the end and all of them are fairly disappointing. Like enemy hordes, all but one boss will place you in a scenario where you can't help but constantly watch your health be reduced as you relentlessly aim to deliver the killing blow sooner than they do. The exception is a boss that had me utterly confused as to how it should be killed. It wasn't until I stumbled across a new use for one of the party member's abilities that I figured it out. This was not hinted at in any way so the game simply had me running around having no idea what to do until the solution revealed itself through the bashing of buttons in the right places. This isn't brilliant game design as all it comes down to is having just enough health to stand there and bash the boss to pieces. It feels uninspired and it's yet another aspect of the game that needs improvement.

It feels like all Eekeemoo has to offer is a bland experience, but it's not all doom and gloom as the game is a quick and fairly easy ride for those who jump in. The repetitive nature of the game means that each new chapter also causes you to feel more confident as you know what to do, so nothing feels too difficult. Despite the limited amount of available chapters, each one has its own design and obstacles, such as bouncy pods in the forest or lava walls that chase you in the lava lakes. While it's nothing completely jaw-dropping, it helps to ease the repetitious nature of the game.

With only two words you can succinctly summarize Eekeemoo: missed potential. From the bosses, graphics, combat, level design, and story, all aspects feel like they fall well short of what could have been. The basics are there, but there's nothing exciting to really bring it to life.

Eekeemoo 1You won't be finding anything that looks like this in the game.

From an achievement perspective, Eekeemoo ticks all the right boxes for achievement hunters. The majority of the list will be acquired through natural play, but the one to look out for is smashing all the dark splinters. The game doesn't have a chapter select, so if you miss any of these collectibles, you will have to start again. If that is the case, though, you will quickly realise how short this game really is, so you'll have the rest of those missed splinters in no time. It's a brief and simple list that will only take you a few hours.

Summary

Eekeemoo Splinters of the Dark Shard is a game of missed potential. All the workings of an action-adventure game are there, like characters, story, and boss battles, but none of them are fleshed out enough to make the game worthwhile. It's a quick and easy jaunt for those who want only gamerscore, and each chapter is unique in design and colour, but no singular aspect of it feels like it does something special or even particularly well. Without the polish and care it needs, it is only functional, never exceptional.
4 / 10
Eekeemoo Splinters of the Dark Shard
Positives
  • A quick and easy playthrough
  • Each chapter is unique in design
Negatives
  • Story is extremely lacking
  • Combat can be unfair
  • Boss battles feel uninspired
Ethics
The reviewer spent just under 4 hours rescuing all of Eekeemoo's friends, shattering splinters and saving the world, while also obtaining all 21 of the game's achievements. A code for the game was provided by ID@Xbox for the purposes of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.