Shadows of Doubt Early Access review

by on April 28, 2023
Reviewed On
Release Date

April 24, 2023


I’ve never played anything like Shadows of Doubt before. From its premise, I was rather dubious before diving in and how good a procedurally generated detective thriller could be, and how it would actually work. However, after hours trying to solve the initial tutorial murder, and time spent in my first sandbox city trying to catch a killer, I can honesty say this is the one of the smartest games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. By no means is it all smooth sailing, and there were a fair amount of technical issues that stopped me dead in my tracks, but the nuts and bolts of it kept me hooked, and quite often, scratching my head.

Set in the 1980s, you’re a private investigator who lives in a broken down apartment, trying to make money by taking on cases that have the potential to keep you paying your rent and partaking in the vices that the city provides. By finding clues, talking to suspects, and following leads, you’ll grow closer to finding who the killer is, but it’s the complete freedom you’re given to do so where Shadows of Doubt is at its best. I was staggered by what options are available to you. From where information can be found and your management of vital details, to investigating an apartment building and planning every aspect of entering and escaping.

I don’t want to keep hitting the point home about how free you are in your approach to each case, but you can literally do whatever you want, however you want, and in any order you want. I spent my first few hours investigating a lead in an office building, with security cameras watching everyone coming and going. I found a box which I was able to place under one of the cameras, using lockpicks to turn it off so that I could then try and unlock the door to get me inside. After finally breaking in unseen, I found tons more security cameras inside, right in the path of where I needed to get to. There were vents in the roof I made use of so that I wouldn’t have to hack every camera, leading to a locked room which was home to a generator.

After finding the code to unlock the electric door, I got inside and turned the cameras off. This allowed me to explore freely, albeit cautiously. If I made too much noise, someone passing might investigate, and it would undo all my hard work. If you break and enter, steal important documents, or commit anything considered a crime, it will rack up a cost that, if caught, would have to be paid. At one time during my investigation, I was injured and sent to hospital where I had to decide whether or not I would pay my medical bills or try and escape, which is an entirely different story.

Anyway, back to the snooping around the office. I headed to the victim’s desk to find his fingerprints all over it, however, there were other people’s fingerprints there as well. I kept track of these on my investigation board, one of Shadow of Doubt’s most vital tools. Here, you can pin any information you find relevant to it, connect certain pieces of evidence with a red thread, connect evidence that may lead to the downfall of a suspect, and organise every detail no matter how seemingly unimportant it is, in any way you want. As your investigation progresses, you’ll start to disregard shreds of information, helping to declutter the board and start to gain a more streamline investigation.

Once I’d recorded details of these fingerprints, I was able to find the boss’ office with details on every employee in her filing cabinet. Details about these employees gave me an idea if they might have had a potential problem with the victim, what they were like to work with, and how this could impact my thought process. I thought back to the crime scene where I saw a red stiletto and lipstick, and then, as I looked on the boss’ PC, I thought about how she had joined a dating website and whether she might have tried to look nice for someone, perhaps the victim, and whether a mutual trip to a bar led to murder. Did the victim come on to her and she hit out in self-defence, or was there something more sinister going on?

Maybe it wasn’t the boss at all and I was jumping down the wrong rabbit hole. All these thoughts go through your head, and it’s only after you start to find that integral piece of the puzzle to these questions become clearer. The thing is, it can be incredibly tough to get anywhere of note. Shadows of Doubt’s freedom is also its curse. Much like being a real private investigator (I assume), your success relies on your smarts. Thinking outside the box can lead to success, but knowing where to go or where to look can be a game of chance as much as it can be through intelligence and attention to detail. Regardless, I loved just how you’re free to play however you want.

There’s so much to do in Shadows of Doubt, from rifling through filing cabinets and cupboards, talking to people, hacking computers, security systems and locked doors, exploring the city, piecing together your case via mountains of documents and clues, and more. It’s a detective game with massive scale, and despite the game freezing when going into the option screen on multiple occasions and having to restart from prior save points, I enjoyed it immensely. Hopefully these issues will be resolved during the Early Access period because it has great potential going forward. It never holds your hand, allowing you to be the closest thing to a PI as you’ll likely get, unless you actually do the job for a living.


Plenty of freedom to play how you want
So many fun paths of investigation to follow
Smart gameplay


Lack of handholding might frustrate some players
Technical issues hamper enjoyment

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Shadows of Doubt is an incredibly smart and intricate detective thriller, giving you tons of freedom that can be both a blessing and a curse.