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Shades: Shadow Fight Roguelike Beginner’s Guide: Tips, Tricks & Strategies to Become the Ultimate Warrior

The road to becoming the ultimate warrior is an unforgiving, uphill climb.

Training is a must and perfection in your form is tantamount, but other than that, you must also face the fears and weaknesses within you. To overcome this requires peace of mind, determination, and the willpower to succeed. Only a true martial artist can harness the power of their own technique and become their own master if they want to survive in cruel times. When the sky split open, the warriors Shadow, May, and Sly have sought their missing Sensei.

Upon leaping through the fracture in the sky, Shadow had discovered that Sensei had become more powerful, harnessing fragmented Shadow Energies called Shades which invoke extraordinary powers, making his martial ability unparalleled.

But Shadow had to save his master from this madness and bring him back to the physical plane. When Sensei had regained his state of mind, he told his students to investigate the true nature of the sky fractures and uncover the powers that lie within the Shades.

shades shadow fight roguelike title
Amidst leaves that fall
A lone warrior readies
Their razor steel edge

Veteran games developer Nekki, known for its Shadow Fight franchise brings to you a spinoff of said franchise in a brand-new kind of fighting game never seen before: Shades. Leap into the fractures, face gauntlets of warriors who have come before you, and uncover the hidden powers of the mysterious Shades.

With the world at the brink of a possible collapse and with chaos ensuing across all the land, it’s all up to Shadow to become the ultimate warrior in this heart-stopping, gut-wrenching, butt-kicking fighting game right at your fingertips. But as we’ve said earlier, becoming the ultimate warrior is no easy feat. You’ll be bruised, bled, and broken several times over. If you’re here because you, too, have come to find out the true nature of the Shades, then you’ve come to the right place!

Strap your white belt on and peruse our beginner’s guide below—there’s plenty to learn and we’ll go through it a punch and a kick at a time!

Cool Shades! Try them on? Yes.

shades shadow fight roguelike gameplay
As swift as the gale, as turbulent as the storm.

No, Shades aren’t the black or colored spectacles that keep your eyes protected from bright lights. They aren’t malevolent ghosts that are out to get you either. But let’s back up a little for anyone confused reading this.

The developers of Shades, Nekki (not to be confused with NIKKE, that’s a game and a completely different topic), has been widely known for a long time for creating the flash game Shadow Fight.

As opposed to most fighting games where each character had defined features and designs, Shadow Fight was unique in that everything was actually a silhouette. You can even customize your own silhouette. They eventually branched out into making sequels of this title, turning it into a full-blown franchise with an in-depth story, major characters that have a part to play in said story, and most importantly, lore.

Shades is a spinoff of Shadow Fight and it somehow revisits its roots from the first game. The classic 2D silhouettes are back but the game itself has an interesting gimmick to add to its already fun fighting mechanic. Combos, jumping, head strikes, and weapons aside, Shades throws in a roguelite (not to be confused with roguelike) twist to the game in the form of the many powerups which are the eponymous Shades.

shades shadow fight roguelike blades
Not all blades are made equal.

To further illustrate our point, this game is a roguelite—a genre of action game wherein the player can strengthen themselves with an array of temporary powerups during a session. We say temporary because when a run comes to an end, be it in victory or defeat, the player doesn’t get to keep these.

However, there are means outside of the session to strengthen the player character and that usually involves the investment of in-game currency. In this case, gear and talents (which we will talk about soon). That said, fighting is the law of the land in Shades, and honing your own skill is important as a player.

We’ll get one thing out of the way before we proceed: you will lose. A lot. But don’t worry—loss is a part of the game as we’ll tackle this topic soon as a means for you to become a better player. Let’s pump those martial artist muscles!

To Become a Master of the Shades

Fighting and breaking your enemies is the easy part. Can you truly become a master of the Shades or will they become your master? Fret not, o fledgling warrior, your mind is like a sponge. Take heed of what we have to impart unto you and prepare to become the greatest fighter you can be!

1. Practice Your Fighting Technique

shades shadow fight roguelike first strike
With talon and speed does the falcon strike like a punch… okay, that one was a bit on the nose.

First, we familiarize you with the most basic concept of all: the controls of the game.

While it may seem like a no-brainer with the joypad, punch button, and kick button, there are a few things you should always keep in mind when trying to move your character. There are some basic maneuvers you can practice on the foe whenever you find yourself in the ring. Learning these maneuvers and applying them could make you a more skilled fighter than you already are. But first—the striking.

shades shadow fight roguelike rage
The horse leaps and delivers its rage.

Punches and kicks are the essentials of combat. Sometimes, if your character is equipped with a weapon, your punches default to swinging that weapon about. However, don’t swing your weapon around thoughtlessly. It could put your character in danger by leaving them completely open to the enemy’s strikes.

Kicking, on the other hand, is a better means of opening an attack toward the enemy since, physiologically, a person’s legs make up at least 40% of their entire height. If your weapons are shorter than your legs, start kicking and swing your steel when you get close.

Otherwise, make an opening using your weapon and try to get the upper hand early. Though, longer weapons tend to be much slower in speed compared to shorter ones. Weapons, punches, and kicks aside, let’s now talk about more dynamic techniques.

shades shadow fight roguelike danger
The tortoise retreats into its shell when danger nears.

Blocking is an underrated technique that will save your hide. Not all fights have to be lightning quick and aggressive—sometimes, it takes efficiency in order to win with minimal damage. To block an attack, you simply just need to not move.

That said, moving left or right will cause your character to stop blocking, so whether you’re standing upright or crouching low, do not move. Crouching without moving will block low attacks whereas standing upright without moving will block most mid to high attacks. Just be careful of attacks to your head—those are better off dodged!

shades shadow fight roguelike rolling
Roll like a stone—be firm and unbreakable.

Synonymous to dodging, rolling is a great way to get behind or away from your opponent. To roll, simply pull the joystick down and tilt it to either the left or the right. Although it might look tedious or seem like it takes up a lot of time to execute this simple maneuver, it’s quite the lifesaver in terms of trying to play defensively or a deadly means to execute a counterattack.

While rolling, your character gains a brief window of invincibility, meaning they are impervious to some attacks perhaps save for some low kicks. Once you’re away from the enemy, you can briefly assess the situation. Conversely, when the enemy is completely open from your dodge, give them your all.

shades shadow fight roguelike jump
Take flight on the wings of a hawk.

Lastly, there’s the jump which can also be used aggressively or defensively. To jump, tilt the joystick upward in a forward or backward direction. You may also tilt it directly upward to avoid low sweeps. In many cases, jumping at your opponent with a flying kick is an effective head attack but the caveat here is that you can get punished by the enemy if the kick doesn’t connect. Consider this a high-risk, high-reward technique.

There is a special kind of jump that you should try to use, however, since it will save your life many times over.

2. Don’t Get Cornered

shades shadow fight roguelike cornered
You could leap like a freak and give them a back-stabbing eel strike.

Some fights can get really heated and could really push either fighter to the edge of the arena.

It’s a death sentence to keep taking hits here. Just like in real life, fighting in a corner is risky business and could even result in the cornered fighter’s defeat. Thankfully, in Shadow Fight, a mechanic has been implemented to alleviate this problem and keep the fight more exciting. This feature is in Shades as well.

Rolling out if the way from a corner is one way to escape, but a dynamic and more unpredictable means of escaping a corner brawl is to wall jump. Doing this is as simple as it sounds—tilt the joystick upward in the direction of the wall. When correctly done, and you’ll see your fighter perform a spectacular feat of agility wherein they will leap at the wall and bound off of it, landing with a roll out of harm’s way.

At the very least, this maneuver will give you distance between an attacker that closed in or give you enough breathing room for a counterattack. After a wall jump, you may choose to roll backward or fight back ferociously.

However, this is a case-to-case basis since some fights really can be more difficult than others wherein the enemy might be more skilled or better equipped. Generally, wall jumping is always a decent and viable tactic of getting out of a corner.

Wall jumping can also be used offensively but it will require you to back your fighter into a wall on purpose. Bait the enemy into coming towards the wall and then make your leap. If you’re successful enough, your wall jump should’ve bust the enemy’s defense wide open and they’re ready for a butt-whooping. Though, smarter enemies might catch on and try to bait you into getting close to them instead, so pay attention to your enemy’s movements before trying to attempt this.

Apart from wall jumping, there’s yet another decent and viable tactic in a fight but this sometimes can be frowned upon.

3. Cheap Shots End Fights

shades shadow fight roguelike shin tap
A plausible technique: the shin tap.

Before we delve into this bullet, let us make it perfectly clear: it’s not cheating, it’s fighting smart.

Any fighting game veteran knows what cheap shots are. They’re annoying, they’re a handful to counter, and they’re spammy (meaning they can be done repeatedly much to the receiver’s annoyance). If these aren’t long-ranged fireball projectiles or eye beams that can be shot from the other side of the screen, they can be low attacks that can catch anyone completely off-guard.

Thankfully, Shades is somewhat a little more realistic in its approach when it comes to fighting techniques, so the most you have to worry about is a low kick. But it’s these low kicks that are important when it comes to ending a fight quickly.

When you think about it, low kicks or sweeps don’t seem very glamorous or stylish. They aren’t as flashy as a flying kick, you won’t be scoring head damage as much, and it doesn’t do so much damage. But what’s really important about the low kicks is that they still do damage. If anything, they’re a great way for you to get in close to the enemy while at the same time throwing them off balance.

The animation is quicker than that of a flying kick and you’ll be quick to punish any of the enemy’s mid to high attacks that you’ve dodged by crouching. You will, however, need to look out for the enemy’s knee, because that will almost guarantee a head attack from them if you’re getting up from the crouch.

The knee itself is also a cheap strike worth mentioning. With its closer-ranged counterpart, the elbow, using the knee repeatedly can cause some serious damage to your opponent. Its speed is quick, and the enemy might not even see it coming. To execute either a knee or an elbow, you simply need to bring your fighter very close to your opponent, possibly right in their face.

If at the correct distance and if your opponent doesn’t move backward, pressing the punch or kick button will cause your character to throw their elbow up or thrust their knee forward, respectively, at the enemy. If circumstance is at your side, an elbow can result in a head attack!

If the opponent is extremely unlucky and you happen to have put them on the ground, you may kick them while they’re down. This will very quickly bring their life bar down because ground attacks have rather fast animations. It’s even better if you’ve thrown the opponent into shock, wherein they’ve let go of their weapons due to a head attack. This is why head attacks are extremely important as well.

While it’s tempting to just dive into the fight, fists a-flailing, you’re more than likely to be smacked in the face or worse. The next bullet talks about a deadly technique your opponents won’t see coming.

4. Patience is a Weapon

shades shadow fight roguelike patience
Only two kinds of people strike the air: students and fools.

You enter the fight and you notice immediately that your enemy has made a move. How do you move in for the kill?

As we’ve said, diving straight first in the hopes of landing a combo or two on the enemy is suicide since the enemy will most likely find a way to exploit your movements and counter them with extreme prejudice.

A better course of action in this case is to lie in wait and strike like the viper. Coil yourself in place and once the enemy has made their move and left themselves wide open, strike hard and strike fast. You’ll be sure to gain the upper hand in the fight.

This technique can be applied in many fights, especially for more aggressive enemies. If you feel like they’ll be out to strike you first, you may need to prepare to dodge or back yourself into a corner so you can perform a wall jump. You may also roll away from them in order to gain distance from them.

The key here is to catch them at a moment wherein they aren’t attacking anymore or if their attack leaves a wide opening. Once they’ve been given a dose of their own medicine, try not to let up or you’ll be on the receiving end again. An easy way you can find an opening for a counterattack is to learn how to crouch properly.

It’s worth noting that crouching has only a window of animation. This means that when you pull the joystick down, your character doesn’t stay crouched compared to most fighting games like Street Fighter, Tekken, or King of Fighters.

That said, in Shadow Fight (in general), crouching is more like a “dodge” than to actually crouch. This is akin to a parry from games like Soul Calibur or Dark Souls wherein the timing of your crouch matters in avoiding an attack entirely.

Your character will briefly dip downward to avoid high attacks, so try to keep this in mind each time you attempt to crouch from the enemy’s onslaught. Jumping is the same since it’s a little hop that only briefly evades low attacks.

With the mention of jumping, we’d like to also point out that keeping your jumping attacks to a minimum is a good technique. Granted that jump attacks are quite powerful and they are more likely to strike the enemy at the head than any other part of their body, they may also leave you wide open if you’ve missed.

Especially if you’re starting out, try to avoid executing these since it may do more harm than good to your fighter. There’s nothing more embarrassing than to have been knocked down from your flying kick (and lose your weapons from going into shock, no less).

Now that we’ve covered most of the actual fighting techniques in this game, let’s proceed to how the Shades work and how they can grant you immense power.

5. Pick a Strategy to Your Shades

shades shadow fight roguelike shade selection
Pick one and harness its power.

We’ve mentioned that the Shades themselves grant you otherworldly abilities, but what exactly do they do?

Just like powerups in a roguelite game, Shades are given to you at random each time you complete a fight and they’re shown to you in batches of threes. All Shades grant your fighter enhancements to their abilities such as more health, more attack, a shield that protects you from damage every few other seconds, and more.

You might think that grabbing each and every single Shade that you can, to cover all bases, is a good idea (i.e. investing in defensive abilities and offensive abilities altogether). But we’re here to tell you that choosing random Shades at a time is not great since it stretches your fighter’s abilities out a little too thinly. Sure, they’ll be a jack-of-all-trades, but being a master of none could become a death sentence in this game, which brings us to our next point.

It’s best to stick to a single strategy when it comes to picking Shades. If you have decided to pick the majority of Shades that make you hit harder, then consistently pick Shades that grant you more attack power. We recommend anything from the School of the Tiger or Shades like Survival Instinct and/or Killer Instinct to make your fighter hit harder. If you’ve started out picking Shades that improve your fighter’s durability and endurance, stick to this and make them outlast your opponents with sheer defense. Any Shade from the School of the Bear or any Shade that bestows a shield unto your fighter will definitely be needed.

shades shadow fight roguelike shade selection 2
The gold ones are aglow with mystery and hidden strength.

Another side note we’d like to mention is that each Shade has a color: blue, purple, and gold. Blue Shades are of the common rank, purple Shades are of the epic rank, and gold shades are of the legendary rank.

That said, the power of each Shade increases dramatically with the rank it has but that doesn’t mean to say that common-ranked Shades are useless. Blue Shades are already quite common, so getting a lot of them would most certainly aid in making your character stronger in a more consistent way.

Usually, gold Shades come from defeating a particularly difficult opponent, so these are much rarer to come by. Just remember to stick to your strategy—just because you’ve picked out a predominantly offensive set doesn’t mean you should squander the chance to get an offensive gold Shade. Make it count!

While the Shades change the way you fight in a particular way, no fighter is without their gear.

6. Upgrade Your Gear

shades shadow fight roguelike gear upgrade
Forged through honest work and the dreams of the people.

As you fight through different waves of enemies, you’ll soon find that these enemies will start to get more difficult to take down each time.

You’ll start out with a pair of knuckle dusters. But with the enemy armed to the teeth with daggers, knives, kunai, tonfa, axes, and others weapons, how could your humble knuckle dusters compare? If you upgrade them, maybe you’ll have even more than a fighting chance.

Shades is almost like an RPG since it has a leveling system and stats that define your character. One thing that’s important to know about this game in general is that raw skill won’t just carry you into the further levels. You may try and practice dodging and blocking every single strike the enemy throws at you, but in reality, you’ll always be hit somehow and almost always end up on the losing side. Upgrading your gear is one way you can mitigate your losses and ensure that you always come out on top. If your weapon’s made of superior steel and you have the skill to wield it, you’re a force to be reckoned with.

Each piece of gear comes with its own set of scrolls. These scrolls are not interchangeable. For instance, you can’t use weapon scrolls to upgrade your helmet and vice versa. Aside from scrolls, you’ll be using the gold you’ve gained from your venture into the cracks in the sky.

When you’ve come back, either defeated or victorious, the game should prompt you to upgrade your gear. The helmet icon on the left side of the screen should have a red blip on it. When you’re in the equipment screen, any piece of gear that’s eligible for upgrading will have a green arrow next to it.

Tapping this and then the Upgrade button will ensure the improvement of your weapon (provided that you have ample resources, of course). If you wish to fully use all of the upgrade scrolls you have, tap the Max Upgrade button to exhaust all you can for that piece of equipment.

merging items in shades shadow fight roguelike
With their powers combined…

You may also upgrade an item into a better version of itself. This is called Forging which can be achieved when you have a duplicate of said item. Let’s say you have 2 pairs of sai of the same kind. If you tap the Forge button, you can combine the 2 sai into one newer, better one.

Be warned that you will need an exact copy of this next one to combine it into something of better quality. If an item has a star and you want to get it Forged, you will need to get it to the same star level for it to be eligible for Forging. When an item reaches the blue quality, it will gain a perk that will increase your combat performance as well.

You’ve now been acquainted with what you have without, but what about that which you have within?

7. Invest in Talents

shades shadow fight roguelike talents
Tools of the trade.

A fighter’s strength lies not in their form or their weapons alone but the minute and imperceptive techniques they hide within their physical body—maybe their soul, even.

What is it that lies within a fighter’s soul, then? Is it the center of the universe? The keys to peace and harmony? How about a coupon to unlimited fried chicken forever? We’ll never know. What we do know is that a fighter has Talents within them that can be unlocked and invested on… for a sum of gold.

Talents, in RPG speak, are passive skills. Unlike Shades, these are permanent little improvements that accumulate in amount as you invest in them. You read that right: permanent. They’re always active and you can unlock these each time you are in the main menu.

It’s important to unlock these each time you’ve come back from a run in order to make improvements to your next one. While they’re small in improvement, their advantage is that they fine-tune your fighter’s stats. For instance, one of the Talents will permanently increase your fighter’s raw attack power, so they’ll hit much harder no matter what.

The only downsides to investing in Talents is that you’re only given a couple of these before you need to level up your fighter again to gain more, they’re granted to you completely at random, and the sum of gold needed increases each time.

What we mean here is that you can’t continuously invest in Talents no matter how much gold you have. You’ll eventually be told to level up to continue getting more. Additionally, once you’ve chosen to pay that sum of gold to invest in a Talent, it’s going to be given to you from a random selection.

Lastly, the sum of gold needed to gain a new Talent will be slightly more expensive than the last time you paid. But don’t let these downsides deter you—Talents are incredible once you’ve invested in them. Alongside the Shades, these upgrades will make your fighter unstoppable!

Besides fighting, where else do you think you can get resources like gold and upgrade scrolls? We’ll tell you!

8. Fill the Lantern for Resources

shades shadow fight roguelike lantern
On the upper left.

In the main menu, you’ll be told that you have a mysterious lantern above your fighter and that it grants you various gifts from people thanking you. This lantern will be what you need in order to succeed.

The lantern is a representation of hope from the people’s lives you’ve saved thus far. Usually, getting farther into the game’s campaign will get you better rewards, but the rewards you reap in the time being are what you can work with. This is inspired by the “idle” mechanic which is a trend in most mobile games as of the writing of this article.

If you aren’t familiar with the trend, this means that even though you aren’t playing the game, the game somehow piles up resources for you to collect the next time you come back.

That way, you get to take a break when you’re out of stamina or if you’ve just become salty in general. If you look at the lantern, there is a dark ring in its center that slowly fills over time. When it’s filled, the ring becomes whole and you’ll be showered with a plethora of rewards.

shades shadow fight roguelike lantern of gratitude
You have saved their lives, they are eternally grateful.

That said, don’t depend on the lantern all the time. The lantern only exists to pick you up after you’ve taken a break or if you feel like you’ve fallen behind. Collecting the lantern’s rewards when it’s not filled yet is not that great since you’ll only acquire items that you’re otherwise better off obtaining from a full-blown run.

Give the lantern some time to accumulate its gifts and then take these when it’s full. You might want to try this out after going to school or after coming home from a long day of work. It’ll be wondrous!

There’s a peculiar little button that pops up every time in-game and that’s the option to watch ads. Nuisance or bonus? Let’s find out.

9. Watch Ads for Increased Rewards

shades shadow fight roguelike rewards
Why, yes, we’d like more rewards.

Ads are inescapable, even in the martial artists’ world!

They’ll pop up every now and then, summoning portals to other places that you never knew existed and they lead you to the App Store or the Play Store, depending on which device you’re using! Jokes aside, Shades is a mobile game and a mobile game is no stranger to having ads everywhere.

Thankfully, the ads aren’t forced upon you and they don’t pop up every now and then—they only exist purely for when you want to obtain certain things. It may be annoying, sure, but hear us out: watching ads will increase the rewards you receive.

Using the lantern above as an example, you will be granted the option to increase your rewards by having to watch an ad. If you think about it, a 30-second ad beats grinding for an hour and you’ll be given these rewards instantaneously instead. You’ll be able to advance further into the game if you do this and with less effort, too!

shades shadow fight roguelike vortex of secrets
A pittance of your time for strength or riches.

Another place where you can watch ads is at the Vortex of Secrets which pops up occasionally during a run. When you see it, don’t shun this opportunity—apart from the Shades that you might be granted from trying it out, you might also get gold or gems needed for upgrades and premium stuff from the in-game market. Just remember that you can only use the Vortex a couple of times per day.

shades shadow fight roguelike fight over
Defeat is a cruel teacher.

When your run has been concluded, you will also be presented with a screen wherein you may choose to receive increased rewards. We strongly suggest giving the ad here a watch since it’s the many defeats that you will incur that will propel you forward. An increased gain in scrolls and gold will certainly ensure the eventual retribution at your fighter’s hands. Don’t skip this one!

To add to the many ways you can use ads for increased rewards, there’s also the use for watching an ad in the market. This is where you can open chests and earn new gear or duplicates of gear you already own. Again, this is all for the betterment of your character since new gear would most certainly come at higher ranks and the duplicates can be used for Forging, as we’ve discussed above.

There is one last means of using ads, but this is perhaps the most important one.

10. Use Revives Wisely

shades shadow fight roguelike revive
Get up or stay down—your choice.

So, you’ve entered a run and you’ve been spammed to death by a dual-wielding ninja. The game gives you a prompt: do you revive here or do you quit?

If you’ve just entered a run and this happened to you, we recommend quitting, of course! There’s no reason why you should revive when you can easily jump back into the portal and start kicking butt again. The temptation is quite strong here since it gives you that heroic second wind, especially when you’ve sustained some damage and have gone a few rounds into your run.

You’ll notice that your health will have been brought back to full. Instead of squandering this opportunity in the early levels of the chapter, consider using this when you’ve come close to the boss and lost.

It’s especially useful if you’ve reached the boss, lost to them, and then you choose to revive. The reason why this is the better option is solely because bosses in Shades have multiple life bars that you need to deplete in succession, pitted against your single life bar. A boss really tests your mettle and your determination to win. Therefore, if you’ve lost before stage 9 or the boss level, consider repeating the level as a whole—using a revive isn’t worth it.

Knowing that the bosses ahead are difficult thanks to that last bullet, training and practice on your part will be quite important. Regardless of your progress, just remember the lessons you’ve learned from imbuing yourself with the knowledge from this guide:

  • Master your character’s movements. Roll inward and outward, make bold attacks toward your enemy, kicks should be made as openings in a fight, and block the enemy’s attacks as much as you can. You’ll become a better fighter in no time through practice!
  • Getting cornered is a death sentence! Wall jump out of the way if you want to survive.
  • Hit the enemy where it hurts. Cheap shots aren’t cheating—they’re strategy and they’re a way to finish a fight faster. Kick low, throw elbows, beat the enemy while they’re down!
  • Wait for your enemy to make a mistake. Having them wide open will ensure that you’ll throw some free hits in. That said, patience is a weapon.
  • Your Shades are powerful, but scattered strength could only lead to your doom. Stay the course when picking your Shades and you’ll become unstoppable!
  • Superior steel vanquishes the foe. Make sure you upgrade your gear as much as you can before each run.
  • Talents are an investment—they’re all at random, but they’re an investment nonetheless. The best part is that they’re permanent!
  • The lantern fills with each moment that passes. Take advantage of this by coming back to the game after a later time. When you do, the lantern shall be filled with the gifts from the people you’ve saved!
  • Watching ads is actually a secret technique. Learn this well and you will advance faster than other fighters.
  • The revive, while requiring an ad for you to watch, is important. Use it only if you’ve lost on levels before 9 or the boss level. It’d be a waste of a heroic wind if you revived and still got defeated!

This brings our beginner’s guide of Shades to an end. Find inner peace, make your weapons an extension of your body, and prepare to fight through the cracks in the sky. Only you can save the world from utter destruction. Good luck!

Are you a master warrior? Have you defeated hundreds, if not thousands, of other fighters before you? Do you know a secret fighting technique that we don’t? Feel free to share your thoughts with in the comment box below this guide!