How to play Shadows over Loathing

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Shadows over Loathing is a turn-based RPG set in a world populated by stick figures. It features adventure-style gameplay as well as RPG-like character growth and a turn-based combat system.


Opening scene.jpg

For PC-based players, movement follows the conventional WASD keyboard commands by default:

  • W – to move forward (up the screen)
  • A – to move left
  • S – to move backward (down the screen)
  • D – to move right

Other keyboard configurations are available via the Main Options panel including: QWERTZ, AZERTY, Dvorak and Colemak.

Interaction with objects and NPCs

To interact with objects or NPCs, simply click on them, or walk up to them and press Interact (default E).

Travelling between locations

Your first traveling opportunity occurs once you've checked out the diner and spoken to the folks inside. You'll learn that you must take the bus to Ocean City for the plot to progress any further. During your first day in Ocean City, you will be tasked with finding a cursed item, and you will eventually gain a Map that you can open any time. Simply travelling through the map or roaming randomly will trigger random events, some that unlock more locations to explore. You can also unlock more locations by finding clues or talking to certain people. At the beginning of each new day, you will receive a new map and you can switch between maps by using the bus stop.

While travelling on a map, you may trigger one of these events: a fight, a new location, a peddler, a random item, a thing your companion finds, or even some quest-specific encounters. Some quests and items in the game may alter what you can encounter.

Game options

Like most games, you have a number of options for configuring the interface to your liking.


Main article: Character Sheet

You have 3 core stats, your Muscle, Mysticality, and Moxie, which will be used to determine what you can do in the game. Unlike WoL, there are no levels as you spend experience points to unlock some perks and learn new skills and gain more secondary stats through books.

You deal damage in combat by using skills and your basic weapon attack. Skills have a fixed effect which can be upgraded with XP or certain items. Basic attacks deal your Muscle, Mysticality, or Moxie as damage, plus any Melee, Magical, or Ranged Attack bonuses you may have, depending on the type of weapon you wield.

Elemental Armors replace elemental resistances. Like resistance in WoL, having high enough armor allows you to interact with certain things you otherwise couldn't.

Your companions

Main article: Companion

Unlike WoL, you can recruit during the game and switch them out at the bar. Companions can gain stats and skills as you adventure with them, and each companion has two side quests called vignettes.

Your first companion will be Gabby, a goblin flapper which you meet at Murray's Antique Store after arriving in Ocean City. You can also recruit Obie, a hobo with a horn, should you show him a lot of generosity. If you choose to help the mafia, the unflappable Molly will bring her tommy gun to the party. Depending on which major you sign up for, you can choose one of three partners to join you. And finally, Alphonse the gator will show interest in you if you reek of shadows.


Your game is automatically saved so there's no need to do so explicitly. However, this means you can't save and restore.


Main article: Combat

All fights are turn-based. You fight with a companion (who has a few skills) and a familiar (which acts automatically and flees if the player is KO'd). If your whole party is knocked down or you choose to surrender, the fight ends and you gain a buff perk, similar to Angry except you cannot get angry enough to reset the day. If you win, you may gain XP, Meat, and items.

The damage formula for some of your non-static skills and enemy attacks is damage minus armor. Damage is mainly based on your stat, with weapons adding some base damage only to the weapon. Elemental armors replaces elemental resistance by reducing a flat amount of damage. All skills besides your weapon costs 1 AP, though the majority of them can be used repeatedly during your turn. Some of the skills are only used once per combat due to being an offhand item or providing a powerful buff.