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GemCraft: Chasing Shadows

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Rating: 4.3/5 (167 votes)
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GemCraft: Chasing Shadows

Dora[6/18/2015: GemCraft: Chasing Shadows is now available to play on JayisGames.]

What are you doing with your free time? No, shut up! You're wrong, and a liar, because you're about to have every single scrap of your life taken over by the newest installment in Game in a Bottle's smash-hit tower defense GemCraft games, GemCraft: Chasing Shadows. (Also available on Steam if you would like to support the developer with a purchase!) What makes a GemCraft game so much more special than your garden variety tower defense? Glad you ask, person about to have their life enriched. While you use towers to defend against incoming waves of monsters as usual, the core of the game comes from the unique ability to create and fuse gems. Different colours have different powers, and even the size of the gem matters, but combining them is where it gets interesting. Take a poison gem and drop it into a tower with an electric gem, and suddenly you've got a defense that shots out bolts that paralyze and poison foes. Not only that, but if you place gems in traps on the ground, they have different effects than they would plopped in a tower. Pretty swanky powers, huh? Well, you're gonna need 'em, since the forces of darkness are nipping at your heels, and you'll need to think strategically to hold them off, learn new skills, and level up to gain access to bigger, badder jewels.

Initially, it might seem like the biggest change are the visuals, but there's a lot more going on under the hood despite first impressions. While the basic gameplay remains unchanged, apart from the fact that you can now manually choose what type of gem you want to create, and the additional speeds you can set levels to, there are a lot of tweaks and additions. Instead of battle modes to set difficulty and experience bonuses, for instance, you need to apply "traits" to fields which can only be found now as rare drops from monsters, and new skills to upgrade are unlocked in the same way. You can now find fragments with special bonuses that you can slot into a talisman, or upgrade using the game's new secondary currency, Shadow Orbs. Shadow Orbs are earned from battle, though along with a special item, they can optionally be bought for real cash via in-game microtransactions if you're impatient. In field battles, you'll also now have to contend with Wizard Towers, whose locks must be disabled before they destroy your base, and special treasures that can only be unlocked if you kill a specific number of enemies a certain way within their radius. Chasing Shadows is not a game you can simply charge through as fast as before, and for some players, the difference between grinding for levels and grinding for treasure is going to be a point of contention.

GemCraft: Chasing ShadowsWhat hasn't changed is that Chasing Shadows is just as rife with challenging levels and strategy as its predecessors... there's just significantly more time spent trying to unlock it all. While having big buttons nagging you to buy things is perhaps a little obnoxious, gameplay doesn't feel like it's reliant on subtly forcing you to want to do so, and besides, the $4.99USD price tag for the Magician's Pounch, which grants bonus areas and skills, should be an acceptable price to pay for literally years of free entertainment for fans. The visual changes are gorgeous, especially in regards to the environments, but the monsters themselves tend to look a little small and muddy and indistinct compared with how clear they were displayed before. All of these changes and tweaks, big and small, means Chasing Shadow might have a bit of an uphill battle winning over diehard fans who preferred it simpler and with less unlocking, but it deserves the chance. Despite the emphasis on grinding and the nagging to spend money, Chasing Shadows is still an incredibly meaty, challenging game.

There's no denying that GemCraft: Chasing Shadows does a lot of things differently than its predecessors, but every bit of it has been done with enhancing the experience. If you're an old fan, it's going to take you a little while to relearn the ropes and develop strategies for levels that can be absolutely brutal even on the simplest difficulty. If you're a newcomer, you might be a little overwhelmed by the plethora of elements to play with and take into consideration, setting Chasing Shadows head and shoulders above virtually every other game in the genre. Whatever the case, GemCraft: Chasing Shadows is still an absolute titan of a game that will take a lot of time to beat, but is well worth the investment.

Play GemCraft: Chasing Shadows


menyazovutkelly April 5, 2014 6:17 PM

OMG I LOVE THIS GAME! I'm so excited!


Dropping gems on your orb got removed :(
It was fun while it lasted. I went from level 13 to level 36 after a single level.


Sadly, it really was nerfed due to abuse.


No kidding. On levels where there were no giants, you could enrage up to 15x or more. The field would be covered in beacons that did nothing, with crazy armor levels that did nothing, and filled with monsters everywhere. Much like old KoL - enrage with Hockey Sticks, strike once, and ignore everything else.

When there were giants...well, I'm sure you could think of a way to get rid of a few slow-moving giants using 100000 mana. You could just mop them up at the end of the level, after all the monsters with thousands of armor points (and low health) went away.


My first thought when I saw this post was, "Oh, but I had things I wanted to do!" Those things are gone now, replaced by all that is gem and craft. I'd mourn the loss of my non-tower defense life, but I feel the memories of it already slipping away...

Also just wanted to point out your link to the game is broken, but it may just be a Chrome thing!


Q: What are these bolt drop things? Is the game bugged?
A: No, you will get the spell later.

General strategy:

While having a lot of small gems makes for a nice photo to put in a JiG review, it's generally ineffective in dealing damage. Only do it for specials (slowdown), or if you need a lot of hits but don't care if they do any damage, or if the level has a lot of giants.

If the level consists of a lot of giants (K5), consider using a bunch of low level purple gems.

Otherwise, stick with one or two major damage-dealing gems, because that's the only way to punch through armor.

Late game strategy:

Bolt, freeze, etc: these are your best friends! They provide the necessary safety cushion to make the game fun. Before you get them, it's honestly quite a drag.
If they're fully charged all the time, you should be enraging more.

Blue gems:

If you're using a single damage dealing gem, then presumably it has huge range and will be firing constantly, so blue gems are useless except for occasionally dealing with bosses.
You can put a small one somewhere, but for your major gem, I'd prefer a red, yellow, black, white, or purple one instead. (purple in case a black thing shows up)

Green gems:

I've found that green gems are useless except against swarmlings. If you already have a red gem, don't bother with green gems. Otherwise, if at all, put one on Random in the front, hopefully coupled with a random cyan trap.

Cyan gems:

They're only any good when paired with green gems, and green gems are bad.

Orange gems:

They are bad. Note how awful their damage dealing stats are. The money you get from using them is far eclipsed by the money from enraging.

Yellow gems:

Red gems are generally better, except maybe against bosses.


Generally necessary in late-game. On O6, which I just played, I was enraging to 4, 5, 6 in early game, then was unable to enrage at all in the end. The extra mana from enraging is crucial.

Calling waves early:

Generally useless except right after a wave of giants. My big gem is firing constantly anyway. If I were going to call a wave early, I'd consider enraging instead.


The annoying black thing that moves through time and shoots your orb can be dealt with in two ways: purple gems or shield bypass. Purple gems are preferred. Luckily, other than in V4, purple gems seem to be handy when the black thing is around.


More on bosses:

You can also use a yellow gem to power through the armor. 10x critical can get you an instant kill.

m1n1fy0rd April 6, 2014 10:15 PM

So I've been looking at the maps with compasses in them, and I've noticed something. At least in the one I was looking at extensively (E3) whenever you load it up it comes up with the same set of gems underneath the normal loading gem. After a couple of resets I figured out the entire set


but I can't figure out what that means. Has anyone else figured out the purpose of the compasses yet?

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl94_P2FKvaUx_3dAv_a9r_slm7MamGzFw April 6, 2014 11:14 PM


You can click the compasses to change their orientation, and there's an achievement called "Grey Trees" with the description "11331791." I might be wrong, but I think that the gems on the loading screen changed when I changed the orientation of the compasses.

m1n1fy0rd April 6, 2014 11:39 PM

You're absolutely right! There's only one problem about that.

There are eight digits in the achievement code. There are seven digits in the loading screen. Now, that could just mean that I haven't found them all, but I don't think I've even found seven of the compasses around. If there are eight to be found then great! If not, then how are we supposed to get that specific achievement?

After doing a little more research, this is what I've found.

(E3)'s compass corresponds to the second 'digit' of the code.

2 2 5 2 2 3 4 (NE)
2 3 5 2 2 3 4 (E)
2 4 5 2 2 3 4 (SE)
2 5 5 2 2 3 4 (S)
2 2 5 2 2 3 4 (SW)
2 3 5 2 2 3 4 (W)
2 2 5 2 2 3 4 (NW)
2 1 5 2 2 3 4 (N)

If the Gray Trees achievement is legit and its first digit is the same as the first digit on the loading screen code, then North on (E3) is at least one of the steps there. Anyone else have any more information?

I do know that on the minimap, these have a certain specific green that signify their presence. They're small and usually off to the side or in a corner, but they are there.


More on orange gems:

I started every game with two level 8 gems, surrounded by amplifiers. Endurance is breakable. You can go infinite mana.


Please explain how you got orange gems on (I am assumming) many levels when gems are restrected. I have yet to find a way to unlock gems. Also, What did you put in the amps? What is the final level in Endurance, if it is "breakable"?

Twinkie23 April 7, 2014 3:23 PM

What do they mean by "shoot with a bolt?" I feel like I spaced out reading all the directions and now I don't know what they're talking about (for example, if there's a barrel or a plank pile that can be destroyed with bolts).

Patreon Donator dsrtrosy April 7, 2014 4:48 PM

I will never be productive again! These are my favorite games, maybe of all time!

m1n1fy0rd April 7, 2014 6:18 PM


There are three spells to the upper right, which you grab through picking up skill tomes from the levels that have spiky triangles instead of circles in the middle of them. The first one is bolt, which allows your gems to fire a little farther out than normal a couple times before the spell wears off.


Early Game Strategy

A solo red gem upgraded as much as possible is good- and others have noted viable strategies with few gems. One thing to note is that just trying a bunch of different strategies will get you lots of extra skill points which are extremely helpful in getting you starting mana- so try out a bunch of things!

As for the compasses- I'd suggest you try to figure it out by yourself- my guess is it's likely a fun Easter egg- but that's just a guess. I'd suggest avoiding the spoilers.


Maybe compasses are fun to figure out by yourself, but so far I can't find anyone who has done so. The primary problem seems to be 7 gems and 8 numbers.


Sorry, I'm unable to edit. Please change that to a spoiler (and then delete this comment).


Find someone who has finished the game, and you'll find someone who has figured out the compasses.

Only 100 people approx have maxed out charge on freeze spell as of my writing this. I think those rushing down this game are in a rarified air.


QWjroQ, are you there?? Please explain your post above mine... my local time is 1:36. Just wondering about the time on the posts.

m1n1fy0rd April 8, 2014 5:53 PM

Compass Post

I've got a little more information, and a theory.

First, the information.

E3 (2nd)
2 (1) 3 3 1 3 4 (N)
J2 (3rd)
2 1 (3) 3 1 3 4 (SE)
K1 (4th)
2 1 3 (3) 1 3 4 (E)
03 (5th)
2 1 3 3 (1) 3 4 (NE)

Legend is as follows
Field (Position)
Number Sequence (Cardinal Direction)

My theory is that the eighth digit isn't a gem, but rather a binary Boolean value. 0 is false, 1 is true. So if everything is out-of-order, then the eighth digit is a 0 and you don't get to unlock White Trees. If you line up all seven others, then you'll get it. The other theory is that once you've got all seven of these maps lined up, the compasses might point to somewhere between the lot of them. That would probably take an enlarged map of the entire playing field to mess around with though.


On the armorgames forums, someone claimed that the proper solution is just to turn them all to 5, then complete a level (don't remember which one, you can search the thread). How's that for a downer solution? :(


no no no NO NO NO. I thought I was free form this game and now they suck me back in.


@m1n1fy0rd: What do you mean by K1 is the third compass level? There is no compass for me at K1. If you want a screenshot, I will give it.


I want to like this but the progression is so slow and the drops so rare and random that they've deliberately gutted the enjoy of this game to push people to buy Magician's Pouch or shadowcores.

I hate when Free-to-Play upsets the balance of the gameplay. Fun for the first few hours as you unlock things, tedious when you realize you need to use the shop to get farther.


No you do not. You could just try different strategy until you get it right. Also, for anyone who wants to find the compasses without entering maps, the color of the compasses is 30 red 49 green 0 blue in Generic RGB.

m1n1fy0rd April 10, 2014 12:17 AM

If it doesn't have anything to do with the compasses, I wonder what the Gray Trees achievement is supposed to signify then.


Strategy tip

It's actually quite easy to beat most levels with a combo of red and green gems. combine them to a 2 colour gem and you'll be able to take out even giant monsters with a level 4 gem.

m1n1fy0rd April 11, 2014 1:42 AM

So here's a little tip they don't teach you in schools. XD
It's probably cheating though, so if you don't want a very high advantage don't bother.

When you socket or re-socket a gem, if you hit it with an enhancement you prematurely end its socketing timer. So if you need to upgrade, wait until you've got an enhancement and continue to fire without pause.


So, I'm in the mid 60s, have opened 2/3 of the map, the second difficulty level, more than half the skills and traits.

Best advice:

Keep the poison skill at all times

It makes the whole game simpler.

Get the wizard pouch. After the number of hours of gameplay, a few dollars is nothing. Then keep the chain hit skill up, too.

If you have these two skills, you can powerlevel pretty hard. Start each level with the highest level red/green gem you can and just put new and bigger red/greens around them.


How Can You Get All Gems On All Maps??!?! Please Explain It!!!?!


@Nathaniel Shaw

-After a while you unlock different difficulties. You need to play for a while to get to this content though.


ok... that is going to be 'fun'...


I just wanted to make a note in case people are feeling scared off by the "pay to play" aspects of this game. I have not paid anything, and I have been able to consistently make progress without undue difficulty. I'm around wizard level 30 right now and I can generally beat one or two fields every evening. I'm finding this to be more fun than GemCraft: Labyrinth, for some reason. I would recommend if anyone is on the fence, give it a try.


Why is this game rated orange?


OK, forget all my previous strategies.

I just hit level 1114, where 2 days ago i was level 300.

Mana farm using 4-6 RWOBlue traps as far from your orb as you can. Start with just one using as much of your starting mana as possible, minimum level 6, then add more asap. Sit a RWYY as close to your orb as possible as your kill gem.

Upgrade the gems as fast as possible (traps first) and enrage as many waves as you can. Try to only enrage them 4 times as this avoids summoning a beacon.

Using this strategy I have started doing runs of hundreds of millions to billions of xp.

killermist May 6, 2014 7:12 PM

In my searching, I found some useful information.

Grey Trees:

SW = 1
SE = 3
NW = 7
NE = 9
so the Grey Trees code is SW SW SE SE SW NW NE SW. There are actually more codes, the full list seems to be:
11111111 SW SW SW SW SW SW SW SW
33333333 SE SE SE SE SE SE SE SE
77777777 NW NW NW NW NW NW NW NW
99999999 NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE
13371337 SW SE SE NW SW SE SE NW
11379197 SW SW SE NW NE SW NE NW
97713791 NE NW NW SW SE NW NE SW
77919713 NW NW NE SW NE NW SW SE
79797919 NW NE NW NE NW NE SW NE
77311973 NW NW SE SW SW NE NW SE
11799397 SW SW NW NE NE SE NE NW
11319773 SW SW SE SW NE NW NW SE
11331791 SW SW SE SE SW NW NE SW

Compass Puzzles:

The loading screen shows how close or far each compass is from its solution position, with a level 5 gem indicating "correct" and a level 1 gem indicating "180 degrees wrong".

The compass fields are (in order): C2, E3, J2, K2, O3, U4, X7. So in the screenshot, C2 is the last compass to be solved before getting the next reward.

If the corresponding loading screen gem shows "level 1", click 4 times. Next time, it'll be correct (level 5)

If it shows "level 2", click it 3; Either it'll be correct or it'll show "level 3" in the next play; if so, click an additional two times.

If it shows "level 3", click twice. Either it'll be correct or it'll show "level 1" in the next play; if so, click 4 times.

If it shows "level 4", click once. Either it'll be correct or it'll show "level 3" in the next play; if so, click 6 times.

If it shows "level 5", it's in the right position already. Don't click. Or click 8 times if you must.

For a change in compass direction to stick, you have to win the level.

When you complete a level with all the compasses correct, you will get an additional drop. The first additional drop is a field token for secret field D6. Next time you play in a compass field, there's a new code to solve.

There appear to be 11 compass drops in all, 5 high-level fragments and 6 field tokens. There are no compass achievements after the first one for spinning a compass at all.

The codes are random to each savegame, so there's no use in telling someone "turn the C2 compass north" or the like.

In regards to the Compass Puzzles:

When you complete a compass puzzle, DO NOT take chances on completing the map you completed it on. If you fail the map and are forced to restart it, you WILL HAVE LOST the bonus you would get PERMANENTLY! On one puzzle for which the bonus should have been a field token (impossible to get otherwise), I got overly confident and summoned too strong a wave (or several), and lost the battle. When completing compass puzzles, TAKE NO CHANCES on finishing the battle. If possible, finish using the easiest map (E3), and with the least strenuous difficulty. You can mitigate this caution somewhat by using the +bonus function to dump 100 SC into boosting the rarity of the talisman fragment you get on fragment-generating puzzles.

twinotter May 27, 2014 3:58 PM

Has anyone seen a map that tells you how to get to the various levels? Rather, which levels unlock which other levels? The Wikia page tells what you can find on levels, but not how to make them available: http://gemcraft.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Fields_in_Gemcraft_Chapter_2

twinotter May 27, 2014 6:29 PM

Mana farm question:

I don't entirely understand how mana leech makes sense... The gems generally only earn about 1-2 mana per hit and an entire level may have 1200-1500. To make that gem, you're going to have to spend 6000ish mana. How does this make any sense?


I just played M2 with +4 on Haste, BEacon storm and Giant domination, but it had issues. I had three mana shards come up and not one of them appeared on the map, I threw 10,000 at the first one, but luckily the level was giving me enough mana with my orange mana gems. Also only two beacons appeared, but they were hidden in the woods.

I am not sure what happened on that level. I have not had a problem with any others.

It does get a bit laggy when the shadow comes out to play. I wish there was a lower setting for the shadow.

This newer GemCraft seems more user friendly than one of the previous ones where the extras were introduced. They wanted you to buy and it severely limited what you could do without it. This one was much more friend;y. I am still playing. I have seen a couple levels that are familiar. I like a few of the new added traits.


When you get higher gems they not only hit for more points per hit, but also more times per second and you have to remember that the higher enemies have more hp so the gem hits each one more. Try playing a lower level with just mana leech and then without, you should see a difference.


U4 accidentally...

hit a sleeping hive with a beam from a level 10 gem and umm those spawnlings hp were in the billions at the very least and a good 700 of them, ooopsie. I was going to replay it anyways, but that was not the end I was looking for.



New layout for achievements screen
I don't know if it is for everyone but now the screen shakes when you kill a giant
"Hatred" at 1 it is 1,000, at 7 it is 30,000%; I do not remember this before and it makes the option pretty much useless because things become impossible very quickly.


Ahh I see Hatred replaced Beacon storm.

Beacon storm was difficult, but about 50% of the time manageable.


Some new achievements as well.
Correction 1 on Hatred is 100%


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