Shadows: Amsterdam is a board game designed by Mathieu Aubert and illustrated by M81 Studio; it is a new take on the art-based deduction game format popularized by Dixit and Mysterium. The backstory is that the players work for competing detective agencies, and are working to solve a crime before the police.

Shadows uses a randomized hex-based board, with each hex having a different illustration. These illustrations are often described as Zootopia-like, with animals undertaking human-type activities in a city that we must presume is Amsterdam. The players divide into two teams, each team having a team leader. The team leader has a secret map that shows where Police (hazards) and Evidence (victory points) are hidden, and have to steer their detective around this map by choosing picture cards that in some way correlate to hexes on the board. How these cards correlate is up to the team leaders, who might choose context, animal type, colors, specific items... but they cannot tell the team members what they are working with.

The game ends when one of the teams wins by finding three pieces of evidence, or alternatively, looses by running into the police three times.

This is a well designed game, in both senses of the word. The art is well done, cluttered and varied and cartoonish, excellent for allowing a range of clues; it also won the 2019 Palme de Bronze for Best Illustrations. It doesn't have quite the quality that the Dixit family of games does, but it's not far off. The game design is likewise well done, simple enough to learn but satisfying to play. I find that it works best with four players, but I've mostly been involved in games where at least one player is still learning, which may impact this. I have the Libellud edition of the game, which is not of the highest quality -- the hexes are of heavy paper, not cardboard, for example -- but is not poor enough that it impacts game play.

Overall, this may be an improvement over most existing games of this sort; Dixit is perhaps a better core game, but the scoring is messy; Mysterium is slower and takes longer to learn. For a quick, easy game Shadows: Amsterdam wins out. Of course, not everyone prefers a quick, easy game, and Mysterium may be a more satisfying experience once one gets through the initial learning game. Shadows also allows the two teams to play at their own speed -- it is not turn based -- which is a nice dynamic that I'd like to see in more team-based board games.

The Shadows: Amsterdam title format seems to indicate that this might be the start of a series of related games, but as of yet no additional Shadows games have been announced.