Nearly 30 years ago the Original Shadowgate was released on the Mac and NES where it haunted gamers with its point-click first person adventure. I remember myself spending hours in front of the TV completely wide-eyed and sucked into the immersive story. This would happen to be one of the many titles that drew me into the fantasy world of video games. So when I got the opportunity to play the new Shadowgate before launch, you bet your sweet petunias I jumped at it. I was even more excited to hear that the original team with new members were taking on this project. Karl Roelofs is a veteran with his 27 years in the gaming industry and known for projects such as Road Runners Death Valley Rally to Settlers of Catan. Dave Marsh is also a veteran known for his work on over 150 titles in the past 7 years such as Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Starship Troopers Online. Together they are working with Zojoi to re-imagine Shadowgate.
You might ask yourself what is this new iteration of Shadowgate and how does it stand alone from its previous interpretations? The new Shadowgate is more than just an HD release or remake of an old game, Zojoi wanted to bring new life into this already cult classic adventure by rebuilding the game from the ground up. They’ve added more puzzles to twist the mind while leaving some old ones to quell the thirst of the oldschoolers such as myself. They added more rooms, each one is a hand painted to perfection in 2D graphical detail. There are also many new items to interact with to help you along your quest to survive the living castle Shadowgate.
This was a little tricky for me since many games have amazing graphics and look extremely life like, but when you’re playing a game of this nature you have to take some things into consideration. One, this is not a next gen game and there is no possible way to use CGI where it would not take something away from the game. Two, it was never an overly animated title to begin with; that was were your imagination as the player came in. So after that revelation, I took a step back and started to enjoy the look from the perspective of say a connoisseur of fine art would in an art gallery. The attention to detail was really good, but at times it was slightly repetitive. I also got the feeling like I was standing in the fantasy section of my favorite bookstore moving from cover to cover when I was changing from room to room in game. I don’t want to sound to harsh because again, how many ways can you make a castle look different at first? The true beauty of this game does not shine until you progress into the game and see its many wonders the castle has to offer. Overall the artwork was great and I looked forward to seeing even more polish in future titles.
This really stood out with me because if there would be anything that would be difficult to re-imagine or spice up would be a point-click game. To my amazement they managed to do just that. There are actually many ways you can play this game. One, if you desire the classic experience you can use the command system and turn on the original soundtrack, text box, and room transitions. If a cinematic experience is more your game, then you can switch off the UI and use customizable hot keys to explore the castle. I was actually impressed at just how many ways you could mix and match between the two and make the game really your own. So this became a very solid point that you could teach an old dog new tricks and I was presently surprised.
“The last thing that you remember is standing before the wizard Lakmir as he gestured wildly and chanted in an archaic tongue. Now you find yourself staring at an entryway which lies at the edge of a forest”
This would be something that I would have to say I was glad did not change much at all. If anything, it was just polished up and added a touch of class to bring out a fabled story of good verses evil. You play a young squire thrust into the role of “The Seed of Prophecy” where you are forced to venture into the living castle and traverse its many wonders in hopes of defeating the evil Warlock Lord. You are not completely alone, you carry with you the skull of the wizard Lakmir who gives you clues and helpful hints at times to keep you alive. But trust me, sometimes dying is part of the fun to see the many gruesome ways you can parish. Just remember to save your game… it’s not as detrimental as it used to be since there is an auto save feature. So to save from me giving away any spoilers I will leave the story at that, but I will say this when dealing with a fire breathing dragon always remember to protect yourself first.
I did not find any issues with Shadowgate as far as polish goes. It was a very well put together game. You could see the love and dedication that was brought to the table when the remake of this game was nothing more than an idea while chatting among friends. Each menu flowed as it was supposed to. Very reminiscent of the old Shadowgate, but far less clunky since you have the ability to use a mouse or even hot keys. The dialog was very well planned right down to the snarky remarks if you were about to do something one might say less intelligent. So many kudos to the editing team for making a very well polished game.
This area seems to fall short for me on many games, but not completely with Shadowgate. Since there are 3 different difficulty levels that do significantly change the gameplay, there is opportunity to come back to the game again. Each one adds or removes objects you need to collect to complete the puzzles. Therefore making them that much harder or that much easier. The story of course does not change however. This could get a little monotonous, but if you’re up for the puzzle solving and the thrill of the hunt, that is exactly what you will get by upping to the next level.
If you would like to get your own copy of Shadowgate it is available on Steam currently it is only on PC but it will be on Mac very soon and at a later time will be supported on the IOS and android.