Can’t keep a good beast down.
Shadow of the Beast, my how it’s been so long since I’ve thought of you. When it was announced there was a new title in the works and I remembered just what Shadow of the Beast was, it was pretty much unforgettable. First it was a game I never finished, second it was just a weird game in art design and style. These were not bad things inherently, but still, it’s hard to forget those purple skies, weird floating eyes, and difficulty. It’s been a while since the game was announced, and it has finally landed on the PS4, and with surprising results.
Shadow of the Beast keeps in line with its Amiga original in a lot of ways. Obscure, dark fantasy world is fully at play here, with a beast that looks much more intimidating than ever before. The biggest change is in the graphical style, and while it does have its own modern take, it keeps to the original’s oddness and unique designs perfectly, with some great homage to the original game.
Time to beat: 4 hours
Price I’d pay: $19.99
The closest experience I could say it reminded me of was a side scrolling God Of War in some ways. The game is pretty brutal when it comes to kills, and there are some very nice action set piece type moments, some interesting platforming, puzzles, and beautiful vistas. I found myself in awe of the title more than once. Combat is action based, but also almost rhythm based. The beast has plenty of options at his disposal from blocking, parrying, dodging, and other special moves that see him regaining life, or gaining more points. Yep, Shadow of the Beast has a point system that lets players go against other high scores and gain points as well. These points are used to unlock all sorts of extras, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.
The combat and flow works rather well, and at times can feel like pulling off a master ballet of carnage, going back and forth between either side of the beast. Some enemies require the right timing, others need to be blocked. It’s brutal but fun, easy, yet sometimes hard and cheap. I never felt like I had a full grasp on the combat system until later, and even then I still have a few issues. It worked well for me the majority of the time, but other moments had me just a bit frustrated, although luckily that didn’t bother me often. Boss battles are fantastic to look at, yet also not very hard for the most part. The first one is really simple and they ramp up in looks and challenge, but they still will be easy for any long time game player to best.
The final boss was fairly easy too, but it had me smiling ear to ear with its gameplay that is very nostalgic of another old arcade game. At moments, there is a rage meter players can enable, and then it becomes a quick time event to try and see how many enemies can be killed with the reaction to the buttons getting quicker and quicker. It can be tough when it’s super-fast, but I’ve been able to kill a good 15 enemies before failing. After, the game just keeps going as normal. Getting attack and killed, players either can resurrect with a soul unlimitedly or with health vials. The game never really explains the difference, though on the hardest difficulty only vials are able to be used.
Graphically Shadow of the Beast impressed. From some alien worlds that felt serene and gorgeous, to dark forests fill with dread. My favorite area is most likely the one with the sand dunes with the wind going through it and the lighting just looks great. Exploring these worlds is fairly easy too. Beast does have a bit of a floaty feel in design, but it’s easily to get used to, if not a bit clumsy at the start. Sadly I wish was there was a bit more exploration moments to partake in, as one level in particular was fairly large to explore and had me lost for a bit. Others they are mostly straight shot affairs with little areas to discover.
Discovery is a key element though, as hidden battles are in most levels, requiring players to get great scores on those associated battles with brackets, as seen on the mission screen. That, along with the hidden orbs and points to gain for unlockables, give is plenty reasons to replay this game after finishing it in the 3 to 4 hours it will take. Yes it’s a bit short, but I was enthralled with it the entire time. Going through again on harder difficulties and gaining more points leads to a bunch of cool things to unlock. Beast moves of course make the player stronger, stones are also something to be discovered and enabled at the start of the levels for bonus perks. The language in the game is all its own unique dialect, so going through the game once leaves those elements up to player’s imagination. Buy the abilities to understand these different creatures’ languages, and the idea of the plot becomes a bit more understandable. Then when finished, unlock the original game, with potentially unlimited health, or even watch a complete walkthrough of it if players choose not to experience it for themselves.
Shadow of the Beast was a huge surprise for me. I wasn’t sure how they’d bring the franchise back and talk on the game went very quiet before it was suddenly released. It’s a game filled with some insanely cool creatures, worlds, and enemy designs, along with a soundtrack that absolutely matches that, and some really fun moments. I still don’t understand the online element of gift giving or quick time event fighting, so there is that, but that’s an extra element anyways.
Favorite part: Traversing the desert was beautiful as it was, but then when a creature starting tracking you across the plains… I was loving it! I’ll say no more!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.