The reimagined Shadowgate
a First Look by flotsam

Zojoi Studios

If you know the old Shadowgate, then you know why I have done this as a “first look”. It’s essentially the wimpy way out. It will take me a very long time and lots and lots of dying to finish what has always been considered one of the more difficult games out there. A grand game, but a hard and unforgiving game. I will get to the end, as it deserves to be finished, plus it is very different to what we have come to expect.

What we have with this incarnation is a reimagined game, no less difficult but updated and expanded. It’s Shadowgate to its core, just a little different.
It certainly won’t be for everyone.

Fans of the original will come back, and they should. It now looks great, plays full screen, and is as diabolical as ever. It has also been tweaked, meaning solves are different, so if you memorised or wrote down exactly what to do, prepare to die.

It can look and sound just like it was if you prefer. Not sure why you would, but it’s up to you.

Newbies though need to be forewarned. You need to be prepared for the afore mentioned dying, which often happens without any indication that it is going to. Essentially, you die to learn not to do that, or to go there, or if you have to go there then you need to do something else. And often quickly. Too slow and you die all over again.

Die too because you picked up the book rather than read the book. Or for countless other reasons.

You will likely be frustrated, and if you play on some of the harder settings the frustration will be on steroids. Be cursed early on and then die long before you have found the cure. Die as well because the torch has run out, and you haven’t found another one. In that sense its timed – find the torches and keep them lit, or darkness comes and that’s that.

Shadowgate is an incredibly open game right from the start, which is one of the things I liked back then and like again. We also got a little bit soft when we invented “highlight all hotspots” or glowing icons to indicate an interaction. Here, if you can see something , you might be able to do something to it. You won’t know though unless you try, and you won’t have a blinking light saying you should try.

You do get Yorick, a skull perched in the top left corner, who might say something helpful if you ask. Or probably not.

You also get a messy verb interaction system (look, open, read etc), one of the things that could have/should have been improved. Maybe it has been, but its fussy and cantankerous – you sometimes have to use yourself on things, rather than just using the thing itself, and if I whack the glass on the hammer it should just break, rather than make me do it the other way round. Hotkeys help make things a little less fiddly, but only a bit.

Find things, use them, perhaps wear them, learn spells. Did I mention you die? Just for doing things?? Games used to be like this, and changed for a reason. Intuitive problem solving is a world away from Shadowgate.

The story is relatively straightforward, and never was the reason to play. A wizard sends you off to Castle Shadowgate to overcome an evil doer. I haven’t got to the end, or even near it as I said, but not sure it gets a whole lot more elaborate than that.

I played some of Shadowgate with a friend who had an Apple back in the day, and dragged the boxed version off my shelf as I always do when one of these remakes crosses my path. Nostalgia will help, but if you hanker for a challenge way beyond what you get in a modern game, go visit the Castle. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I played on:

OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB