Genre:                      Adventure

Developer:               Zojoi

Publisher                 Reverb Triple XP

Released                  August 21, 2014

PC Requirements:   See review below



by Oldmariner



This is a remake of the 1987 Shadowgate, released on Apple Macintosh and later ported to other platforms. I had never experienced this dark castle and its rpg/adventure quest prior to this remake. According to the developer’s website, the updated version is no more forgiving than the original. At least that’s what they make it sound like.

Shadowgate quickly endeared players with its fantastic atmospheric soundtrack, perilous locations to progress through, countless puzzles to solve, and more ways to gruesomely die than gamers previously thought possible.

Zojoi has painstakingly redesigned the game from the ground up, adding in tons of new mind-bending puzzles, lots of new rooms with stunning hand-painted 2D graphical detail, and more objects to interact with and help you along your quest.

I quickly discovered there are more ways to die in this first person point and click than poor Graham had to dodge in Daventry. The claim suggests to me that if you have fond memories of years gone by, or think you are up to the challenge, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t rely on prior walkthroughs because puzzles and hidden traps are expanded and modified. Step forth, valiant warrior, and expect to take a beating. 


I admitted at the start I had no previous experience with this game. Upon purchase, no text is provided to arm you with game play information. You receive the game file, a hint comic book and NES ring tones. I went to see what the developers have to say. They stated on their website,

Four different difficulty levels (from novice to expert) that actually change the game play experience and puzzle structure. For the ultimate challenge, try Ironman mode that disables saves and requires players to finish the game in one try.

What that said to me is, when starting a new game, you are offered two options. They are Normal and Classic Classic means to me this is where you choose to play in the old style. Leaving Normal to imply that is the selection for the updated version. Not true.

To be clear, Classic at this point does not refer to a graphics style that mimics the original game. There is another place where you can activate this view. See further below. If you select Normal, game play the game starts immediately with updated graphics. You are not given a choice of levels. I’m not clear on what Normal means. There is nothing on the developer’s site to define Normal.

 Selecting Classic jumps you to another screen providing you with four additional choices. Apprentice is the easiest and most forgiving. Journeyman offers a greater challenge, while Master is the most difficult. I nearly forgot another choice, Ironman. What is Ironman? That is where you are placed at the toughest level, and the game shuts off your ability to save. Are any of you up for that? At this point I selected Apprentice, and without confidence, stepped forward.


The interface offers an inventory found on the bottom left, shown as a bag or satchel. Your map is next to it. On the upper right, you’ll find a wheel or gear where you exit, load, save, and find options. The game also has random autosaves. I found no limit for number of saves. Hints are provided in form of a skull who has a name, Yorick. He won’t appear until you find him and pick him up.

In Options you have the ability to select windowed mode or full screen. You will also find a wide range of graphics and other settings.

Graphics are very good, but it is a dark game and not all is well lit. It is easy to miss seeing some items that you will need. I did not find any way to highlight hot spots. If you choose to play using what the developers call "retro graphics," you can change settings in Options from normal to retro. You can rediscover fond memories of pixel hunting. You can shift back at any time.

Retro graphics are not representative of the original 1987 game presentation. Instead it appears to be an effort to emulate an early gaming style. I confess was not aware of this until finishing the game. In Options\Settings you will see a section with check boxes set to normal. Clicking Retro next to Graphics, you will see the display with all its pixel hunting glory. That is fine, except setup design creates a major irritant. You will notice all five choices (Commands, Audio, Text, Transitions, and Graphics) are set to Normal by default. It remains that way even if you select Classic instead of Normal when entering the game. If you do not catch this and reset Commands to Retro in the Options\Settings box, then active command buttons will not appear on your screen when playing the game. I played beginning to end without the command buttons. You can do that, but the quick use of these buttons can make a difference when rushed.

The game offers a quick key setup where you can assign keyboard numbers to use inventory. Such as, highlight a spell in your inventory and hold down the control key while pressing the number 1. You will then see a 1 next to the selected spell in the inventory box. I’ve included screenshots with and without command buttons, and a few using the retro graphics. You will note the updated audio with its effects and music is a vast improvement. For a fun experiment, try the old audio settings so you can better appreciate the modern sounds.

Voice acting, what there is of it, is well done. You will not find yourself talked to death in this game, though there are a hundred other ways to die. All in all the game runs well and I found no bugs or glitches. The saves are easily found @ \Documents\Zojoi\Shadowgate

“You Have Chosen Poorly, Young Jair,” AKA Gameplay

The story is told in cut scenes, beginning at the opening where you learn you are playing as Jair. The opening video provides details of your quest, sending you to the castle steps. The rules are quite simple. As you move from one room to another, be sure to pick up everything. You will see a burning torch on the bottom right of your screen, and it is imperative to keep it burning. Hint: If it goes out, you could die. No spoilers here, so it is up to you to figure out how to achieve this.

Hinted to in the title of this section, “You have chosen poorly, young Jair,” are words spoken by a skeleton. You may hear them more often than you wish. He says this every time you are killed. You will encounter virtually no conversations and interact with very few characters. Shadowgate is a first person quest, where you learn more of the story when you encounter one of the many obelisks that are scattered about the game. Again, I offer no spoilers. It is up to you to discover if activation requires an inventory item, a punch, or a spell to play the resulting cut scene that adds to the story line. 

For the most part, you are not rushed when faced with a puzzle. They come in all forms from using cog wheels and levers, to translating books, issuing spells, and facing fire breathing dragons. Be warned, timed puzzles do happen such as a curse placed upon you. The game counts your moves. You have an unknown number of moves (not minutes) once you are cursed before it kills you. Find the cure before your time is up, or else. As you explore the castle, a wrong move will present instant death. Along with it an annoying skeleton presents his dire comment. You will then find yourself standing at the entry screen. Death comes in unexpected forms. Pick up the wrong book, a trap door opens, and you can guess the result. Save often, very often.

You can use objects on yourself by clicking them on your icon at the screen’s upper right. Helmets, shields, and the like are required to survive this quest.


Shadowgate returns with its legendary predecessor upgraded with modern graphics. It is an attempt to present a redesigned version of a popular classic old game. The result is a challenging experience that many will enjoy. My final grade is impacted by the following issues. Defaulting all to normal, no matter how you decide to play the game, is an  irritant. They failed to provide a game manual file explaining operations. A better construct at opening would be to offer the choices of game play level for "Normal" the same as they do for "Classic." Moving forward in "Normal," you have no idea what your difficulty level is. With the default settings applied, one cannot see any difference between Normal and Classic. Another failing is the lack of providing a way to identify hot spots at the easier levels. At least I did not find one using the common access methods used by other games. Again, manual please. The current design results in confusion.

The game is difficult, no points off for that. I played at the easiest level to avoid taking a long time to get through it. That’s tough enough for me. I’ll avoid the higher levels, thank you. It is very difficult to suggest how many hours of adventuring are offered in this spooky castle. Time is dependant upon frequency of being killed and the player’s ability to recognize puzzle resolution. There is no shortage of play time here. It is not a game for everybody. But for those of you who cut your teeth on this type of game, you won’t be disappointed. All I could discover in a quick search is that this game can be found at GOG and Steam. I’m guessing digital download is all there is. It is a fun, challenging game but could have been a lot better.

   Grade B+

   GOG version played on:

        Windows 7 Home, 64-bit

        Intel Core i3 - 2100 CPU @ 3.10 GHz

        12 GB RAM

        Nvidia GeForce GT240 1.25 GB VRAM

Minimum and Recommended System Requirements

Minimum system requirements - Windows: OS: Windows XP or later,

Processor: 2.4GHz Processor,

Memory: 1 GB RAM,

Graphics: 512MB Dedicated Video Memory,

Hard Drive: 2 GB available space,

Mouse, Keyboard.


Minimum system requirements - Mac: OS: OSX 10.7.0 or later,

Processor: 2.4GHz Processor,

Memory: 1 GB RAM,

Graphics: 512MB Dedicated Video Memory,

Hard Drive: 2 GB available space,

Mouse, Keyboard.


Minimum system requirements - Linux: Ubuntu 14.04, Mint 17

Processor: 2.4GHz Processor

Memory: 1 GB RAM

Graphics: 512MB Dedicated Video Memory

Hard Drive: 2 GB available space

Requires the following packages to be installed: libc6:i386, libasound2:i386, libasound2-data:i386, libasound2-plugins:i386 and dependencies.


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