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.
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,
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
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
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 @
“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
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.
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.
version played on:
Intel Core i3
- 2100 CPU @ 3.10 GHz
12 GB RAM
GT240 1.25 GB VRAM
Recommended System Requirements
requirements - Windows: OS: Windows XP or later,
Memory: 1 GB RAM,
Dedicated Video Memory,
Hard Drive: 2 GB
requirements - Mac: OS: OSX 10.7.0 or later,
Memory: 1 GB RAM,
Dedicated Video Memory,
Hard Drive: 2 GB
requirements - Linux: Ubuntu 14.04, Mint 17
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Dedicated Video Memory
Hard Drive: 2 GB
Requires the following
packages to be installed: libc6:i386, libasound2:i386,
libasound2-data:i386, libasound2-plugins:i386 and dependencies.
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