There's no sense in pretending that Shadow Man isn't a dated experience. But games like this — originally seen on PlayStation, N64, PC and Dreamcast — rather force a re-examination of the somewhat meaningless criticism "dated". Seriously, what does it mean? A change in standards, perhaps. Differing expectations from a contemporary gaming experience. But, really, when a game like Shadow Man is re-released, is it fair to compare it to more slick, modern titles? Why should a re-release of an older title not reflect the time in which it was originally released? All of these are questions that Shadow Man Remastered can't answer, obviously, but they're worth keeping in mind.
Some will bounce straight off the game, obtuse as it can be. Your objectives are rarely clear in terms of a distinct A-to-B structure, there's no map feature to speak of and you'll find your hand quite resolutely unheld throughout. Taking control of Mike LeRoi (the titular Shadow Man) you'll find your journey into Deadside is long, sprawling, difficult and intentionally confusing. The game in its original incarnation could be compared to the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but this remaster tweaks the inputs, loses the "tank" controls and ultimately feels a lot more like a traditional third-person shooter, albeit one with a lot more platforming and exploration than usual. Think Ratchet & Clank, but vastly more challenging.
Believe us, you'll get lost in its world. Literally, as well as figuratively. Shadow Man Remastered is atmospheric to a fault, but it's also an enormous, twisty-turny and almost entirely unguided experience that's going to hugely alienate a lot of its potential audience. This is actually a vastly cleaned-up, improved, better-controlling version of the even more esoteric original game. Best of all, Nightdive Studios has restored reams of previously cut material from the original design documents; new levels, boss battles and music (from the original composer, Tim Haywood). For fans, this is the definitive way to enjoy Shadow Man. For newcomers, this is the best chance you'll probably have to even attempt to do so.
Is Shadow Man bad, then? No, absolutely not. But — and we can't stress this enough — they absolutely don't make games like this any more, and they don't for a reason. The medium has absolutely moved on from this kind of deliberately maze-like environment, from this kind of enforced, extensive backtracking, from thrusting the player into situations they actively cannot solve without progressing further elsewhere in the game (and with no indication or hints given that this is the case). It's going to drive some people mad.
A bit of an interesting paradox, then; it's difficult to recommend Shadow Man Remastered to those who haven't played the game before, while — at the same time — if they do wish to check it out, this is absolutely the only way we'd recommend doing so. It's a sterling port, rich with new and restored content, improved visuals, copious customisation and almost-flawless performance; it runs at 60fps locked with only the very occasional hitch. Shadow Man has never been a masterpiece, but it is a clear labour of love with plenty to offer those willing to endure its more aged mechanics and structural curiosities. We can only hope that plenty will have the patience to do so.
Fans of Dark Souls will probably enjoy this. I know I will.
So it was maze-like... I knew there was something that put me off before. For a price drop I'd be willing to give it another go. It was tough only having so much time to play it as a rental in the past.
I love the maze like nature of this game. Learning the massive map and how it interconnects is very satisfying. I beat the whole game 100% at least 4 or 5 times on N64.
Good game but the shooting gameplay is not very interesting. Platforming and exploration are ok.
One of my favorite N64 games.
I remember being super creeped out at the Asylum, but never really managed to finish the game...
Maybe I should give another go at it, but time is something that's harder and harder to come by...
I remember this from back in the day, never actually played it though. I'm intrigued, but the confusing maze like levels give me pause. Perhaps I'll wait for a sale.
Just waiting for the inevitable physical release from Limited Run.
So it's finally out?
Great! I know it's not the best remaster (or game) but it's always been in my top 3 N64 games so I will gladly double/triple/quadruple dip.
Edit - I don't get the criticism about the maze-like structure of the game when everyone is asking for open-world level design these days. OK, you don't have a mini-map in the corner of the screen with your objectives flashing on it, or an arrow at the top showing you the direction to follow (ok, there's no map at all). Everywhere I read the reviews are focused on how easily you can be lost and I think it's unfair. Why don't we read this about Metroid / Why is this praised in Metroid? Well, Shadowman would be an awful game if exploration was not extremely rewarding. There is no dead-end that doesn't reward you with something. What's more, there's no actual dead-end. Every part of the map is structured to get you to the next (in circumvoluted ways maybe). And you can fast-travel — to more destinations than in Zelda OoT (using this game as an example since it's referenced in this review). So yes, there's some backtracking but things get much easier and handier after a while just like any other well designed game.
Great, great remaster of a great game.
I had this as a kid. Enjoyed the beginning, got stuck after some hours and lost interest.
I completed this on the N64 and strongly recommend it to fans of action adventure games. It’s worth persisting to see it through to the end.
"Come on, slowpoke!" (still say that to folk today lol!) Really moody explorarama that did the Valiant comics a favour. (I have them somewhere.) Y'know, kinda game folk loved before everything went open world lol. Will grab this from Limited Run for sure.
@echoplex Yeah, honestly I got more lost in Metroid Dread than I ever did in Shadow Man.
Not my cup of tea, but I appreciate the reference to "The Princess and the Frog".
Really good game on the n64
It's great to see it one switch
Prepare to die a lot, the game isn't exactly generous with checkpoints. You have to go through quite a lot of fairly challenging platforming just before the first boss fight (again and again - the boss isn't the easiest either).
@shgamer yes, and the remaster is based on the original PC version, which could display more enemies on screen at a time than an N64. Get ready for 5-monster ambushes !
@echoplex I've tried the 5 (or was it 6) monster ambush once or twice, it wasn't that difficult (you just have to strafe around them and pick up the health bonuses they all leave behind when they die).
Personally I played the dreadful PS1 version almost to completion back in 2000 (I found 118 out of 120 dark souls, but gaveup on the last 2 after trying for hours - good thing this game has excellent music).
@echoplex I don't mean this to be snarky, but do note that I gave this an 8. I think it's worth highlighting to players, the majority of whom won't have played this before, that it isn't structured like a modern game and newcomers should be aware that it may be more difficult to navigate that they may expect.
I suggest with the "Cons" in a review that if it sounds like a "Pro" to you, then great.
@shgamer Yea this is not an easy game. It will test your patience.
Did...you just referenced princess and the frog?!?
I love it when an N64 port retains the vaseline-o-vision from the original.
One of those "we didn't plan for strafing" games that loses about 90% of its fight difficulty when you use the ultimate move: stepping slightly to the side. It will definitely scratch that nostalgia itch, but I agree that if you have no memory of this game you're going to be disappointed.
@MeloMan Always intrigued by this one. I did rent it once. Loved the atmosphere, but got approximately nowhere before I had to return it 😃
I love playing these older slightly janky early 3D era games. It reminds me of my childhood and the world of this game looks so interesting, only a matter of time until I pick it up.
This was one of my favorite games on the N64. I liked it so much in fact that I ALMOST bought it on my Dreamcast as well to see the improved Graphics. Shadowman 2 was one of my most anticipated games on PS2, but that was hot garbage. I'm intrigued by this one I must admit.
@StuartGipp I'm sorry if I gave you the impression to be a little rough in my comment but it was mostly directed at all the other reviews that tend to have the same criticism towards this game. I'm actually glad you took the time to review it and I agree with all the rest. If someone thought this game was worth spending some time and money on a remaster then there's a reason (or more). Thanks for the review!
Downloaded it earlier and already spent 2 hours on it and to be fair I DID get a bit lost but that's because they tweaked a few things here and there right ? Other than that I'm having a blast (from the past).
I played and finished this game on N64. Loved the music, the atmosphere, the dread... it was hard, but not Dark Souls hard... way easier. One of the very few adult targeted experiencies on N64. I wish they did a remake with next graphics and more modern narrative.
"The medium has absolutely moved on from this kind of deliberately maze-like environment"
I am currently playing Jedi Fallen order and it certainly has a maze like structure in it's levels albeit with a bit more shortcuts and modern gameplay.
I adore the remasters of old Acclaim N64 games thath Nightdive Studios put forth, this as an absolute gem.
One of only a handful of games I wanted but missed out on buying during the n64 era. Will be getting this at one point for sure.
@oxcar There were actually a surprising lot of adult-targeted games on N64. Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Turok 1-3, Doom, Quake 1+2, Resident evil 2, Starcraft... I know that the common belief back in the day was that N64 has only kids games(which probably impacted sales) but nothing could be further from the truth.
@chipia I loved my N64, but I can't agree. This must be the first time I read somebody saying that N64 had many adult oriented games. I suppose it depends on what you consider an adult targeted game. Goldeneye was rated for teens for example.
Not very familiar with the game or the era. I reckon I'll eventually pull the trigger.
One of my favorite N64 games.
Was basically an early attempt at a 3D 3rd person Metroid
Having all the cut content restored is awesome. The first temple actually has a boss at the end of it now. I was shocked!
They're gonna ***** remake Superman 64 or Daikatana before they bother with something good like Eternal Darkness.
I think Mike LeRoi was one of gaming’s first black protagonists.
@Dizavid I’ll take a remaster of Daikatana
@Dizavid Oh man, I've had such a hankering to play Eternal Darkness again for awhile now. It's ridiculously expensive to find an original gamecube copy these days though. A remaster on Switch would be amazing, I just don't know how that would ever happen, I don't think Silicon Knights even exists as a company anymore.
This is true! Another reason why this game was fairly groundbreaking at the time. Plus it dealt with some pretty heavy subject matter and even had swear words on a Nintendo console! I’ll be picking this one up…after some backlog clearance off course
I can't see the game in the UK e-shop. Is it only me?
Kinda remind me of the old PS1 Tomb Raider games in many ways. Now if only SquareEnix would allow Nightdive to remaster the first 3 of them (yes even III - the problem with that game is the obnoxious save system paired with unfair sudden deaths - other than that it's a great game IMO).
I played it on Steam a couple of years ago. It felt like a 3rd person Metroid Prime or King's Field but more complex and labyrinthine. I really liked it.
So, by tank controls, u had to press down to go forward? Like OG resident evil? Tho, that had fixed camera angles. I'm not sure this is the same, it doesn't look like that's the case.
I just cant with games from the early 3D / N64 era.
The graphics have just aged so horribly, that in hindsight SNES and even NES games are visually actually more appealing.
And its not just the aesthetics, its also the fog, horrible textures and hard to see what you even have to shoot at.
@twztid13 The character was very slow and some actions like strafing or walking backwards were a nightmare. Some jumps were also difficult, because of the animations that took forever before your character actually started to jump, so you had to time everything down to the frame. Think playing Mario 64 with Link's steel boots in Ocarina of Time.
In the remaster the character responds instantly. The controls for the camera are also much easier and faster.
Just bought it and after playing for about 2 hours, I find it really hard to advise any other than the nostalgia gamer, to actually buy this game. Remastered, here, doesn't do much, and most of the levels are a confusing mess of labyrinthine design. You'll find yourself frustrated over the fact that you just passed the same door, over and over again. Platforming in this game is still as atrocious as it was in the previous consoles, (N64, PS1, DC), which are the versions I played. If you haven't heard of it, or you are in doubt, I advise to keep your money and wait for a sale or some magic update that, (doubtfully), improve this. A map would be a good inclusion. Anything at all that allows you to see your progression, would be a welcome inclusion. Would be a hard pass for me if I hadn't paid already. So, a 5/10 for me.
Tap here to load 47 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...