[Review] Shadowgate -Nintendo Switch

Written by Ch3llybun

Developer: In-House 

Publisher: Zojoi 

Release Date: 11/04/2019 

Price: £15.99/$19.99

Review code provided by:  Big Games Machine

Old or Bold…? 

Shadowgate is a first-person, point & click adventure that was originally released back in the 1980’s. Now, having been a 90’s baby I had no knowledge of this cult-classic or what its story originally entailed but I couldn’t wait to find out!  

As I already stated above, Shadowgate is a first-person, point & click adventure game that was originally released 30 years ago, back when point & click games were all the rage, back when gaming was a lot less forgiving. But what has changed? Well, the first thing that has considerably changed – and perhaps the most important thing – is the graphics. It’s been completely rebuilt from the ground up and compared to the original, it’s stunning. It’s all hand-drawn, which I love. But more on that later! Another difference is the integration of the item wheel and the interface. 

Get Back, Foul Beast! 

The gameplay does take some getting used to but it’s fairly simple. The interface and item wheel which I mentioned above can be quite intimidating to look at but as soon as you get to grips with what everything means you will fly through each area with no problem. Some of the puzzles can be a little awkward and require some extra deep thinking to solve them but as you progress through the game you will learn what sort of items go with what and so on. Essentially, you pass from room to room collecting items, defeating enemies and solving puzzles. Obviously, it’s not as simple as that. You need to use your noggin’, which I sometimes struggle with… 

As for the story, imagine an 80’s dark fantasy adventure book (you know the ones I mean) and this is pretty much what you have here, a visual novel with point & click features. Taking the role of the hero who is on a quest to stop an evil Warlock from raising an incredibly powerful demon from the Underworld. I really liked the way the story was told, from the cutscenes to the little pieces of text you get whilst progressing through a room. Every item you select, every area you go into gives you a little bit more into the story so you can almost feel what is going on. For example, you will go into an icy cave and you will be told of how your teeth are chattering and how you’re hugging yourself for warmth. Things like that really add to the who experience. 

There are also four different difficulty modes just in case you find it too easy, not that you will. I found it a tough game on normal! But in truth, the main story isn’t very long and depending how good you are with figuring things out you may complete it quite quickly, so it’s always good to know you can replay it with a higher difficulty that may alter the path you take! You also have the added option of toggling the graphics from the new to the old which is really cool; it has pixelated transitions between rooms and has the retro style text and also toggle on to listen to Hiroyuki Masuno’s original chiptunes. If you had played the game previously, that is a really cool feature.  

All the bells and whistles? 

As I stated earlier, all of Shadowgate’s 2D art is hand-drawn and it looks stunning. Okay, no it’s not the best game I have seen on the Nintendo Switch but come on, this was made in 1989! That’s incredible! There is a hell of a lot of detail in each room and area and the games soundtrack was also pleasantly surprising too with fully digitally-orchestrated dynamic sounds. Upon entering areas and rooms you will also hear sounds relating to what is happening; water droplets falling from the roof, fire hitting off your shield as you defend yourself against a very angry dragon, the growling of said dragon… It’s great.  

Touch screen support? Yes! 

That’s right! There have been many games on the Nintendo Switch that were great but would’ve been a lot better with touch screen support so luckily, Shadowgate delivers on this! It makes that at first over-bearing interface a lot more bearable. If you prefer the more ‘pointy & clicky’ approach, that’s cool too. This game allows you to play how you want to.  

Should you get your adventuring boots on? 

Overall, I did enjoy the brief time I spent with Shadowgate but I didn’t find myself wanting to go back for more when I had finished. It just didn’t hook me enough, unfortunately. The clunky UI was sometimes frustrating but the touch screen integration made this bearable. Just about. The game itself looks and sounds great and it does a great job at telling a very basic story. If you’re a fan of the original game, you will love Shadowgate for what it is but if you’re a new player completely, I think you may struggle.  

Pro’s 

  • Hand-drawn art looks stunning 
  • Touch Screen Integration 
  • Good story-telling 

Con’s 

  • Quite short 
  • Awkward interface 
  • Simple story 

Verdict

3/5 

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