review
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POSTED 25/5/16


SHADOW OF THE BEAST

Heavy Spectrum/Sony



...and we don’t know just where our bones will rest. To dust, we guess.

Beyond being a bold fashion statement, rose-coloured glasses can make us remember things being better than they actually were. A good example is Psygnosis’ Amiga showcase Shadow of the Beast. Lavishly packaged, with lavish artwork, a lavish soundtrack and lavish graphics, it was more tech demo than game. But it was, undoubtedly, lavish.

This rebirth makes many wise decisions – like inserting engaging gameplay. But it also tries too hard for that lavishness – sometimes successfully, sometimes unwisely.

You still play as the beastly warrior Aarbron, so you still come before ‘aardvark’ in the dictionary. You still scroll left and right into lavish scenery ripping anything that has the temerity to attack you to lavish shreds. There’s now an elaborate – and cool - system of attacks, defences and super-combo thingies. These include ‘rage chains’, which briefly go rhythm game as you belt out beheading ballet.

There are also power-ups to be purchased. Nab the right talisman and bolster Aarbron’s abilities. Or buy stuff like an emulated version of the original, its soundtrack and more. Noice!

You’ll get hints of sluggishness in battles as mini-animations play out, but nothing too drastic. Then you’ll hit platforming sections and uh-oh. Despite requiring pinpoint accuracy, things here are as controllable as epileptic jelly in a bouncy castle during an earthquake. You will die. Sure you have unlimited continues, but sacrificing innocent souls – as you’ll have to - locks out certain game parts.

As impressive as all get-out initially, SotB strives to break that infatuation the further you progress. Like a painful do-it-again-and-again level that’s essentially completely black. Seriously, it makes Disaster Area’s spaceship look like a Mardi Gras float. Just. Plain. Dumb.

Combining shades of the original, its distant cousin Altered Beast, God of War shavings and some Journey vibes, SotB ’16 is still a decent experience. But it could have been smashing...

take me back to the start...

 



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ALL WRITTEN CONTENT COPYRIGHT © AMY FLOWER 2008-2017. GAME IMAGES COURTESY OF RESPECTIVE GAMES COMPANIES.