30 Years Greater
Shadowgate is an incredible point and click adventure originally created by Zojoi and released in 1987 on the Apple Macintosh, and eventually the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was recreated in 2014 for the PC, and just released on April 11th for the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. I had the pleasure of playing through and reviewing Shadowgate due to a media copy of the game given to Gamer Nation News from Abstraction. I would like to give a huge thank you to Abstraction and offer praise to their great work of bringing games to modern consoles.
A first person adventure game, Shadowgate uses point and click mechanics and a wide variety of puzzles and mystery to propel gameplay in an extremely pleasant way. I was able to pick up the game on the Switch, and I must say this is the perfect console for Shadowgate’s style. The touch screen allowed for much quicker and more comfortable clicking that I would use when I became tired of scrolling with the joystick, missing what I was aiming for and having to scroll back slightly. Being able to take this game on the go is extremely beneficial to anyone needing to avoid annoying family at gatherings, kill time at the airport, or even escape the kids and play in the garage for short periods at a time.
A Castle Worth Exploring
I am not an avid player of point and click adventures, but each time I pick one up I fall more in love with the genre. Shadowgate is no exception. Since the constant, quick, and overwhelming action is lacking in these types of games, it is of utmost importance for it to hold the audience with a great story. The lore that was created falls perfectly in line with many other fantasy settings that I thoroughly enjoy. Feeling like a campaign from Dungeons and Dragons, you take on the role of a hero having to traverse the castle of Shadowgate in order to defeat the Warlock Lord, Talimar. Talimar was once a member of the Circle of Twelve, a group of wizards. He became thirsty for power, and was shunned and imprisoned because of his corruption by the other members of the Circle. However, Talimar eventually escapes and only Lakmir remains of the original Circle of Twelve to assist you in stopping Talimar from gaining ultimate power. Orcs, banshees, and even dragons are encountered as you undertake the quest to stop the Warlock Lord.
Exploring the castle is no easy feat, and there are many puzzles and mysteries that must be uncovered before facing the Warlock Lord. Each room must be visited more than once after new and useful items are found, spells are learned, or different passages are discovered. Magic must be used on certain items in order to move them, or reveal something new that can be used to progress. It took me a while to get used to going back and forth between rooms after discovering something new, but after getting the hang of it I fell in love with the game. In one instance I had to use an Ice Elemental from one room to freeze a lake in another. After the lake was frozen I was able to walk across it to recover a key from a chained skeleton. Upon clicking the chains, it states “Doing your best impersonation of a strongman, you attempt to pull the chain apart with your bare hands. It is no wonder you never became a strongman.” This type of humor is also seen while describing your death if ever burnt up by a dragon, or falling off of a bridge. Small jokes make Shadowgate even more enjoyable, all while continuing to portray the urgency and seriousness of the quest.
Artwork, Music, and Voices
A review of Shadowgate is incomplete without a mention of the outstanding artwork. The game is visually stunning, and Abstraction mentions that one of the most exciting parts to remake of this game was the art. Original members of Zojoi were actually involved in drawing and painting each individual scene for the remastered version of the game. Every scene is worthy of its own display in a gallery, capturing the mood of the game using a variety of colors and shadows. Greens, blues, and reds are placed in positions that make you feel cold if the room is meant to be cold, or a little toasty if there is a fire breathing dragon nearby. The music is also a major addition to this game, creating a somber dungeon crawling experience, but also making the atmosphere tense when danger is nearby. Each cutscene is provided with a great narration and update on the story by Lakmir, the sole remaining wizard from the Circle of Twelve. The voice acting is excellent, giving the sense that your quest is imperative, but also providing some mystique about the wizard, Warlock Lord, and the castle itself. There are also little hints and references to other literature, such as finding the skull of Yorick in the first room. Yorick becomes your “sidekick”, or more of a jokester with sassy remarks to your actions.
Shadowgate is now available on PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and the Nintendo Switch. With a price of $19.99, it would be a disservice not to pick up and play this game. Being released this long after its original version, Shadowgate allows the new generation of gamers like myself to experience a game that may have otherwise been missed. It also should easily recapture the imaginations of return players, and holds up perfectly with its beautiful art and setting for today’s consoles. I found very few negatives while playing, with one being countered by the Switch’s touchscreen abilities. If I had to use the joystick exclusively for exploration, I would have eventually become frustrated with how the cursor moves. I mentioned previously about often scrolling past my objective, then I would feel like a golfer that continues to miss a short putt and must go back and forth past the hole. The puzzles were often frustrating with the difficulty and very little direction. However, in these instances your trusty skull Yorick would offer a hint if you speak to him. Overall, I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a good point and click adventure, a fantasy setting, or a classic quest in which the hero must defeat the villain before destruction of the world occurs.