Faithful to the original, warts and all
With its parallax scrolling backgrounds and evocative music, it felt mysterious and rich, even if it was essentially a pretty-clunky platforming beat-em up. Though the Amiga system would never have the power to bring its otherworldly prog-rock cover art to life, 1993’s Shadow of the Beast was, for its day, a sight to behold.
It’s a labour of love from London-based developers Heavy Spectrum that sees Shadow of the Beast return as a PS4 exclusive, having successfully petitioned Sony for the rights to resurrect the franchise.
Again, with its alien art style, it’s a visually striking game, bringing that iconic cover art to life in a way that was once thought impossible. The original game is included as part of the package, and it’s a fascinating evolution.
It looks great, but doesn’t control so well
What hasn’t been updated as successfully is the gameplay. Score-attack combat is let down by lengthy (though impressively gory) animations that make demonic anti-hero Aarbron feel sluggish to control, while the attempt to elucidate the original’s enigmatic story seems like a compromise the developers wish they didn’t have to make.
The plot points are here, but they’re locked behind hidden collectibles, meaning you can finish the game having pieced together only fragments of the story.
It is then in some respects a slavishly accurate remake: reimagining not only the original’s strengths, but blowing the dust off its warts, too.
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