Shadowgate (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 24.11.2019

Review for Shadowgate on Nintendo Switch

The author of this article is not a fan of the MacVenture line of adventures, and the only reason he got to try them out (on the NES), was their distinctive look, and, admittedly, very good atmosphere. Sure, some still love them, but there's a reason why the genre has moved on, leaving the likes of Shadowgate behind. Zojoi begs to differ, though, as shown in the remaster of this age old cult classic. Here's a quick look on the Switch version.

If you want to be objective, Shadowgate, whether on the Macintosh back in 1987, or the NES in 1989, wasn't a visually impressive game - and yet many, this critic included, still like how it looked. Is it because of the "magic" of simplicity of that video game era, or nostalgia? Well, it's probably both. This Shadowgate is a remaster, though, thus it has ditched the old look. Logical? Yes, but the new style is way too bland to be really called 'better.' To be more precise, the new grittier and more "realistic" look lacks character, and feels like it takes its cue from those lifeless, a-dime-a-dozen, hidden-object games.

Screenshot for Shadowgate on Nintendo Switch

Moving on, while a remaster, this is actually the old adventure with a new coat of paint, thus the plot remains as simplistic as possible, with just a few pieces of added text that don't help improve the generic, fantasy 101 tale of the original, which can be summed up in: dark lord is summoning a demon - stop him! Also, like the 1987 Shadowgate, the castle you'll brave looks more like a theme park than a actual, "real" place, with each scene essentially having the feeling of a room that's not really connected with the rest of the structure.

The real problems begin with the gameplay, however. Fans may disagree, but this is really the part that could do with some heavy redesign. Those who have played the original will surely remember that this came in an era where you could fail in adventure games - and failure in Shadowgate is quite common. Expect death in every corner; from simply exploring an area, to picking an item, to not having the right item with you. Oh, and speaking of items, it's possible to ruin your play-through by simply destroying or losing an object that's crucial to reach the end.

Screenshot for Shadowgate on Nintendo Switch

Should Zojoi be applauded for keeping the challenge intact? Probably, but this means that this title remains an acquired taste that's not for everyone, as it keeps mechanics associated with very early, pre-LucasArts adventures, which makes the whole journey a very trial-and-error one, as your skill with puzzles don't matter much; puzzles which can have pretty obscure solutions, something that coupled with the whole easy-to-ruin-a-game thingy, makes this a pretty aggravating ride. On the bright side, there's a robust hint system on offer that's pretty helpful, and a decent amount of hints scattered around, although that doesn't mean that this helps with the trial-and-error problem mentioned before.

Screenshot for Shadowgate on Nintendo Switch

Thankfully, this includes the ability to save anywhere you want. You don't mind all that and actually like the torturous nature of the original? Great, then you can disable hints, and even try the Ironman mode, which forces you to finish this in one sitting - the ultimate challenge for the most nostalgic amongst Shadowgate fans. These don't really make the experience any better for the rest, of course, but those who loved the original will probably appreciate the additions. This critic has found more enjoinment by enabling the original NES chiptunes that are included here...

One last note. Concerning the controls, this is definitely a game that's better experienced with touchscreen controls. In that sense, this, along with the original iPad version, is indeed better than the PS4, Xbox, and PC ones. That being said, the UI is very clunky, and not that user-friendly. It's not bad or anything, but it turns the simple process of doing all the usual item collecting/using into a chore, with a "wheel" style menu that requires some getting used to. It's obvious that Zojoi tried to make things simpler. Sadly the end result is not there yet.

Screenshot for Shadowgate on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

If not a fan of the Macintosh/NES Shadowgate, this won't convince you otherwise, as it's the same, below average (yes, fellow nostalgic friend) game. Now, if a fan, or think that this is for you, and don't mind playing something with early '80s visuals, you are advised to play the original, which is somewhere out there on the web (and completely free), as the "improved" visuals of this remaster actually lack that special retro magic, and the few additions aren't worth the price of admission.

Developer

Abstraction

Publisher

Abstraction

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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