Developer: Heavy Spectrum Entertainment Labs
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 17 May 2016
With an industry packed full of reboots, Shadow of the Beast feels like a breath of fresh air as the game’s gorgeous makeover makes for a decent entry into the PS4’s exclusive library. Sure the game suffers from a few gameplay mechanics that are never fully realized, but its relentless combat system and great level design proves for an enjoyable experience whether you have played the original or not.
The original Shadow of the Beast released back on the Commodore Amiga and featured 2D platforming with a simple combat system. Although we never played the original game we made sure to do thorough research on it before we jumped into the PS4 release. We looked at every level and every enemy to make sure we knew sort of what we were going into. From the start of the game the classic was pretty clear to us to have been the driving force behind the original game.
The game starts off as you are being controlled by a dark mage named Zelek. As he guides you to a palace in the distance, you are instructed to kill anything in your path. After a series of events take place, you realize that you were in the wrong and instead of killing the innocent, you then set your eyes upon Zelek himself. The hunt begins as you chase Zalek across various stages, powering up your skills, and decimating anything in your path.
Gamers that have played the likes of Abe’s Oddysee or Pandemonium, will be right at home when it comes to Shadow of the Beast’s platforming. You start at one end of the map and make your way to the end of the level by sliding down walls, solving puzzles and fighting enemies in a wave-based combat system. Every location in the game is beautifully detailed and really shines at 1080p 60FPS on the PS4.
Level design shines during the various stages. You will jump from the different levels in the distance using teleporters, and even go down to the depths of a cave to discover new encounters with enemies. Each level has various talismans to collect and Prophecy Orbs to break which will unlock a portion of a narrated backstory for you to watch. Although the game’s story is simple, it does not do a great job of telling it during a level, so you need to rely on these Orbs to fully understand what is going on.
When it comes to the game’s combat, expect to get rather irritated at first. The combat is relentlessly difficult, even at the end we battled to master it as it only gets harder. Every level has a set amount of encounters in it. This is where you will find the combat phases, each of which are then graded on a scale of Stone to Platinum. This all depends on how well you do in each encounter, how many hits you take during it as well as how many special moves and multipliers you rack up.
Beast also has Blood which he relies on for super moves. You can execute these by using the L2 button and an attack button. L2 and Square for example leaps him forward at an enemy and drain its health, giving it to you. Other abilities include a frenzied attack which relies on you pressing a direction and the square button in quick and timely precision to one-hit kill an enemy, moving onto the next one. All this makes for a fun combat sequence, if you know what you are doing. Again, it is hard, and nothing can save you from that other than using every possible special attack and roll to get out alive.
When you have completed a mission, all your points will get added together from your combat and exploration which is transferred into currency to use on various upgrades. These upgrades will improve your max health stat, and even unlock translations in the game for certain dialect, so when they speak, you can read and understand what they are saying.
Shadow of the Beast offers a solid platform adventure. We could just not help but feel that its combat needs a bit more polishing to make it really stand out. There are lots to do in the game across its many levels and the ability to replay the levels at higher difficulty adds much more to the game’s content. Shadow of the Beast is only R200 on the PlayStation Store, which makes for a cheap purchase, and the content it packs is pretty decent.