REVIEW: Shadowgate

REVIEW: Shadowgate

Developed by ICOM Simulations Inc (later known as Rabid Entertainment) and published by Mindscape in the distant year of 1987, Shadowgate was the third title from a series of point-and-click adventure games for Mac, the MacVenture. Fast-forward to 2019 and, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Shadowgate gets a new version under the name of Shadowgate (remake).

Chances are that, like me, you never heard about this game before. But fear not, my fellow adventurer: now developed by Abstraction Games and General Arcade and published by Abstraction Games, players of all ages will have the opportunity to know more about the history of games in a challenging point-and-click adventure that will take you through the depths of an ancient castle in a quest to stop an ancient evil. Bring your spellbook and your torches – a lot of them! – and check Life is Xbox before venturing in those dark and dangerous dungeons.

Amazing hand-drawn visuals wait for you in Shadowgate
  • Great visuals: I cannot start this review not praising the artists responsible for the world of Shadowgate in this remake. As soon as you begin your adventure, you’re welcomed by an excellent sequence telling the story of the moving castle and the quest upon your shoulders. And right after this sequence, you will see the outstanding work in each scenario, varying between icy caves, dusty hallways, fiery pits and much more, all with impressive hand-drawn 2D scenarios that just becomes better and better as you advance in your adventure. The visual effects of flickering flames from torches and candles or from your spells have also this same quality, granting a great visual experience in this adventure.
  • Story: In Shadowgate, you play as an adventurer that, guided by a mysterious voice, arrives at the Castle Shadowgate, where Talimar, the Warlock Lord, is trying to unleash an ancient evil and, with it, destroy the world! Arriving at the castle, the voice identifies itself as the ghost (or whatever you prefer to call it) from Lakmir, a powerful mage remnant of the Circle of Twelve, a group of powerful mages who have been decimated by Talimar. And now, through ancient obelisks hidden inside the castle, you will be able to obtain knowledge from him that will guide you through its dungeons and halls until you find your goal.
  • Sound and voice acting: Another spot-on aspect of the game is the music. It’s incredible how they managed to transmit the perils our character is facing in his adventure through the great music present in each area of the game. And as good as the music is the performance of the actor that plays Lakmir, your guide and narrator of the adventure. With a weary voice tone, he was able to communicate the feelings of the ancient mage related to our hero in this adventure. Very good job!
  • Wrong answer! When you fail in a puzzle or take a wrong turn in a corridor, there’s a big chance you will die in Shadowgate. But this is far from being a problem since you can reload the game from a quick save. This actually makes it interesting to discover all the possible ways you can drop dead in this game. For instance, I’ve already been sliced by a goblin, melted by a dragon, stumbled and broke my neck (this always happen when your torch is off… remember always to keep some torches ready to be lit in your backpack!) and more. Don’t know if you are a curious player who will be interested in it, but the inquiring players will have a lot to discover.
  • Feeling too easy? If you’re feeling the adventure too easy, I invite you to try the more advanced modes, in which your torches will run out, adding the complexity of time to finish the game to your adventure, or you can’t die in the game.
Prepare to face an ancient evil
  • Need some tips? Although some players prefer to be taken by the hand through obstacles and difficulties, I’m one of those who enjoys a challenge (and no, I don’t think Sekiro should have an easier mode)! But in a point-and-click game, you need at least directions to progress. The one responsible for giving you directions in this game is Yorick, a skull you run right on the beginning of your adventure. He’s always complaining and saying useless stuff, but he also gives you some directions that are so vague that I hardly could find any use on it. As he barely says where to go, what to do, how to do and when to do is all up for you to discover. And to understand the logic behind each puzzle won’t be an easy task! You have a tough job ahead, adventurer.
Hmmm… what should I do in this room?
  • Confusing controls: I can hardly explain how, but yes, they messed up with the controls in a point-and-click game. Somehow, the developers ended up mixing a command wheel button with a context command button and a cancel button. Not to mention the inventory button and the bad navigation in it. Sometimes you press the context button and no action is triggered. First, you need to do another action like if the game needed to clear its memory cache before a new action could be performed. I more than once ended up destroying or discarding items during my adventure due to the clumsy controls. The frustration from its confusing controls totally tore apart the immersion.
Your radial menu, with all the options you have ar your disposal to interact with game elements

Score: 69%
Bringing back to life a title so old as this one wasn’t an easy task. But Abstraction Games and General Arcade did a marvelous job rebuilding the world of Shadowgate. With first-rate artwork, graphics and music, the developers brought to life this old-school adventure most of our readers never heard about (and here I include myself!). Unfortunately, they dropped the ball with the controls of the game, messing up a lot from the game experience. Nonetheless, this is an adventure that every player who enjoys a good point-and-click or challenging game should try!

Developer:  Abstraction Games and General Arcade   Publisher:  Abstraction Games
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: Steam, Switch and PS4
Time to beat: Guessing around 8 and 10 hours for your first run (if you don’t get lost too much, like me). A wild guess of 20 hours for fully completing
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: Tough. Especially for the ‘Winning the game on Ironman mode (no saving)’
Perfect for: Point-and-click/Adventure fans. 
Xbox Game Store link: Click here