Remember Acclaim? They put out some cool comic based games like Turok and another title people don’t often mention, ShadowMan. Well the ShadowMan is back in this surprise remaster courtesy of everyone’s favourite remaster crew NightDive, turn the lights off and let’s have a look.
Michael LeRoi isn’t a lucky person, he lost his family due to an evil voodoo witch who tricked him into serving her, his little brothers soul wanders Deadside and he has a bone mask woven into his rib cage.
ShadowMan is some what lucky in that he can’t die, he’s the lord of Darkside and curries the favour of a powerful Voodoo called Mama Nettie, he also has a giant Asylum suddenly appear out of nowhere in Darkside and a wise cracking Irish Snake with a skull face called Jaunty as a side kick, also the Bone Mask thing too, swings and roundabouts.
The story in ShadowMan was insanely ambitious for the time and still hits quite hard today, every character has voice acting which is brilliantly done and the dark and sadistic lives of the Serial Killers you’re hunting down are far from glorified.
Visually ShadowMan Remastered does still look like a product from its time but the lighting has gone into overdrive, NightDive have done wonders to make the world look and feel even more atmospheric than it already did.
Character models are quite detailed but have a blocky look to them and the scenary can look pretty bare at times, this is countered by the actual art direction which manages to encapsulate the macabre so well, ranging from the grim Swamp to the blood stained walls of the Asylum and beyond!.
While the game looks like a Dreamcast title with extra power the performance runs at a crisp 60fps and feels so smooth, I’ve been back to ShadowMan a few times over the years and can say hands down it has never EVER felt this good to play.
Atmosphere is a big factor in ShadowMan and thankfully it has only been improved with the audio in remastered. As mentioned earlier the game is fully voice acted and you can’t help but smile at Jaunty and his comments but the soundtrack and ambient sound really get you immersed into the sadistic world of Deadside. ShadowMan will often burst into descriptive soliloquy which would make even the toughest of death metal bands blush and this goes a long way into dragging you kicking and screaming into the depravity of the game world.
ShadowMan plays like a mixture of a third person shooter with collecathon tendencies, Mario if he had a gun and the Cradle of Filth discography. The main loop of the game involves you exploring the game world for Dark Souls which open further areas of the Asylum and lead you to the 5 Serial Killers you need to take down in order to stop Legions plan.
The game is split into a few hub areas and divided between reality and Deadside which you can jump between using your little brother Luke’s Teddy. While this is a good idea there isn’t too much to seperate the two styles and was touched upon more in the sequel 2ndComing.
Controls are akin to titles like Tomb Raider and involves alot of intricate platforming, a good slice of combat and even more getting lost in an often confusing sector of hell. Due to the controls being a little more “tanky” back in the day despite how well it plays with a pad there are still some curious movement skills and awkward sideways jumping which is more prone to getting you killed than getting you across your pits.
The combat in ShadowMan is slightly clunky due to the slow firing of the weapons and the spongey nature of the demons you’ll be filling with lead. Often it’s a game of strafe and run backward firing upwards of five slow moving shots into them hoping for the best.
In terms of the remaster, the controls do feel greatly improved and NightDive even managed to include some extra areas within the game making it the most complete and playable version yet.
The only thing holding ShadowMan Remastered back is the fact that it is as previously mentioned a product of its time, while it is a game I personally love and couldn’t wait to see how this remaster played out, new eyes may not be quite as enamoured. Confusing level layout means you can end up running around the same areas time and time again and with the lack of hand holding and pointing you in the right direction may see a few less diligent gamers turning it off before the game truly gets its claws into you.
ShadowMan Remastered is a fine reminder of a beautifully atmospheric, comic book fuelled adventure that at the time was criminally overlooked. A dash of paint and some very tempting extras help cement this as the ideal way to explore the world of ShadowMan and hopefully reinvigorate the series. With the new comic reboot on the horizon it’s never been a better time to grab some skulls, practice your Voodoo and grab a drink or twelve with Jaunty!.
A fantastic title with atmosphere to spare, dated for some and a sight for sore eyes for others.
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