Shadow Man from Acclaim dates back to the late 90’s, releasing for PS1, N64, Dreamcast and PC, to generally positive reviews. Aside from a Ps2 sequel a few years later, the series has been dormant with only fresh comics made available for fans. Last year though Nightdive Studios released a remastered version of the original game and the world rejoiced, except if you had a Switch – but that wait is over now with the Switch release finally here. Worth the wait? Let’s take a look
You are Michael LeRoi. Half-living, half something else. You are stuck in a state of limbo as a guardian, protecting the world of the living from threats that can try to break free of Deadside. Unfortunately, the world is now in danger as an apocalyptic prophecy begins to gain momentum as Five serial killers have sold their souls to “Legion” to avoid death, and in doing so usher in the prophesied rise of Deadside – unless the Shadow Man can thwart Legions plans.
A relatively ambitious experience back in the day, fully voiced delivery with numerous key characters and dark themes, it still holds up today. Not only that, but the lore of the series can really draw you into its world too. Really early you’ll get a copy of the prophecy and just flicking through its colourful pages should pique your interest in the games voodoo leanings, no doubt convincing you to seek out as much collectible stuff in your journey to learn more. Nightdive also took the opportunity to include some cut content, so not only can newcomers appreciate a story unlike anything else, but those returning to deadside can find something new to sweeten the deal. To further drive home the old school single player adventure this game is, there’s no tacked on multiplayer
As soon as the game starts up and you find yourself at the menu screen, straight away any fears are alleviated for returning adventurers as the music kicks in and the background gives a taste of what’s to come. Surprisingly most of the game is untouched, so no need to worry about design changes with the characters or environments, as most improvements come in the form of resolution, enhanced textures and dynamic lighting. These modern flourishes actually enhance the game for me as it allows for many areas of the game to get an atmospheric boost. The new shadowing in particular can set the mood for some areas as shadows dance around surfaces depending on the light source.
Performance is a little tricky to talk about, not in a negative light mind you, given the game has visual settings that can be tweaked in the display menu. Portable offers up 720p, dynamic resolution scaling is employed, and can run between 50-60fps depending on your settings. Same applies docked, the game does now top out at 1080p with DRS still applied (bottoms out at 720p), and can generally run a bit better due to the boost afforded. You can probably find optimum settings online from others, but you’ll only be topping out the resolution or framerate with most settings off. Personally I left everything on, aside from motion blur, as this gave the game a somewhat lo-fi grainy look that matches the atmosphere which you don’t really get on other platforms – especially compared to the ultra clean PC version I played last year.
Shadow Man is a classic single player adventure from yesteryear and still feels as such with this remaster, though we do at least get a rework control system. That means plenty of exploration to solve puzzles or find dark souls to open up new doorways and all the getting lost that entails in between. This is an old school adventure after all, so there’s nothing much in the way of guidance you have nowadays, such as objective markers, and you have to rely on your own sense of direction. This also spills over into the world of the living as your journey will see Shadow Man straddling both, which you’ll have to be wary of if you find yourself stuck in a rut. You’ll often be scratching your head over the next course of action until a eureka moment hits, or you go crawling back to Nettie for some pointers. At least once visited most areas can be freely travelled to & from using your brothers teddy bear.
It’s not all jumps and puzzles you’ll be facing either as there’s plenty of foes trying to get in Shadow Man’s way. Not just regular fodder either as the serial killers employed by Legion will serve as the games boss characters. It’s here you will find the creaking bones of the original coming to the fore as the enemies eat up bullets like they going out of fashion, luckily the old tactic of slowly retreating whilst firing still works a treat so long as you got the space or a long corridor to backup into. There are other weapons to obtain as you go along, but the trusty Shadow Gun grows as your level does, can also do charged shots, so will always be your fall back weapon as some ammo can be scarce for other weapons. For better or worse, this is just a remaster for the most part so the gameplay, with regards to balance etc., has been pretty much untouched. Plus side is that its authentic, flip side to that is all the niggles and jank from before is still here.
Shadow Man: Remastered for the Switch is exactly the same classic adventure as was released last year for other platforms, with all the bonuses & quirks intact, only now with the added bonus of portable play. Granted, some tweaking is in order to maximise framerate etc. on the handheld, but then again that is your choice in what to prioritise. I suppose the big question is whether this will be worth another purchase for fans, and for me it is as the game runs well and there’s not really much else like it that you can play on the go. For newcomers its a no-brainer, you’re getting the best way to play an authentic 90’s adventure that you likely missed out on the first time.
A perfectly remastered and authentic 90’s adventure, now available on the go