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Game Info:

Shadow Man Remastered
Developed By: Acclaim Studios Teeside
Published By: Nightdive Studios
Released: April 15, 2021
Available On: PlayStation 4, Windows, Switch, Xbox One
Genre: Action-Adventure
ESRB Rating: M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Violence, Strong Language
Number of Players: Single Player
Price: $19.99

Thank you Nightdive Studios for providing us with a review code!

Even though Shadow Man was already preserved via computer clients such as GOG and Steam, it has been 22 years and three console generations since console players played this classic. I’ve actually never played Shadow Man before so I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to do so. Little known fact, Shadow Man is actually based upon a set of comic books by the same name, published by Vailant Comics, although the comics host a different protagonist.

Shadow Man Remastered is a mix of both remake and remaster of the title previously released in 1999. Greatly enhancing the resolution and framerate, as well as adding cut content (although I don’t know what that cut content is exactly), it aims to be the definitive version of the Shadow Man experience. Starring a man known as Micheal LeRoi on the Liveside but called the titular Shadow Man on the Deadside. His goal is to collect the Dark Souls (no relation to the game) so that he can defeat Legion, a conglomerate of souls seeking to take over both the Liveside and Deadside and cause the end of the world. Voodoo priestess Mama Nettie assists Shadow Man as he does business on the Liveside, while a dead skeleton with the body of a snake and the voice of an Irishman named Jaunty helps out on the Deadside. As Shadow Man collects Dark Souls from both sides, his power increases and also gains him access to new areas.

The majority of the game takes place in Deadside, where Shadow Man traverses a horrifying landscape filled with red rivers, dreary skies, and a giant asylum where only the most evil of monstrosities live. Shadow Man feels very similar to classics such as the PlayStation 1-era Tomb Raider series. He’ll outrun traps, jump over lava pits, and traverse a nonlinear world to collect Dark Souls and other items he needs for his journey. The nonlinearity works in Shadow Man’s favor as it did make both Liveside and Deadside feel organic and making everyone’s playthrough feel unique in a way. For the most part, the movement does have a sense of weight to it with Shadow Man not being the fastest runner and he commits to a direction when jumping. It works for what he is effectively going through "a tomb filled with traps and treasures. " However, there are moments where the camera can act a little funny, causing Shadow Man to plummet to his untimely demise.

Shadow Man Remastered
Highlights:

Strong Points: Immersive atmosphere; solid voice acting; nonlinear gameplay works with the setting
Weak Points: Lack of guidance means you’ll probably get lost a lot;  takes a while to get going
Moral Warnings: Voodoo magic and religion; lots of blood and chunks; some sexual dialogue and barely dressed “sisters”; blaspheming 

Shadow Man's default weapon is a special pistol called the Shadow Gun. It has infinite bullets and gains a charge shot that becomes more powerful the more Dark Souls Shadow Man has in his possession. Frankly, the Shadow Gun is probably my least favorite weapon out of his arsenal as it just never feels powerful for me, despite it gaining power as the game goes forward. It doesn’t help that you’re stuck with it for a long time before Shadow Man gains another gun. Aiming does feel a little weird as Shadow Man automatically targets his enemies with his weapons, and the only way to manually aim is to go in a first-person view, stopping your movement. In the beginning, the combat is repetitive due to enemies taking a lot of damage and Shadow Man effectively only having one weapon for a good while. When he gains more weapons and items that utilize a magic bar, the combat becomes more tolerable.

As this is a remaster, the graphical department was mostly touched upon in lighting and resolution. The actual graphics themselves were untouched so the characters and environment are low-count polygons. Even if the graphics themselves haven’t aged all that well, the aesthetics and atmosphere are still as good as ever, especially with (from what I can tell) the increased lighting. For me, it ran at a stable 120FPS at 1440p resolution. The voice acting is surprisingly well done. I like how Shadow Man has an internal monologue every time he encounters a new area. The music, while only coming around every once in a while, fits the creepy and grim setting. One major improvement that Remastered did over the original is swapping out some of the sound effects. In the original from what I’ve seen of some footage, the Shadow Gun had a really loud annoying sound effect, and hearing that for hours on end would drive anyone insane. Thankfully, it is replaced with a much better sound effect with a lower pitch. There’s a lot of variety in the options settings from keybinding, frame limiting, and multiple display options. Since Shadow Man also was originally for Windows platforms, the keyboard and mouse controls feel natural—although I went with gamepad controls in the end. Gamepad controls are perfectly functional and are precise as well. You can't go wrong with either option.

Possibly the make-or-break part of Shadow Man is its lack of telling you where to go and what to do. The majority of hints a player will get are from Nettie and Jaunty in what to go for next. A first-time player will get lost every once in a while, and you’re also expected to remember to revisit areas to get Dark Souls or abilities you missed out on prior, and the fact that you won’t even retrieve letters and notes providing more context as to what Shadow Man needs to accomplish until way later in the game means running around in circles. There isn't even a tutorial in-game and it expects you to experiment with the controls and functions of items. This is the portion that makes Shadow Man Remastered feel most like a 1999 title. This may turn away some people, but for others, it may just increase that sense of adventure. It’s a decently challenging game, although it’s not frustrating as you can save your game at any moment as well as load your game from any moment (such as mistiming a jump).

Shadow Man Remastered
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Game Score 78%
Gameplay 15/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound 8/10
Stability 5/5
Controls 4/5

Morality Score - 34%
Violence 1/10
Language 3/10
Sexual Content 3/10
Occult/Supernatural 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

Given that Shadow Man is heavily influenced by Voodoo religion and culture, there are bound to be many moral concerns at work. It is extremely occult in nature with every character in the game using some form of Voodoo or dark magic. Enemies consist of zombies, ghouls, spirits, and other supernatural creatures. Violence is aplenty, with enemies either being burned to ash or exploding in a flurry of red mist and chunks. Language consist of “d*mn”, “a**hole”, “b*st*rd”, “b*tch” and “sh*t” to name a few. Many characters commit blaspheming (which is a given considering the nature of Shadow Man). One Voodoo god by the name of Loa is encountered, and Shadow Man offers heart-shaped “cadeaux" (French for presents) in exchange to increase his health.

In the beginning, it’s shown that Shadow Man and Nettie have a sexual relationship. He tends to make comments such as “She moves me in mysterious ways (and brother, sometimes she really does move me).” Halfway through the game, Nettie mounts herself on top of Shadow Man in a suggestive way to perform a ritual and it looks exactly like what you’d think they are doing. One enemy in Deadside are “sisters” who only seem to be covered in bandages and cloth.

Shadow Man Remastered is very much an aged product. There are some gameplay mechanics that take time to get used to, and it did take a while for me to warm up to it, due to some clunky platforming and the early game combat being monotonous. However, it does get better the longer you stick with it and I ended up seeing why it was held as a classic. It took me about 11 hours to beat it, which I feel is a fair length for an action-adventure game. (I did use a walkthrough for some parts, so it may take another person much longer if they attempt to do it all blind.) People accustomed to modern games and mechanics may not like Shadow Man as it feels like a 1999 product despite the enhancements. Morally, there’s a lot to stay away from such as the Voodoo influence and violence being the most notable aspects. Although if you’re itching for a classic game freshened up with a new coat of paint, Shadow Man Remastered is one of the better ones out there.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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