Ok, first thing’s first. Shadow Man Remastered is weird. And not in the Silent Hill 2, weird-but-good kind of way, if you know what I mean. The moment Shadow Man begins with its dramatic scenes of an impending apocalypse, it’s straight-up obvious that there’s a collective tonne of jank around the corner.
All Sorts of Issues
In regards to the story and characters, Shadow Man tries to come across as serious and brooding like a Linkin Park music video. Although just ends up sounding very angsty and kind of cringe at the same time. The off-kilter writing and B-movie level voice acting not helping its cause.
When you break down the gameplay department, it’s not much more exciting either.
The main protagonist, Michael has these awkward, tank-like controls which also slow him down when moving backwards for some reason. Like trying to pull an elephant along on a string. And the jumping mechanics for the platforming sections just don’t feel good, full stop.
The Remaster does spruce up the controls a little bit, however, it’s only a touch better.
The Remaster does spruce up the controls a little bit, however, it’s only a touch better. Still can’t change direction mid-air though…
Kind of grinds my gears a bit, not gonna lie.
Shadow Man’s Remastered’s Shallow Gunplay
Once you combine all that baggage with Shadow Man’s repetitive, lacklustre gunplay, you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for buyer’s remorse.
Look I’m not saying Shadow Man’s terrible, it’s just alright… It’s ok. It could be better. A lot better. Because let’s be real, most of the fights can be narrowed down to shooting undead enemies from afar or strafing from side to side while you just simply wait for an enemy’s health to drain towards zero. In other words, it’s not that appealing.
There’s only so many times a player can run around in a circle and shoot an entire rounds worth of bullets into an enemy. Then repeat the same type of encounter, over and over again without it getting old, sooner or later. And while there are a couple of different weapons to be found throughout the journey, it doesn’t take long for the formula to dampen the Shadow Man experience.
Why can’t Michael move and shoot when aiming manually? It’s been 20 years!
Also, why can’t Michael move and shoot when aiming manually? It’s been 20 years! The devs included a weapon wheel but they still can’t make the main character move in first-person? Come on!
Some Not-So-Bad Presentation
That all being said, the level designs and platformer sections are surprisingly well-made. Pity the controls don’t stack up. Although the variety of different obstacles and challenges that Michael has to overcome can be quite engaging at times. Ranging from walking on narrow beams, to solving treacherous puzzle areas or overcoming some tight jumping sections (when the controls actually want to work in your favour). So a few thumbs up there.
The graphical presentation is also pretty decent for a remaster. Looking back at the original release on Nintendo 64 (Not the PS1 version, that was awful) Shadow Man’s spooky atmosphere definitely had its own charm and really sold that hardcore, dark and gritty, horror-film aesthetic. Especially in the game’s lighting and textures.
Shadow Man Remastered’s New Features
And now with Shadow Man Remastered edition, Nightdive Studios are cranking up its graphical elements with 4K widescreen and HDR support, enhanced textures, per-pixel lighting, a field of view slider, ambient occlusion and other post-processing effects.
All of the cut content from the original developers, Acclaim is being restored.
What’s also really cool for fans of the 1999 release is that all of the cut content from the original developers, Acclaim is being restored. And in some cases, being completely made from the ground up by Nightdive Studios. Their original creations being based on leftover in-game assets and design documents from Acclaim. Some of the new features include more bosses, enemies and levels. As well as a remastered soundtrack and SFX, a handful of tweaks to enemy behaviour, physics and a bunch of modern improvements all around that would be way too long to list here. A lot of neat stuff for fans of the original, I must say.
At the end of the day, Shadow Man is a tough sell for newcomers, because other action-platformers have refined this genre to a T. Veterans will most likely be happy with all the new additions, but even then it still falls flat in a few key aspects. The gunplay is as simplistic as it gets, the movement controls are super jank for modern standards and the story’s presentation is the equivalent of watching a direct-to-DVD horror movie… Well, I guess that’s one redeeming quality, ey?
Shadow Man truly shows it age, even with the Remastered coat of paint. The story and characters are just flat-out ridiculous and the general gameplay won’t hold your attention for long enough. Props to Nightdive Studios for salvaging cut content from the original to appease the fans. But for everyone else – proceed with caution.
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