Journey again between Liveside and Deadside
If you grew up around the turn of the century, then you will have fond memories of Shadow Man. 1999 was a year defined by the launch of the Sega Dreamcast and memorable titles like Pokemon Stadium, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Silent Hill, and Star Wars Episode I: Racer. Then there were the titles while not as memorable but still helped define the video game landscape of that year.
Shadow Man was one such game that was a product of its time and left an impression on those who played it. I should know, I was one gamer who got to enjoy it one weekend with friends. However, those childhood memories are of the N64 version of the game.
While the game was praised, that was just the N64, Dreamcast, and PC versions. The PlayStation version was unfortunately met with mixed to poor reviews. While Shadow Man: Remastered is a nostalgic treat for gamers who played it back in the day, the PS4 version feels more like a chance of redemption. It’s to make amends to the PlayStation fans it disappointed. So get ready to game like it’s 1999 all over again.
Welcome to Deadside
Before I get into the story and gameplay, be aware that this is a product of its time. If you grew up in the late 90’s / early 2000’s, all of this will take you down memory lane of those good ole days. For those who missed out on this era of pop-culture, I’ll admit it will feel anywhere between cheesy and edgy tone.
Players take on the role of Michael LeRoi (the titular Shadow Man) a voodoo warrior who protects the world of the living (known as Liveside) from threats crossing over from the world of the dead (known as Deadside). When it’s discovered that Legion is plotting to unleash the end of days, LeRoi must venture into Deadside and claim the dark souls so that he can battle Legion and his minions in the world of the living.
From a narrative perspective, Shadow Man: Remastered was not that impressive as it drew too much from other works of pop culture at the time. It’s clear games like DOOM and Hexen had a heavy influence on the story. However, it uses them as a foundation to create its own narrative direction. Gameplay is your standard action-adventure of the time with third-person combat and the ability to use a variety of moves to traverse the world. The style of both your combat and the world will be based on the world the moment takes place at (you will rotate between Deadside and Liveside).
A Corrupted Soul
Be aware that my past experience with the original game was on the N64, so I can’t compare it to the PlayStation version. However, even I will admit that the N64 controls were hard to work with even back in the day. This is why Shadow Man: Remastered is already an improvement with a better control setup and function that are more responsive to the player’s actions. It’s the same classic game from 1999 but it has undergone some major visual improvements that add a level of detail to the world while keeping its original aesthetics.
Kudos to Nightdive Studios for doing all they can to polish this forgotten classic. There is only so much one team could do to remaster a title that was released in the last year of the 20th century. Many of the problems come down to the game having not aged well in some regards such as some gameplay elements and level designs. This is not something I expected to be fixed but its presence can’t be ignored (no matter how strong your nostalgia goggles are).
Heads up to those who are going to play Shadow Man: Remastered, the controls may feel janky but this is not a real issue. That is because the problem can be resolved. Just go to the settings and adjust the speed of the directional pads. This will make all the difference based on ones preference.
Be the Shadow Man
If you played the original back in the day, then you will want to pick up Shadow Man: Remastered. This is not to say only old-school fans will enjoy it, gamers who enjoy retro titles should also give it a chance. It’s not one of those classics everyone talks about but it has its charm and presents a window into the culture of the era.
Shadow Man: Remastered is a more polished version of a cult classic that is a treat for fans of the original and retro titles. The PlayStation 4 version is also redemption for the shortcomings of the PS1 version. Overall; it’s a reminder of the many underlooked titles that help define that era of video games.
Disclaimer: UberStrategist provided the game used in this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
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