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Shadow of the Beast? If you live in North America, you’re forgiven if the title doesn’t strike a chord. Launched on the Commodore Amiga in 1989, Shadow of the Beast was a hit in Europe, but made a relatively small splash on the other side of the Atlantic. That puts this new PS4-exclusive reimagining of Shadow of the Beast in a bit of a tough position. The game needs to live up to the expectations of die hard fans, but also has to stand on its own for the many who never played the original.
Does Shadow of the Beast pull off this tricky balancing act? Or is this remake a mere shadow of the original? Let’s find out…
Shadow Of The Beast (PS4)
As in the 1989 game, you play as Aarbron, a fearsome beast tasked with doing the bloody business of a cadre of dark mages. After being sent to abduct a baby, Aarbron suddenly recalls he too was kidnapped as a child and transformed into an instrument of death. He’s a tad irked about that, so he sets out on a quest across a trippy sci-fi landscape to get revenge against the bad magic men that wronged him.
Shadow of the Beast uses few words to tells its story, and you won’t understand the handful it does employ. You actually have to unlock the ability to understand the game’s various languages, which may sound like an odd choice, but it works here. Sure, the game is occasionally confusing, but the world of Shadow of the Beast is supposed to be strange and enigmatic. Sometimes knowing less is more.
This game has a real prog rock album cover thing going on.
Shadow of the Beast is no technical wonder, but its visuals, inspired by legendary sci-fi artist Roger Dean, are polished and varied. Shimmering dunes, massive rock spires, mysterious towers, noxious swamps and shadowy nether realms await, and they’re filled with all manner of strange creatures. Tentacled robot walkers, translucent insect queens, floating eyeballs, towering hydras (and the list goes on).
These 1970s album cover visuals are set to a suitably epic, otherworldly soundtrack. I actually like the synth-heavy tunes of the original game a little better, but the new orchestral music is almost as good. And hey, you can actually play the new game with the old music if you want! Shadow of the Beast does a fine job of bringing its unique world into the 20th century.