Hands-On Preview
"Nostalgic old salts can reminisce and enjoy a new challenge while newcomers can experience a classic with modern furnishings."

Many a twenty- and thirty-somethings recall sitting mouth agape at a TV as a child absorbing the creepy tunes and atmosphere of the Nintendo's Shadowgate. Twenty-five years later, co-creators Karl Roelofs and Dave Marsh have come together to re-create the point-and-click classic. I recently had the chance to explore, collect, die, meander, cast spells, die, light a torch, occasionally eat something, and die with a preview build of the upcoming release.

This is Shadowgate as we remember it. Or is it as we remember it? I can't recall, it's been so long. Some dragons spewed fire, and I think I dropped an orb in some water. Yes, this is definitely Shadowgate, but it didn't quite look like this. I don't believe I had all of these items, either. What about this talking skull named Yorick? Okay, the Nintendo version definitely didn't have all of these cutscenes.

Put simply, what I've experienced is a unique adventure that borrows lightly from its ancestor. Some parts are heavily lifted from the "old version," but even then not everything is quite the same. The layout is certainly not the same, but at the same time it feels quite familiar. A few puzzles are solved identically to the former, but there are twists sometimes. Nostalgic old salts can reminisce and enjoy a new challenge while newcomers can experience a classic with modern furnishings. Roelofs and Marsh seemed to endeavor to blend old and new, and did so ably.

Similarly, the atmosphere is truly "Shadowgate." Those who've experienced the Nintendo classic likely remember bright rooms with creepy music. The visuals of the original were probably due to the limitations of the Nintendo while simultaneously trying to construct a user-friendly interface. Here, Zojoi has the opportunity to face-lift the visuals while maintaining the eerie music. For those longing for a more nostalgic adventure, retro sounds, music, and even transitions between screens can be activated through the options menu.

Unlike the classic, the current Shadowgate features a backpack wherein players can open up the inventory. A map is included to prevent getting lost as every action is crucial, not only to the earning of achievements, but also to the player's livelihood. As fans might recall, keeping a torch lit is also critical to one's survival. In addition, players may befall a curse that gradually withers away at the soul, forecasting impending doom. This prevents players from lazily resting in their chairs as they experience a sense of urgency despite the turn-based nature of the game.

Shadowgate can be experienced in full in a couple weeks. Fans of the classic have every reason to return to the hollowed halls of Shadowgate. Newcomers can educate themselves about how adventure gaming got started and enjoy the experience, as well. If you venture into Shadowgate, make sure you tell the Reaper I said hi. He should know me by name now.

© 2014 Reverb Triple XP, Zojoi. All rights reserved.

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