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Heavy Spectrum’s Shadow of the Beast is a homage to the 1989 Amiga cult classic with the same name. Much love and time went into creating this remake, but how much love will this remake receive?
Shadow of the Beast PS4 is a retelling of the original cult classic on Amiga computers. The original, by Reflections Interactive and Psygnosis was praised for its breath taking graphics and brilliant score by David Whittaker. The game was soon ported to several other home consoles and that’s when I came into contact with the original. The first time I played the game it was on the SEGA Mega Drive when I was just a small obnoxious child. I loved the game and I’d play it for hours and hours straight – not as much as I played Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. That’s why I was excited when in 2013 Heavy Spectrum announced the remake. I’m a sucker for remasters and remakes. I have this urge to relive some of my most favorite games and experience the games I neglected as a little boy.
Three years went by and the game has finally been released. I didn’t follow the whole development process of the game – mostly because of other bigger games -, but I knew the game was one I wanted to play as soon as it came out. I did. I wish I didn’t.
Shadow of the Beast PS4 isn’t the beast I was familiar with. Understandable since we’re now in a completely different age of gaming. We’ve seen a multitude of remasters and remakes the past few years and some of us are sick of them. Companies, big and small, all have to make a profit and it’s understandable that changes needed to be made to reach out to a broader audience when a classic game comes to modern consoles. The game retells the story of Aarbron and his quest for vengeance. He was abducted as a child and turned into a beast. A beast that serves Lord Maletoth. His human memories resurface when he unwillingly and unknowingly executes his father. He swears revenge on all who have done him wrong.
The first thing you’ll notice when playing the game is the freaking lengthy loading screens. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s waiting. The whole game feels slow, Aarbron surely isn’t in a hurry to get his vengeance. The game’s combat and movement feels like there’s an unlimited amount of bullet time that slows-down the game with 20%. It’s hard to time attacks and prevent the enemy from hurting you. Yes the animations are brutal and stylish, but they’ll put you in harm’s way and are slow as hell. These are just the normal attacks that we’re speaking of, the special attacks Aarbron can use are even slower and more frustrating. The characters movement and the platforming segments of the game are even worse. When you want Aarbron to jump he doesn’t. It’s so slowed-down that it feels like Aarbron leaves the ground when he wants and not when you need him to. This makes clearing some of the game’s platforming segments and puzzles a frustrating and time consuming job, it just doesn’t feels like you’re having fun. However, the game has its own unique look and at times can be gorgeous. It also comes with a decent soundtrack, but not as good and ahead of its time as the original.
Aarbron’s tale is a bit short and underwhelming. At least it is if you don’t seek out the secret chapters to the story. If you do seek out these hidden secrets you will get a surprisingly decent tale. These secrets can be found in the few levels the game has to offer and in order to get every hidden secret you might need to revisit some of these levels. You can finish the game in under 3 ½ hours, which is pretty short. However, keep in mind that there’s always the option to best your own score and collecting the hidden secrets will force you to replay some of the game’s levels. Luckily, experiencing the pain and agony of the game wasn’t a complete waste. The game has a sweet bonus, the 1989 original is packed in with the remake.
Shadow of the Beast is a painful reminder that it’s not always needed to remake or remaster a game. I’ve seen many good remakes and remasters of old games, the games I loved when I was young. Unfortunately, this remake isn’t one of them. The original was great, but by releasing this remake Heavy Spectrum has unwillingly destroyed all the fond memories I had of the original. Still, some parts of the game were enjoyable and they’ve offered a stylish and brutal two-dimensional brawler that’s a homage to a cult classic. It’s clear that Heavy Spectrum has created the game with much love, but failed to live up to the amazing game I played on the SEGA Mega Drive.