Shadow Of The Beast, the side-scrolling platformer and gory brawler hit the PS4 yesterday which consequently has sparked up a lot of interest. This comes as a remake/re-imagining of the 1989 Amiga classic by the same title (which I personally never played), however Shadow Of The Beast for PS4 comes with a nice emulation of the original Amiga version available to purchase in-game (with game currency). The 1989 version is difficult and unforgiving but a classic and fan favourite nonetheless. Once you finish this latest version for the PS4 definitely go back and experience the game’s roots… or just watch the complete walkthrough they also included, presumably to help those of us who don’t stand a chance of completing the original. On top of this there is also the concept trailer and some really superb concept art (below) available to purchase with the in-game currency you will receive whenever you complete a level.
Compared to the infamously difficult original this one does feel quite watered down; it’s made to be more palatable for the masses. By no means is it an easy game though as normal difficulty mode will still have you seeing many deaths, however when you die you learn from your mistakes and try again (not applicable in the real world). You can play the game with unlimited continues by consuming an ‘innocent soul’ when you die and it keeps a tally of how many times you had to re spawn on that level. If this seems too easy for you then you have the option to only use ‘elixirs’ to re spawn which are not infinite and are gained by doing particularly well in a fight or can be gifted to you by other players. One up from normal is the beast difficulty mode that will test even the seasoned gamer, but if you want another nice shiny platinum trophy in your collection it’s both a welcome and a necessary challenge.
Now for the combat which is without a doubt the game’s strongest selling point. It’s fast, smooth, and ferocious with some awesome animations. Even in the thick of combat Shadow Of The Beast holds a steady 60fps, that being said though I have seen brief frame rate drops in certain cinematic events although it’s nothing major and in no way hinders your enjoyment of the game. Combat generally comes up as an encounter with a portal on either side of the screen and enemies coming from both of them simultaneously. You have to be fast and efficient to slice through the waves of enemies and build up combos without getting hit for maximum points. Once you get a nice flow going the fighting becomes swift and methodical with you easily slicing someone in half and beheading 2 others in a second. On top of the standard attack, block and counter there are special moves that earn you more points, restore health etc. Finally in combat are the… ultimate abilities for lack of a better word, you have the rage chain which costs blood (used to perform all special moves) and sees you tear through waves of enemies with ease provided you hit the button prompts on-screen in time. Then there are the literal Shadows Of The Beast where you summon two shadow projections of the protagonist Aarbron to fight by your side, finally you can conjure spikes up out of the ground to wipe out all enemies on-screen. All abilities are purchasable and upgradeable in game.
In many games when you are in the middle of a kill animation on a foe, usually no one else can touch you, in Shadow Of The Beast that is not the case. If you’re to slow and get sandwiched between the 2 waves you may very well die. I have seen quite a few complaints about this on forums, threads and what not but this is an integral game mechanic, if you’re too slow you get overrun, simple.
Shadow Of The Beast isn’t all fighting though, the game includes some nice puzzles that I won’t spoil for anyone but they include the likes of portals and shadow manipulation and give a nice break from the over bearing combat occasionally. One thing that increases your likelihood to replay the game but also may seem a little frustrating is that when you first play you don’t have a clue what anyway is saying, although the storyline is easy to follow there isn’t any dialogue. You can buy subtitles but they cost 2,000,000 mana (the in-game currency) which takes 2, sometimes 3 levels to earn. Even then the 2,000,000 only buys you the subtitles for one race when in the game there are 5 total races. I imagine a majority of people won’t just run through the game once and never touch it again though so perhaps the developers have included these kinds of things in the store to improve re playability. The concept art is my personal favourite addition and you should definitely check it out.
In conclusion Shadow Of The Beast features the smooth combat every gamer can appreciate, combined with a gorgeous art style and a cool silent protagonist, it’s hard not to like. If you’re there for a challenge you’ve got the beast difficulty and if you just want to enjoy the art and the puzzles you can play it on easy. The only thing you should be wary of is the length, one play through takes about 4 hours however if you want to get 100% completion it will take considerably longer. At £11.99 on the PS Store it’s definitely worth checking out.
Disclaimer: This review was conducted using a retail code bought at the expense of the reviewer. This does not influence the content nor the final score of the review. For more information, read our Review Policy.