Review by KFHEWUI
"Shadowgate is a great point-and-click game that requires patience"
The land was once ruled by a council of sorcerers, and one of the members began practicing the black arts. Remaining sorcerers imprisoned the wizard beneath Castle Shadowgate, and there he would rest until many centuries later. A group of dwarves accidentally released the wizard from his prison, and he immediately took over Castle Shadowgate, and he focused his attention on summoning the Behemoth. Now a single hero that is descended from the ancient line of kings is all that can stop the wizard and his diabolical plans.
Starting up a new game starts up an upbeat and mysterious tune that sets up the mood of the game, and there are several track over the course of the game. Each tune fits the mood from the slow mysterious tune that plays during a dark cave.
The screen is broken up into three boxes, and the top two are used for view of the room (left box) and items (right box) while the bottom box has a list of commands from take, move, open, save, etc. Also on the left side of the bottom box is a grey square with usually one or two dots, and these dots represent the doors that are in the room.
Shadowgate looks great, and each room has a distinct look from the laboratory that has shelves full with beakers and bottles or to the crypt room which is lined with coffins. Each room feels different from the other, and it is very easy to get around the castle and not get lost.
Controls are solid, and the layout is good. The D-Pad moves the cursor while "A" is used for select and "B" for cancelling. Sometimes hitting start or select will give the player a clue about the room they are in if they are stump.
The game start off outside the castle with the front door locked, and using open on the skull will cause it to rise revealing a key that unlocks the front door. This is one of the easier puzzles in Shadowgate, and for the most, the puzzles are not too difficult to figure out with some thought process. Some of the puzzles can be far-fetched like having to play a flute to reveal a hidden part of a tree that holds a marble or having to use a gauntlet to grab a flute from a water fountain.
At the top of the item box are two torches, and only one is lit at the beginning of the game. These torches are vital, and they must stay lit at all times. Failure to keeping them lit means instant death, and the music does speed up to let the player know that flames are dying. When the player dies, there is a nice screen with Death then a screen comes up that allows the player to choose continue, and when the player continues, the game usually starts the player off in the previous room of the room that they died in so there is not a lot of lost progress.
Shadowgate does not hold the player's hand, and there is a lot of trial and error involved. Due to this there are numerous and unique ways for the player to die from being impaled by glass, sucked into another dimension, or jumping out a window.
The length of the game comes from the trial and error game play, and with that said Shadowgate does not take too long to replay. It can easily be beaten in thirty minutes however the first playthrough will take maybe an hour or two depending on much the puzzles stump the player, and this is one area where I feel the game hurts the most. There is no replay value other than beating the game again. While each play through is pretty much the same only one part of the game is different in each playthrough which is the riddle the sphinx gives.
Shadowgate is a great albeit short game that requires brains over might.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/26/12
Game Release: Shadowgate (1987) (US, 12/31/89)
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