Shadow Man Remastered is out now, and the original game came out 22 years ago on the PC, PS1, Sega Dreamcast and the Nintendo 64, the latter of which could utilise the additional ram pack for a higher resolution. Of these releases, PC was the nicest-looking and running, with the Dreamcast version landing a few months after initial release and is impressive for that era of consoles. I remember getting in from work at 1am at the time, and over the course of a few weeks and a few hours a night playing through it, and loved every minute on my N64.
An evil entity named Legion brings Jack the Ripper to Deadside to build an Asylum dedicated to all that is strange and unearthly. Alongside Jack, you have four additional serial killers, each with their own quirks. From here, Legion will amass an army using the dark souls trapped in Govi creating Trueforms, then crossing the veil to liveside and usher in the apocalypse. It is up to Mike LeRoi – the current ShadowMan – to put a stop to the prophecy and take the five killers and Legion down.
Nightdive Studios have taken the PS1 and PC source codes as a base for this remaster. The game is now running on their KEX engine, with high resolution textures, three new areas, high quality sound and revamped controls that can utilise both sticks, rather than just one like the original version.
The Nintendo switch release runs at 1080p docked, and 720p in handheld mode. They have used a dynamic resolution, so if there is a bit too much happening on screen, the resolution will slightly scale back to keep performance at peak. I have to say that I am impressed with the amount of options available, including a field of view slider, being able to turn head-bob off, disable motion blur etc and you can even select using the old textures if you wish. There are plenty options there to tweak the experience to your taste. The accessibility is absolutely fantastic given motion blur and head-bob – two of the main contributors to migraines and nausea in modern gaming.
On top of the upscaled high resolution textures, you also have new lighting a new effects. The lighting now casts various shadows from light sources – as well as your gun projectiles – and looks fantastic. I am pleased to see you can now use the shadow gun as a torch in dark areas, instead of being limited to the flambeau once you find it. The voodoo magic fire effects look absolutely superb, and light up surrounding areas as fireballs etc. travel towards a target. Hitting the ground with the Marteau sends out jets of flame, which home in on enemies and is great for taking down the Trueforms.
There are three new areas in total, which include the experimentation rooms in the asylum, and new areas for two of the serial killers, accessible from the Cathedral of Pain once you find the retractors. In the original game – if my mind serves me right – three of these killers were found in the jail, whilst Jack the Ripper was found in the London underground, and Avery in the dilapidated New York tenement block. All 5 killers now have their own dedicated level which can be explored during the day and night. The 2 new areas are a military camp in a Florida Swamp and a Scrap Yard in the Mojave Desert. Access to the Experimentation Rooms is available via the trolley in the Asylum Gateway (you will notice 2 switches instead of just the 1). Additionally, there is a new Boss fight which has been added to the Temple of Life. Plus, where there used to be a mass on the floor for which you just shot and drop down, you will now find Yort.
It is impressive work John Navarro and Nightdive Studios have done with these new levels. This isn’t a case of them having been created, and then hidden on a disc waiting to be unlocked as payable DLC, or just dropped from the original release: These new levels have been created from the original design documents and then incorporated into this remaster.
Tim Haywood, the creator of the original ShadowMan music, has returned to remaster the score, as well as create new modern sound effects for the shadow gun etc. I have spoken to Tim a few times on Messenger about the sound and his thought process when he created it, originally. Warped and twisted comes to mind, after he told me about the the playroom’s music and background sounds! After chatting with Tim, I have found myself admiring the ambience of the music and effects all the more. Shadow Man Remastered is a visual feast, but the sound being as perfect as it is, really adds to the whole experience. If you love the music, you can get the soundtrack on Spotify & Bandcamp, and Tim has also done Symphony of the Dead using digital instruments, and it is an alternative to the in-game music (Much like Matt Grey has done with The Last Ninja 2: Reformation)
Overall, Shadow Man Remastered is an amazing game which will give you around 25 hours play start to finish. It has gameplay which is similar to the 3D Zelda games, and also a good sprinkling of Metroid thrown in for good measure. You will revisit some of the areas in the game multiple times to collect dark souls, once you have gained new abilities through the gads (Tattoos from the temples which allow touching fire, walking on lava coals and swimming in lava). As you collect the dark souls needed to open the shadow gates and access new areas, these gates also have some of the higher-powered voodoo artefacts needed to access those last few souls hidden away on the levels. You can go after Legion once you reach shadow level 9 with 95 dark souls, but if you want to see what is behind the level 10 gate atop the bloodfall at the very beginning of Deadside, you will need the full 120!
A few minor issues at launch have seen small hitches in the framerate on all consoles, not just the Switch, and I had one crash to my Switch homescreen. There has been a patch released in the last few days, and Nightdive Studios are pro-actively sorting stuff out. Other than that, not having a map can lead to getting lost and running circles round an area looking for the next switch, or an entrance hidden away behind something else – it can occasionally get a bit irksome and frustrating.
On top of what is currently available in the remaster, there will be a new content patch released later this year including new enemies and bosses in different stages of the game.
A big thanks to our friends at Nightdive Studios for supplying us with the review code.
Shadow Man Remastered is out now on Steam, plus the digital stores for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
- Developer: Acclaim Studios Teeside / Nightdive Studios
- Publisher: Nightdive Studios
- Players: Single player
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!