Out of all the classic franchises to get a reboot for next gen, Shadow of the Beast is certainly a strange choice. Shadow of the Beast was a classic little side scrolling series for systems ranging from the Atari ST the the Sega Genesis which faded into obscurity a long, long time ago. The Genesis version was one of my earliest memories I have of playing a game so I was excited to finally check it out. For context, here is creator Matt Birch’s E3 2015 live coverage.
The upcoming Shadow of the Beast is a PS4 exclusive being developed by Heavy Spectrum Entertainment Labs. After the reboot of the series was announced at Gamescom 2013, there has been very little news since and only a small e3 gameplay demo showed off at E3 2015. I finally got a chance to get hands on a very early build at EGX 2015 on Thursday.
First impressions are fairly positive despite only getting to play a small slice of the game. the combat feels relatively robust. I’m not really into brawlers or beat-em-up games as i’m normally turned off by how basic the combat is. I’m glad to say that the Shadow of the Beast combat is fluid and dynamic enough to keep me playing on. You have three or so main attacks that, even in its early stages differs depending on the context of the attack sort of similar to a 2D version of the typical Arkham style combat.
The setting is sadly far more drab than the original series bright contrasting colours, ridiculous enemy design and wonderfully creepy chiptune soundtrack. This has now been replaced with a far more typical grungy desert landscape seen in the trailer. Whilst this is certainly not a plus for me, with the game so early in development and only having played such a small amount of the game, I cant really pass judgement on the games design as a whole. For comparison here is a short video of the Mega Drive version (The gameplay footage belongs to YouTube user odraconiandevil79).
I would keep a look out for this game. Something about Shadow of the Beast that grabbed me and it wasn’t just the nostalgia I felt for the series. While the game seems to have lost a bit of the camp over the top design that drew me to the the Genesis version, the gameplay seems solid enough to at least be worth a try if there is ever a demo released.