Shadow of the Beast, Amiga

Shadow of the Beast is a side-scrolling action game developed by Reflections and published by Psygnosis in 1989. When the game first came out it was praised for its graphics, but not for its gameplay, which is frankly paper thin.

You control ‘Aarbron‘, a character who is trying to defeat the evil beast lord Maletoth for killing his father, and must run and jump his way through various inter-connected scrolling levels, punching and kicking through enemies as they appear.

Shadow of the Beast has had too much focus given to the game’s visual style (which is Roger Dean-influenced, and he also did the cover art), and not enough to the gameplay. Even the beat ’em up elements in Shadow of the Beast are relatively weak as far as they go.

Exploring is at least interesting. At the start of the game you can go left or right. My initial instinct was to go right, which I did – not realising that I could go left as well, which led to me finding a tree with the word “Home” written above it. There are various places you find with a big red “IN” flashing over them, indicating that they can be entered. Going inside might lead to a locked door (requiring a key), or an area that is too dark to see, so the idea is to find the key, or find some light so you can see, and return to those doors.

Progress on puzzles in Shadow of the Beast can be frustrating, although the game does connect important locations with scrolling beat ’em up sections, so you’ll spend most of your time punching and kicking, rather than thinking. Occasionally you’ll find potions that increase your strength, and of course you’ll have some boss battles to win. Working out how to actually damage some bosses can be a riddle in itself.

In my humble opinion Shadow of the Beast is a somewhat overrated game, but is still not bad to play. I’m not a fan of David Whittaker‘s pan-pipe-based soundtrack, though. There’s something about it that makes my skin crawl and my ears bleed…

Two sequels followed: Shadow of the Beast II in 1990, and Shadow of the Beast III in 1992.

More: Shadow of the Beast on Wikipedia
More: Shadow of the Beast on YouTube

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