Some games claim to simply replicate the feel of the classic 8 bit generation systems whilst others embrace all that the era had to offer. Whether this be for better or worse, Cyber Shadow pays homage to the classic 2D ninja platformers, such as Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi. In a neo-dystopian future, Shadow must learn the ancient powers of his clan in order to discover the truth behind the world's synthetic ruin.
Cyber Shadow not only replicates the sights and sounds of classic retro games but it also adopts its limited gameplay controls by using what was on offer at the time. By this, I'm referring to the game limiting its controls to using just the D-pad (or analogue stick, if you'd prefer on modern controllers), B to jump and Y to attack. This means that Cyber Shadow uses all of the buttons featured on the original NES controller (remapped of course to A and B), to the point where if you were to own the wireless NES controllers for Nintendo Switch (or an 8BitDo N30), it'd be like you're reliving the glory days of the 80s (said the 26 year old). In addition, all abilities that you acquire later on are implemented with care so that they continue to use the same two buttons, as well as keeping it intuitive for the player. The only button that the game uses that the NES controller doesn't have is the R button which is used to sprint, but you can also simply press the directional button twice - that works, too.
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Checkpoints allow you to spend your hard earned currency on restorations to health and SP as they won't occur automatically when you reach one. You can also purchase a fighter drone that will fight alongside you temporarily, which are great during boss fights. This then brings me to the game's Amiibo functionality (there's something I haven't said in quite a while). I only own the Shovel Knight Amiibo where you can call upon the titular knight to fight alongside you in lieu of the drone. It's a clever little nod but it doesn't help the game's case to make a name for itself.
World / Level Design
Some of these levels may appeal to those who are gluttons for punishment. Certain checkpoints seem way too far away from each other and when in between these bouts are instant death pits and flying projectiles which cause exorbitant knockback, it'll simply make the player remember how hard these 2D 8 bit games actually were. I consider myself a compitent gamer who isn't opposed to a bit of difficulty but due to the exceedingly long length between some checkpoints, the game felt arbitrarily stretched out when I found myself replaying the same frustrating segments ten times in a row.
Cyber Shadow is by no means a Metroidvania and yet, it does borrow some backtracking elements. As you venture through the first few chapters, you'll notice strange blocks and odd placements of objects and will likely think to yourself, "what am I supposed to do here?". You'll grit your teeth and concede defeat, carrying on throughout the level until you realise that an upgrade further on allows you to go back and solve the puzzle. It's never a must so players who simply want to carry on with the story can disregard it but for completionists and those with burning curiosities, it's a satisfying accomplishment.
Story / Personality
The plot presents many twists and turns that'll keep the player invested; however, I never felt that the dialogue was particularly engaging. Cyber Shadow's choppy pacing and stale characters puts a dampener on its presentation which is arguably its primary selling point.
With all that being said, the world that has been created within Cyber Shadow is something to admire. It captures the post-apocalyptic future/technologically advanced society motif wonderfully and simultaneously paints a drab yet bright picture of a civilisation gone awry.
Graphics / Art Direction
Being published by Yacht Club Games, you can make graphical comparisons to the critically acclaimed Shovel Knight within mere seconds of booting up Cyber Shadow. Some platforms and walls use identical assets but I wish to highlight how this is not, by any means, a bad thing. Shovel Knight is praised for its modern recreation of the 8 bit aesthetic and Cyber Shadow expands on its foundations, seamlessly innovating on it with its neo sci-fi motif.
Cyber Shadow even goes so far as to implement optional CRT filters which provide waves of retro nostalgia. It's a neat little effect and while it may be heartwarming for those who grew up with leg warmers, mullets and Sony walkmans, nothing can beat the crisp HD visuals of modern screens.
Music / Sound Design
Just like Shovel Knight, the chiptune soundtrack is heaven to one's ears. It brings forth even more nostalgic waves whilst making it its own with a darker undertone.
In regards to the sound effects, you can instantly tell that Yacht Club Games also had a hand in this department. The recognisable crashes, the shing of weapons and the quick jingles that occur upon simple actions all scream Shovel Knight and whilst it may not fit the game's tone at times, it still brings back fond memories, nonetheless.
Final Score: 76%
Cyber Shadow certainly makes a name for itself under the Yacht Club Games moniker, but it doesn't quite live up to the hype. Its 8 bit influences come out in full force and will be nostalgic to those who grew up in the 80s/90s, but it could've done the game service if it left some of those traits in the past. While it doesn't quite live up to the perhaps unrealistic expectations that fans may have, it's still a wild ride if you're a glutton for punishment.
Thank you for checking out our Cyber Shadow Switch review, thank you to Yacht Club Games for the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backersfor their ongoing support:
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