Casting Level 8 Resurrection: Shadowgate

I am dragon deprived. This is almost an insta-buy on this alone. Help me.

You can’t keep an old game down, not in this day and age. Kickstarter is our miracle cure, magically reanimating long-dead but fondly-remembered past games and genres. They skip towards us as we squeal in delight, trapped in a group hug between wave upon wave of adventure games and the vast hulks of space-sims. Hark! Another rises, this one gone since before my birth: the ancient golem of Shadowgate, last seen upon these lands in 1987. A bit too old to have had final judgement brought upon it by the juggernauts of RPS, though the slumbering Walker did offer this insight: “Gosh, I must have played it, but don’t remember.” Sound wisdom indeed. See it in its glorious new form below.

While my young eyes see a striking resemblance to Legend of Grimrock, Shadowgate is a straight up point and click adventure game that just happens to be played in the first person. I’m informed it’s stunningly lethal, often unfairly so in that uniquely pre-90s way where you don’t see it coming and can only avoid it by knowing beforehand. Along with the massive visual upgrade and adding more puzzles, difficulty levels are one of the remake’s big changes now that the idea of finishing a game isn’t totally laughable.

I don’t go in for a lot of this nostalgia (the only games released before 2008 worth paying attention to are Brood War and Unreal Tournament 2004), but this has gorgeous art (albeit animated dodgily),  and looks mechanically unique in the modern era. I want to see how game design from nearly 30 years ago has been adapted by its original creators, now with that much more experience under their belts. If you’re the same, or are somehow old enough to remember this from the first time round – probably impossible, I know – it’s out on August 21st on Steam.

22 Comments

  1. hypercrisis says:

    Maybe its the nostalgia goggles, but the original looks better to me. I’m not a fan of their art direction, a bit too flat and generic.

    • XhomeB says:

      I have two problems with the visuals in the remake. The art on display here is absolutely gorgeous (I can’t emphasize that enough), however:
      – the animations are incredibly weak, they consist of a few frames at best and look “cheap” as a result, for the lack of a better word
      – as you have pointed out, the images lack depth. They’re a bit flat, it doesn’t feel like you’re exploring a castle, walking down a corridor. I wish zojoi used a technology similar to what KINGArt are doing (Book of Unwritten Tales 2) to bring some depth to the game screens:
      (youtube)/watch?v=GOa2-6lmvnI&index=12&list=UU_8Ta9YihABH8w40SbwlR1g

      • tomimt says:

        Projection mapping would definetly make the art “pop” even more, but I doubt that’s in the card for this one, as they are gering to release it. But perhaps it would be something they could explore in the sequal, which they have alrady said to be planning to tackle next.

    • aperson4321 says:

      As someone who does some digital painting on a hobby basis I somewhat agree with you.

      The new game got really excellent imagery, but it is in a artsyle that uses very few colours and got a high detail level without much use of light to make the scenery defined. But it is still fantastic.

      And you need to remember that Youtube kills any subtle detail in its videos, youtube is the best at muddy pooridge colours. The actual game probably looks ten times as good if you have a somewhat calibrated computer monitor, (Remember to turn of those computer monitor built in post processing filters, those are heresy in game such as this one. (they tend to be called “game mode”))

  2. Chalk says:

    “I don’t go in for a lot of this nostalgia”

    That’s understandable mate, you’re still only a baby. Nostalgia needs time to mature.

    • derbefrier says:

      Heh I was 6 years old when this game released. I didn’t even know what a PC was yet. Looks interesting though. I might pick it up

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        I was three but I didn’t play it until the late 90’s. I thought it was kind of crap: The time limit torches and instant death when they burn out… and death from pretty much anything (seriously don’t put timers in puzzle games!)

        I liked the NES port of the older Déjà Vu though. It had fewer unexpected deaths but a lot of unbeatable states if you did something wrong, so still a ton of save scumming.

  3. tomimt says:

    I backed this on the KS, despite I had no other recollection of the game than the awesome Nintendo soundtrack. I don’t think I ever managed to play it through.

    After following the development I can say that the looks pretty nice, especially considering the small budget they have. The animations have been the lowest quality of the the whole production, but the art itself and especially the music is top notch. And who knows, maybe they’ll manage to beef up the animations as well.

    Now I only hope that the game itself ends up beeing good.

  4. Janichsan says:

    Why the hell did they use the butt-ugly NES version for comparison and not any of the superior computer versions (Amiga/Atari ST/Macintosh/Windows)??

    • Wowbagger says:

      Ah the Atari ST was amazing; magic pockets, the black lamp, llamatron, Grandad and the quest for the holy vest. I cut my gaming teeth on that machine.

  5. Maxheadroom says:

    Despite playing games since the 70s this one passed my by so I’ve no nostalgic hook. picked it up for the art style alone though (and everything I’ve heard about the original.)

    Missed the boat on Ultima too. They were already on like Ultima III when I got my first PC so never got into it. Really wish i’d played them beck in the day now. Feel like ive missed out

  6. Reapy says:

    This was one of the first games I ever wrote a guide for with my friend. Of course it was for an audience of two, but we had the steps to beat this game start to finish seared in. Unfortunately I hardly remember it now, just the fact that we knew it forward to back back then!

    As others have said it’s not tripping the nostalgia, looks a little flat, and not sure this is a game style that needs to be resurrected too hard.

  7. Maxheadroom says:

    I’m digging the art style and ‘flat’ animation.
    It’s reminiscent of a sort of interactive Choose-your-own-adventure book

  8. montorsi says:

    Quite thrilled to see this remake nearing release. If you ever played Shadowgate on Nintendo, well, let’s just say it’s not a game you ever forget.

  9. Mman says:

    “the only games released before 2008 worth paying attention to are Brood War and Unreal Tournament 2004”

    This is a joke right? Because seriously what the fuck.

    • XhomeB says:

      He must be trolling.
      Of course he’s trolling, come on now…
      Ummm…
      Right? RIGHT?

      • Dariush says:

        Of course he’s trolling. Everyone knows Brood War shouldn’t be on that list.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Yeah, Chuckie Egg was pretty good too I suppose

  10. Commander Gun says:

    “When you grab the pot of gold, the wall suddenly crumbles and you fall down in an endless pit. As you fall to your demise, you realize you just fell for the oldest trick of the book”
    How i love Shadowgate :)

  11. Bitter says:

    Nostalgic gamers might remember Deja Vu or Uninvited, if they don’t remember Shadowgate specifically. Same style of play with unusual inventory management for the time. And definitely better graphics on computers than on the NES. They looked great on a black and white Mac toaster.

  12. geerad says:

    “…the ancient golem of Shadowgate, last seen upon these lands in 1987. A bit too old to have had final judgement brought upon it by the juggernauts of RPS…”
    Hmmm…
    *glances at header*
    “Rock Paper Shotgun: PC Gaming Since 1873.”
    HMMM…

  13. PegasusOrgans says:

    After reading “(the only games released before 2008 worth paying attention to are Brood War and Unreal Tournament 2004)” you have lost all credibility in my eyes.

    I love both the original, and the remake which has a similar yet unique feel, and it brings me the same
    magic I felt playing the original. It is different enough that I can yet be surprised and mystified by it.