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Reviews for the Lazy Gamer: Shadowgate

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Game: Shadowgate

Platform: PC, Mac, iOS, Android

Publisher/Developer: Zojoi

Genre: Point and Click

Describe This Game in Three Words: It is Beuatiful

Score: 7 out of 10

Synopsis: You are a young warrior charged by the wizard Lakmir to enter the living castle Shadowgate in order to stop an evil sorcerer who hopes to raise a behemoth from Hell to help him rule the world. Except now you have a sarcastic skull as your helper guide.

Up, Up: There is no game on Earth I have been calling for a remake of more than Shadowgate. It's both one of my all-time favorite NES titles and one of the most frustrating to play. Finally it gets a makeover.

The graphics are stunning and lovingly done. No more one color eyes in the dark to make you think "dragon". Now the beast is fully rendered and ready to toast you. All the old favorite are present, and also a few new ones such as the kraken in the lake as opposed to the old sharks that would once eat you.

The music is also amazingly perfect, and it makes me hope Zojoi will tackle The 7th Guest next just to hear that score re-done with such quality. Overall, it's one of the prettiest games you could ever want to see, and still manages to capture all the same old morbid magic from the old days.

Down, Down: Unfortunately, that prettiest comes at a cost. First off, the mist effect used throughout the game does a terrible job of obscuring items in the rooms. I would often have to leave and come back to allow the graphic to reset in order to make out the scroll in the block of ice that you need to free with a lit torch. More often than not, important bits of scenery are a little too well rendered in with the background, and you will spend hours wandering around looking for your next clue.

Considering how famously maddening some of the puzzles were in the original and continue to be in the remake, that seems like it makes the game needlessly frustrating in places. Add that to the almost criminally unhelpful skull guide that gives you hints and Shadowgate becomes more chore than challenge after a while.

Left, Right, Left, Right: It's point and click, which is what it says it is. However, I think the game missed a very big trick in not assigning the various commands to keyboard letters. Seriously, clicking "use," then the item, then the target was always a bad set-up, and with modern technology there's no excuse for keeping it around. This was a feature of the original that needed changing.

B, A: The game has lost none of its sense of humor. All the deaths and some more besides are present, and the jokes have been updated. When's the last time you saw a Stuart Saves His Family reference in a video game? No matter how dank and scary the atmosphere is, Shadowgate never lets an opportunity to lighten the mood go by.

Start?: Shadowgate is not everything I hoped for. There's no getting around that. The graphic update was a slightly mixed blessing and the sluggish nature of exploring the castle was not tweaked much. Beyond that it's still beautiful and offers a fairly unique type of gaming that has never been done as well. It's good to play it again.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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