Canceling The Apocalypse
Happy Weekend TAY!
And a happy long weekend to my neighbours to the south. I know it is a four day weekend for some of you in the U.S., have fun!
I finished off Shadow Man last week and I’m glad it holds up so incredibly well. It is still some of the best level design ever devised and my brain is exhausted from the workout.
Shadow Man has no navigation system other than a simple fast-travel menu. When you are out in the world, you have no directional indicators, no waypoints, no compass...nothing. There is not even an in-game map. I was struggling (and sometimes failing) to remember all the twists and turns that led to the numerous doors which can only be unlocked once you’ve achieved a specific level.
There is, however, a map for Shadow Man that I had forgotten about until I was halfway through the game and had recollections of the image above. The original boxed versions for the consoles and PC included an old-school paper map. It isn’t a detailed map, but it does include vague locations of the doorways that you need to unlock. It would seem that the digital version I have on Steam doesn’t include this vital material.
Nightdive Studios did include the instruction manual with the digital version of the game, but the missing map seems to be an oversight given how important it is. Thankfully, the internet will provide if you want the map, but there is no indication inside the game as to its existence. You can complete the game without the map, but the memory work is intense and you’ll do a whole lot more backtracking.
I loved the incredibly dense and confusing world of Shadow Man, even more, because I was responsible for all the navigation. Too many games have you chasing indicator arrows or driving by mini-maps to get around their worlds. I feel more connected to the game when I have to remember my own way, but I also have a fairly good sense of direction and enjoy the task. If your internal compass often fails you, then I suspect there is little joy for you in Shadow Man.
It is hard to recommend Shadow Man because of its age and the quirks that come along with that. The combat is a wee bit dull and the single control stick movement takes some time to get comfortable with after years of dual stick controls for third-person shooters. The visuals in Shadow Man are obviously low-fi compared to modern games and there is no surround sound. However, I did enjoy the music which is rare for me as I generally turn off a game’s soundtrack.
In the end, I was won over (again) by Shadow Man’s mind-bending levels and master-class game design that still outdoes most games, even today. I can see why the game impressed me so much 20 years ago.
Now that Shadow Man has been bested, I’ve returned to the world of VR with Resident Evil 7.
RE7 feels jarringly low-res, but I assume I just need to get reacclimated to the world of PSVR again. The game is slower paced than I was expecting and the DualShock controls feel a little archaic after the immersive Move-based controls of Skyrim VR, but RE7's VR mode definitely offers a great claustrophobic atmosphere that I’m grooving on so far. I’ve never really been a big fan of the Resident Evil series, but #7 feels like more of what I want. I’m looking forward to playing more of it this weekend. We are off to a great start, I’ve had two jump-scares already that had me jitterbugging and almost dropping the controller.
So, what are you playing this weekend?