Shadow Man Remastered: A Rich, Mysterious World to Become Lost In

There’s no sense in pretending that Shadow Man isn’t an outmoded experience. This game, which was initially released for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, PC, and Dreamcast, makes us question the usefulness of the term “dated” when used in video games. The real question is, “What does it mean?” A change in standards, perhaps.

Conflicting goals for today’s video game entertainment. But, seriously, is it fair to compare a re-released game like Shadow Man against more polished, recent titles? There’s no reason why a re-release of an old game shouldn’t be updated to fit the current era. It’s important to remember these things even though Shadow Man Remastered doesn’t have the answers to any of them.

Some people won’t even bother trying to understand the game because of how complicated it is. Your aims are rarely evident in terms of a specific A-to-B structure, there’s no map feature to speak of and you’ll find your hand fairly adamantly unheld throughout.

If you assume control of Mike LeRoi (the Shadow Man himself), you’ll find that your exploration of Deadside is a protracted ordeal that features a wide variety of obstacles and is designed to be baffling.

The initial version of the game was comparable to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but the inputs have been changed, the “tank” controls have been removed, and the game now plays more like a regular third-person shooter, albeit one with a lot more platforming and exploration than typical. Think Ratchet & Clank, but significantly more challenging.

Believe us, you’ll become lost in its universe. That’s true both in the literal and figurative senses. While Shadow Man Remastered’s atmosphere is excellent, the game’s massive size, winding paths, and lack of direction will turn off many players. This is a highly cleaned-up, enhanced, better-controlling version of the far more esoteric original game.

Shadow Man Remastered
Shadow Man Remastered

As a bonus, Nightdive Studios has added back in a tonne of content that had been deleted from the game’s original design docs, including new stages, boss fights, and music (from the original composer, Tim Haywood). For fans, this is the definitive method to appreciate Shadow Man. This is arguably the finest opportunity for first-timers to give it a try.

Does this mean that Shadow Man is bad? No, certainly not. But, and this cannot be emphasized enough, they certainly do not produce games like this any longer, and there is a very good reason for this.

The medium has moved on from this kind of deliberately maze-like environment, from this kind of enforced, extensive backtracking, from thrusting the player into situations they actively cannot solve without progressing further elsewhere in the game (and with no indication or hints given that this is the case) (and with no indication or hints given that this is the case). It’s going to drive some folks insane.

It’s an odd conundrum that, while it’s tough to recommend Shadow Man Remastered to people who haven’t played the game before, this is the only method we’d suggest they give a try. It’s a top-notch port with lots of new and improved features, including content, aesthetics, customization options, and framerate (it locks at 60fps with barely a few hiccups).

There’s no denying that Shadow Man isn’t a masterpiece, but those who can get beyond its dated mechanics and structural oddities, they’ll find a lot to like. Our best bet is that many people will have the perseverance to do so.