Title Shadow of the Beast (Second Review) Publisher Psygnosis/Reflections, 1989 Game Type General Action Compatibility Not A1200, but WHDload patch available HD Installable Yes (With Patch) Submission William Payne Review Considered by many people to be the game that finally thrust the Amiga ahead of the ST as the must-have games machine of the era, Shadow of the Beast is a graphically awesome game unlike anything that had been seen before it. However when the initial wow-factor waned people began to notice that perhaps the gameplay of this sideways scrolling action-adventure game was a little lacking. But in retrospect its easy to see that gameplay was never the point of Shadow of the beast, or indeed either of its sequels. This game was designed to stop passers-by in the streets as they saw it in Dixon's window, drag their jaws to the pavement then their cash into Commodore's pockets, and it certainly worked. The rolling demo used in shop windows to sell the game (and of course the Amiga itself) interspersed sequences of gameplay with bold proclamations of the colours on screen, megabytes of graphics and multiple segments of in-game music. Tellingly there was no mention of gameplay, plot, puzzles or addictiveness. No-one questioned this (retrospectively glaring) omission. They just gawped some more and handed over their money. In terms of atmosphere, though, the game is flawless. The music is eerie and haunting, and changes tempo to match the change of pace between the different sections of the game. Its also presented in a very non-linear fashion, as it is basically a large world that can be explored in several different ways. There is however only one correct path to take to finish the game, so whether its truly non-linear or merely appears to be is debatable. The design style of the game's graphics is typical of Psygnosis of the time, with artwork strangely reminiscent of 70's rock album covers, and bizarre (and often grotesque) creature designs. After a few plays though, the repetitive nature of the gameplay becomes apparent, and the player finds himself questioning whether or not the lure of getting a little bit further, and seeing more of the pretty graphics, is worth the effort. When you consider the lengthy loading periods required between games, the answer seems to swing towards “no. Perhaps I'm being a little harsh, as its by no means the least playable game in the world, it’s just disappointing when you consider what this game could have been like if as much attention had been paid to the gameplay as to the presentation. Basically it marks the beginning of the style-over-substance era of gameplay that prevailed through the early to mid nineties. There are no significant advances in terms of playability over what was seen on the eight-bit consoles and computers over the previous five or so years. But anyway. The thing that made every school kid at the time want an Amiga was the graphics, and as the prime example of what the Amiga, and its talented and imaginative designers and programmers, could do, Shadow of the Beast deserves to be remembered as one of the most important games released for the system.