As someone who grew up playing NES, I love a good old ninja action game and Cyber Shadow offers some old-timey katana-slashing fun.
Cyber Shadow has you play as the titular Shadow as you slash your way through the now-ruined Mekacity on a quest to uncover the source of the world's takeover by artificial life forms. Running around as Shadow while you slash at all kinds of robotic enemies, work past tricky scenarios, and take down massive bosses is a blast. Plus, the intuitive controls that basically have you tap the attack and jump buttons as you guide Shadow through the stages make playing it easy yet it's definitely tough to master. With that being said, there is no lives system so failure doesn't feel as punishing as it did in the 8-bit days because you can simply keep plugging away from the previous checkpoint with no substantial setbacks. Heck, you even keep any permanent upgrades that you may have collected along the way.
Cyber Shadow may be one of those games that looks and feels like it belongs in the '80s or early '90s but it also does an excellent job of providing plenty of visual flair and catchy tunes that make playing it a treat for the eyes and ears. On a similar note, I'd say that Cyber Shadow's strongest aspect is its level designs which are full of clever situations, a wide variety of enemy types, and gorgeously detailed backgrounds. As you progress, you'll unlock additional core abilities that make the gameplay all the more fulfilling such as the ability to throw shurikens, summon fire, perform an airstrike, wall-slide, parry, dash, and charge. So, you'll go from a very basic ninja game to one where you'll consistently deploy cool new moves in order to emerge unscathed from challenging confrontations and tricky scenarios.
Some of Shadow's abilities require SP to use and as you explore the intricate stages while looking for secrets, you'll be able to extend your SP gauge as well as increase your maximum health which is extremely satisfying. This is especially true when you discover secret areas that require you to survive long and grueling stretches in order to acquire an upgrade. On top of this, there's a cool system with checkpoints where you can spend currency to allow a checkpoint to refill your HP and SP as well as provide a power-up such as a katana extender. Some may feel as if their katanas are long enough already but you could always use a few more inches.
Of course, Cyber Shadow isn't a perfect game even though I did have a great deal of fun with it. My main complaint by far is that its gameplay may be intuitive and tight but the controls are also rather stiff in certain regards. For example, turning around to face the other direction can be difficult when you're confronting enemies from both sides because you can't turn around mid-attack so you may think you turned Shadow around only to realise that he's still facing the same direction then take an accidental hit. Speaking of accidental, there are tons of surprise (and frankly, unfair) deaths throughout that mostly come from untelegraphed and unpredictable attacks such as the laser at the end of my gameplay video below. Finally, there's also a bit too much retro baggage such as frustrating knockback after you get hit which may push you down to an instant death trap. I guess it's authentically retro but that's not always a good thing.
Cyber Shadow is definitely a genuine old-school experience which mostly works in its favour although it can be a frustrating test of patience at times. No matter which way you slice it, if you enjoy old-school 2D action games, playing Cyber Shadow is a must.
- + Tight and intuitive retro gameplay with a solid amount of challenge and variety
- + Fantastic music and visuals
- + Secrets are fun to discover
- - Controls can be quite stiff and will likely require a lot of getting used to
- - A bit too many surprise deaths
- - Has some substantial retro baggage