If there are two things commonly found in retro games, it's robots and ninjas. Having one game throw the two archetypes together just makes sense, right? Cyber Shadow manages it rather well. Developed by Mechanical Head Studios and published by Yacht Club Games, this is a side-scrolling action platformer about saving a futuristic city from a synthetic army. Inspired by classic 8-bit titles like Mega Man, Shadow of the Ninja, and Ninja Gaiden, this modern take is a stylish, challenging experience.
Playing as the titular Shadow — the sole survivor of his ninja clan — you start off with little health and basic jump and slash abilities. Of course, things don't stay that simple for long; as you progress through each stage, you'll unlock more and more powers that enhance your robot-destroying talents, as well as upgrades to health and SP (needed for certain moves). It's classic game design, but it works: get through a level, beat the boss, earn an upgrade. Abilities like ninja stars, summoning fire, and deflecting projectiles add up steadily, keeping things fresh for most of the game.
You'll need all the help you can get, too, because the level of difficulty keeps up with you all the way. This is a pretty challenging game, and it doesn't really let up. However, we'd say that the balance is about right, save for one or two boss fights that will take a good few attempts. Occasionally, segments of levels can be particularly tricky, and checkpoints are often quite far apart, which can become a little frustrating. The truth is, you always have enough to make it through, but the game tests your skill pretty much the whole way.
This might sound obvious, but you'll also need to actually make use of all your abilities to move forward. While you can brute force through some enemies with regular katana slashes, you're often required to use secondary powers, giving all your unlocked powers purpose. This is true of bosses, too, where the right strategy — instead of just spamming your regular attack — will win the battle. Very rarely, some abilities can be a little tricky to pull off; we found dashing with a double tap of left or right would misfire every now and then, resulting in the occasional unearned death. However, controls are mostly as responsive as you'd expect.
Alongside the gameplay runs a simple but interesting story. We won't go into too much detail, but Shadow's origins are explored alongside the main conflict, and it's just enough to keep you interested. There are some great moments we won't spoil here.
As you progress, you'll come across between-level checkpoints where you can hop to any previous stage. This is because you simply won't find everything on your first trek through a segment. If you want to find all the health upgrades and other secrets, you'll need to come back later with more abilities. As well as filling out the game with more to see and do, this lets you blitz through earlier levels as a far more capable ninja, which is always a good feeling.
We've been playing it on PlayStation 5, and of course, performance is a rock solid 60 frames-per-second throughout and loading is instantaneous, and that's almost certainly the case on PS4 too. In fact, if you have a compatible display, the PS5 version will run at 120 frames-per-second, making it an even smoother experience.
Cyber Shadow isn't afraid to just be what it is: an unapologetic, retro-inspired action game. Steady upgrades mean you'll be introduced to new mechanics for most of the adventure, keeping things interesting all the way. An old-school challenge awaits, and while it's mostly a fair fight, checkpoints can be a little far apart, and some bosses might stop you in your tracks. Still, if you're looking for a rock solid side-scroller, this is absolutely worth your time.
Not what I would call stylish, but really seems to scratch that retro-itch then.
Cool, how long do you reckon it is?
I preordered it for the discount. Like the art style overall, just hope it looks nice in motion on a 55 inch screen.
Are there lives? Any punishment for death besides resetting to checkpoint?
I loved Shovel Knight and the aesthetics are definitely giving me Metroid vibes. I'll probably check this out in the future but this is a backlog game for now
Definitely checking this out on Game Pass. Also a good way of testing out the new dpad on the new Xbox controller.
I always preferred the PS4 controller dpad, so please don't rush at me with torches and pitchforks just yet!!
Sounds good! The Cons are inherent to the game genre so not worried at all. First-day release on Game Pass too so I'm a happy bunny.
Gameplay looks good, but too bad about the art style same generic 8 bit that people love for their nostalgia except people that didn’t grew up during that era like myself
@kyleforrester87 It's actually quite lengthy! Not sure on exact figure but my save is north of 12 hours I believe.
@everynowandben No lives, no penalties for death other than resetting to last checkpoint. They're a little too far apart, in my opinion, but you get as many goes as you like.
I'll be checking this out on gamepass 3rd comment about gamepass oops thanks for the review
@kyleforrester87 it's 7-8 hours according to IGN.
This looks cool, nice review! I recently picked up Ghostrunner on a whim, might play this in tandem with that just to get an old school/new school angle to both run throughs. Should be fun!
@Jimmer-jammer I absolutely loved Ghostrunner on PS4 Pro. Will play again when the PS5 upgrade drops.
@Voltan I know nothing about it and haven’t really heard anything but just thought it looked really cool. Thanks for that! Even if I don’t like it, I at least know that I didn’t buy a complete turd.
They're still making SNES games - awesome
@JapaneseSonic It’s usually tied to the genre. For example, Ninja games are hard, and require discipline and training. Mario games tend to be easier due to the appeal of the character. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts will make you want to cry
NINJA APPROVED NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR TRAINING
I’ll give the review a better read after I play the game to avoid spoiling, but man this looks good. Stylish indeed. I got covid a few weeks ago and I had this stupid, lingering thought that I had better survive it to be able to play this game LOL
After 3 weeks of still being sick, I’m still here, but man this sucks. Don’t even know how I got it ‘cause I’m extra reclusive. Must be the grocery store.
NINJA APPROVED AND WEAR YOUR MASKS
I have this pre-ordered. The 3 hour speed run trophy and passing the game without getting any HP/MP upgrades sound super tough now. Oh well, make my thumbs bleed!
I hope you recover soon and with no long-hauler symptoms!
@BloodNinja I though Ninjas were resistant to covid?!
Hope your get well soon.
@JapaneseSonic Oh I definitely approve! And it's funny how subject difficulty can be sometimes. Shadow of the Ninja felt like my "black belt test" of ninja gaming LOL
@ShaiHulud I need to train harder
@Mathieu_B Thank you! I'm wearing a mask for everyone's protection
I'll be picking this one up tomorrow once it comes out. Sounds like it's exactly what I hoped it would be. First new game of 2021 here I come
Any connection between this and the Messenger?
I'm on the fence with this one. I'm all for this type of gameplay, but the NES graphics/music just feels archaic to me now and brings me less joy. I've been playing Valfaris the last couple weeks, and there's an example of a game that plays like an oldschool shooter/platformer, but has much more modern looking pixel visuals, and also modern music that's not a midi track. I dunno... What were we talking about?
Already have it on pc gamepass but I like playing games on console and there's 25% launch discount on psn, I think I'll play this on my ps.
Edit: Just bought it on psn 😃
@hi_drnick Other than they both have ninjas, no connection (I very much like both of them, though!)
Damn, this game is great so far, actually lot more difficuilt than it looks!
Played a bit this morning, it's good and the small flying enemies make me rage just a little bit.
@Ear_wiG Valfaris is superb, I loved everything about it. Still annoyed at Nintendolife awarding it a 6/10,a joke review. Although it was reviewed by Dom so itt's not really surprising that I don't agree with the score. He gave one of the worst games I've ever played a 9/10.
@BloodNinja Sorry to hear that man hope you get well soon. Treat yourself to a cool ninja game while you self-isolate.
@OorWullie what game was that? Not to be a cliche Sony fanboy on Pushsquare but they do seem very generous with their scores for the most part on Nintendolife.
Just cleared the first four levels which were quite enjoyable. Nothing remarkable but very decent. Bit on the easy side so far but I suspect that might change later on!
Lol even the first level kicked my ass toward the end. Been a while since I’ve played a platformer like this. Determined to see it to the end!
It looks and sounds great though. Screen shots don’t do it justice!
@Kanji-Tatsumi Thank you!!!
@OorWullie I can't wait to see what Steel Mantis does next; there are clearly some super talented people working there.
You played through Slain yet? I bought it in the sale, definitely going in with limited hype based on reviews, but excited to give it a whirl.
@JapaneseSonic same here. These style indies almost universally crank the split second timing requirement up to 11. It's overdone.
@Kanji-Tatsumi The name of the game is Valfaris. It's a 2D run and gun, kind of like Turrican and Contra. The pixel art is amazing and combined with modern lighting and particle effects, it's a really good looking game. It's a lot of fun too, plays smooth as can be and is enjoyable from beginning to end. You get crazy powerful in it.
Nintendolife are at times overly generous but for the kind of games I like, their scores generally align with my own. It's just certain reviewers, Dom particularly. I don't think I've agreed with any of his reviews haha.
@Ear_wiG Yeah, they're a talented developer for sure. I have played Slain, I haven't completed it but I got quite far into it. I first played it before Valfaris, and really enjoyed it and thought it was a lot better than many made it out to be. It can be frustrating though and is quite stiff to play. Especially going back to it after playing Valfaris.
I can't wait to see what they come up with next, as Valfaris took the Slain formula to the next level. Slain 2 would be great as I prefer the gothic theme.
I bought this day one! I absolutely loved this game. It was simple but challenging. I hope they make a sequel. Tons of fun!
Tap here to load 39 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...