Cyber Shadow’s obvious source of inspiration is Ninja Gaiden. Just like in that classic, hordes of murderous robots and masses of brightly colored bullets are fired at the player. For the cybernetic ninja Shadow, who just woke up from an artificial coma, this also takes some getting used to. It is Shadows umpteenth problem. His master has disappeared, his clan has been completely wiped out, and the city has been taken over by metal monsters.
Only Shadow’s sword and a growing arsenal of skills can turn the tide. The ten levels in total consist of lots of moving platforms, enemies and bottomless pits. Patience is one of the most important qualities of every ninja. Anyone who wants to race through each level will be punished mercilessly. Projectiles smash Shadow to the side and pointed spears immediately end his life.
The bosses also throw a spanner in the works. These towering pixel monsters are built to take out Shadow, but luckily they all have a predictable fixed pattern of attacks. The first few tries may seem impossible to beat, but a little practice and a little cheating will make all the difference.
As it is possible to check the checkpoints in the levels with an upgrade. Precious points picked up in the levels can be exchanged at these safe havens for temporary upgrades. That way, every time Shadow dies, you start at the same point with fully replenished health, stamina for special attacks and a handy gadget. Difficult parts of the game are therefore a bit easier to make because checkpoints – once activated – continue to deliver bonuses.
Over the Edge
Cyber Shadow never gets really easy. Bosses can be done well with the help of the improved checkpoints, but especially the levels themselves remain difficult. At the very last half of the game, the pieces between the save points get longer and longer. There are also more and more obstacles that result in immediate death. That feels a bit too often a bit bland. Cyber Shadow is at its best when you hack your way through the levels with ninja-like precision. When you can no longer see where to go due to the deadly projectiles and bouncing enemies around, the fun goes away pretty quickly.
New skills waiting for Shadow at the end of each level make the game a bit easier in theory. A double jump or a downward attack immediately feels crucial. The game doesn’t get any less difficult, because every new level also opens a window of new dangers.
Cyber Shadow never gets really easy. Bosses can be done well with the help of the improved checkpoints, but especially the levels themselves remain difficult.
Bad to parry
All the special techniques have their function in the game, but none of them turn out as bad as the possibility to parry bullets. While plenty of buttons are left unused on the controller, bullets can only be bounced back by tapping twice in the direction of the projectile. It’s easier said than done in the heat of battle. This makes it all more complicated than is actually necessary.
Going back to previous levels to master new skills in a familiar place is therefore not a bad idea. Cyber Shadow has a world map that is available after every few checkpoints. This will bring the ninja to an older level in a flash. It’s never necessary or mandatory, but if you search old locations well, you can find some health or stamina upgrades.
The last pair levels of Cyber Shadow feel like some kind of attrition anyway. It’s never impossible and the final boss is manageable compared to the previous levels, yet the fun is expertly sucked away. Cyber Shadow is simply very well put together, but with all those great skills ultimately knows nothing better than just conjuring more enemies on the screen. The game is meritorious, but it is certainly not a modern 8-bit classic.
Cyber Shadow is available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch and Xbox Game Pass.