Have you ever seen a screenshot or a trailer for a video game and in that instant know that it would be something for you? Before you got your hands on it, before you let it’s melodies swim into your ear canal, before you feel the moments of triumph, and the moments of anguish. There’s just something there that speaks to you– Cyber Shadow was that for me.
When it was initially teased by Yacht Club Games— the developers of Shovel Knight and publisher for Cyber Shadow— my interest was already piqued. Knowing the caliber of authenticity and perfection that Yacht Club possesses and illustrates so wonderfully with their Shovel Knight series, I knew that Cyber Shadow had to be special. It was. I ended up playing it three times during PAX East, twice by myself and once with the game’s creator Aarne “MekaSkull” Hunziker.
In Cyber Shadow you take control of the hero Shadow on a journey to save Mekacity from the synthetic lifeforms that have overcome and brought the city devastation. Slashing your way through an action platformer that at first glance, gives the allusion that it’s from an era of the past, but in reality the aesthetic of Cyber Shadow conceals modern game design and impeccable controls giving me the hope that it will dwell in the pantheon of pixel perfect platformers with other legendary games of both past and present.
While playing Cyber Shadow I couldn’t help but be dazzled by the delicious design of not only the art and music, but the gameplay itself. When Aarne had said that his favorite console was the NES and started naming off some of his favorite games on the platform it became abundantly clear in his work that this was true, because Cyber Shadow captures so perfectly the essence of the best NES-era platformers. Not only does Aarne nurture ideas, refine design elements, and tighten mechanics from relics of the past, but he does all of this while retaining an identity for Cyber Shadow all its own while paying homage and rivaling the best hallmarks of the genre.
The PAX East demo was two levels from different points in the early stages of the game. Both showcasing some of the types of upgrades you’ll be acquiring throughout your journey as well as a variety of enemies and bosses. During my time with the demo, I was able to witness the level of difficulty that Cyber Shadow will inflict on the player. Though it did prove to be punishing, patience and precise movements will get you far on Shadow’s perilous path to save his ninja clan. I didn’t feel as though the difficulty spiked or that it had an imbalance, just that it requires skill.
Aside from the visuals and masterful mechanics, the soundtrack for Cyber Shadow is seemingly full of bangers. Being composed by Enrique Martin and produced by Jake Kaufman, the talent behind the boards is making my foot tap just envisioning what other memorable music will be laced within each level of Cyber Shadow.
Easily one of my most anticipated games coming in the future, Cyber Shadow is poised to make my personal list of favorite games of all time if the demo at PAX East is any inclination of the ninja adventure on the horizon. The passion that Aarne Hunziker has for his magnum opus is an energy that was illuminating from the screen while I had the controller in my hand. I’ll be eagerly awaiting any opportunities to get my hands on Cyber Shadow again, but ultimately I just want to see that icon on my Switch home screen sooner rather than later.
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