PAX West 2019: Take on a Difficult Retro Challenge in Cyber Shadow

If Cyber Shadow looks like a modern approach on Ninja Gaiden, it’d be easy to see how that assumption would be made. This title is in the works by Mechanical Head Studios, where they’re hard at work making a fantastical futuristic adventure with somewhat nostalgic combat in an 8-bit setting. This title started to get a lot of attention after joining up with Yacht Club Games to publish the title and has since been on the radar of many more players looking for a return to retro-style gameplay.

Cyber Shadow features a bleak future where the world has been overrun by synthetic lifeforms. A lone ninja by the name of Shadow is out to rescue his clan from their clutches and will need to use all his skills in order to get through the dark wasteland of Mekacity. Although he only starts out with his blade at his side, Shadow continues along with his sight set on trying to bring them back using his strength to stop those who would stand in his way.

The general gameplay is classic NES-style levels. Shadow makes his way across various platforms with enemies coming his way who he must slice down as they get near. It’s a mix of platforming and strategy, without some of the more unfair elements found in early NES titles. The movement feels fantastic, with jumps and attacks being quickly responsive and no stiffness to any navigation. While it increases in difficulty, there’s a nice sense that any fault is on the player and not the game being intentionally cruel. There’s also forgiving checkpoints throughout the stages, allowing players to continue midway instead of from the beginning after a death. Stages also have large bosses at the end of them, and the two available to fight were both unique and had multiple different ways to take them down in addition to varying up their attacks.

Along his journey, Shadow is able to collect coins from their destroyed bodies and various treasure around the area. At various checkpoints these coins can be exchanged for new temporary weapons to help him. Although it’s unclear if these are random or pre-determined weapons, each one is unique in how it functions and makes for some cool different ways to mix up combat. There are also special attacks that Shadow will gain throughout the stages which will offer him different attacks if he has the energy to pull them off. One in particular was a long-range shuriken that can help with enemies that are too far or higher up in the air, while another was an uppercut that covers his blade in flames to slice through enemies.

It’s always interesting to see when titles take a step back and try to recreate the magic of some of the classic 8-bit games using modern software. It usually leads to a fantastic outcome, and Cyber Shadow seems to be following suit so far with engaging combat and a simple yet interesting story that will further unfold. It may just scratch that itch players are looking for after other titles like The Messenger tried to grasp that Ninja Gaiden feel, but with an entirely different way of going about it. While there’s no release date yet for Cyber Shadow at this time, it’s one that’s well worth following for its eventual release on PS4, Switch, Xbox One and PC.