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This episode is a Retro Wildlands like exploration of one of my favourite, extremely dark games. This episode contains some pretty grisly descriptions of some of the darkest areas of the game. This means that the episode is not for the ears of the innocent or those triggered by descriptions of horror and gore.
As such, please listen responsibly.
From active timer battling to zombie slaying, Waffling Taylors covers video games and beyond. And this episode will see us going quite far into the beyond - the great beyond, that is.
This episode of the Waffling Taylors was inspired by the Retro Wildlands podcast. I’m a big fan of Nomad’s show, and think that you would be too - so go give it a listen (there’s a link in the show notes). And if you haven’t heard it yet, we had him on the show not too long back - here’s a link to that.
This episode is going to be another monologue from me (Jay), but don’t worry, Squidge is still very much here. In fact, he edited this episode (as he does with every episode) and I can prove it:
So why is it just me this week? Firstly, Squidge is down with illness, but he’ll be back very soon. I’ve also been wanting to tackle one of my favourite games in long form for a long time, and that game is Shadow Man. I discovered the Retro Wildlands podcast shortly after Nomad had released episode three (which was about Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past) and loved it from the off.
I decided that Nomad’s format would fit a monologue about Shadow Man perfectly, but I’ve no idea whether he will be interested in covering this game so I thought I would do it myself.
Nomad, I’m more than happy for you to do a way better job that I have on this game
I actually love Shadow Man so much that I that I’ve written about it twice for our blog (and there will be links in the show notes):
But before we get started with the episode proper, I want to issue a warning: Because we’re going to touch on some of the content in one of the darkest video games I’ve ever played, I ask that you please consider skipping this episode if you are easily offended, can be triggered by descriptions of violence or horror, or are listening with those who have innocent ears.
I’m not going to cover some of the worst parts of the game’s themes and story in this episode, but we’ll certainly be dancing around them a little.
If you choose to continue onward, I’ll have Squidge put this sound: ALERT! before and after any of the particularly grisly descriptions that I’ve decided to include in this monologue. I’ll also warn you in advance and aim to give a “skip ahead x seconds to get around this bit” style of warning.
I ask that you please listen to this episode responsibly.
So what is Shadow Man?
Aside from the spooky meme of a shadowy person who haunts people’s sleep, near-sleep, and hallucinations, it is also a game which came out in 1998 - originally for the N64. It was then ported to the PlayStation, PC and Dreamcast (in that order) in 1999; making it a game for both the 5th and 6th generations of video game consoles.
It was developed by Acclaim Studios Teeside, a UK-based arm of Acclaim based in Teeside (in the North of England), and is based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name.
One thing to note is that the character of Shadow Man in the game is very different to the original Valiant Comics run of the character. However, after the game came out, Acclaim bought Valiant Comics and started putting out stories based on the video game version of the Shadow Man character.
I’m greatly reducing the history and importance of the original Shadow Man character here so definitely go read up on him after listening to this episode.
If it was ported to three different formats back in the day, then which was the best one? It’s my opinion that the Dreamcast version is the best. Mostly because it was the most powerful home console that the game was ported to. Because it was the last of the ports, the developers could put the most effort into the audio-visual quality of the game - combining the massive areas of the N64 version, and the high-quality skins and music from the PC version. However, because it was originally an N64 game which was ported to the Dreamcast, the controls are really quite bad - but we’ll talk about that in a moment.
When Acclaim went belly up in 2004, the rights to the game were left in a sort of limbo. But in 2013, Nightdive announced that they had bought the rights and put the PC version up on GoG. This version came with a large number of quality-of-life improvements and bug fixes, and some extras that were never included in the original PC release - this included things like a downloadable version of the soundtrack and a scanned strategy guide.
A few years later, Nightdive announced that they were working on a “remaster” of the game using their Kex engine. This would allow players to play the game on modern hardware, using a more modern control scheme, in HD, and experience previously cut content. The remaster was released in 2021, and as recently as November 2022 more previously cut content has been added to the new release - including newly restored enemies, cut scenes, and a newly restored weapon or two.
Shortly after releasing the remaster, the 2013 PC release was removed from sale on GoG. So if you didn’t get it then, you’re not likely to be able to pick it up now.
Whilst there are differences between the initially released versions (N64, PlayStation, PC, and Dreamcast), the differences aren’t as pronounced as the many different versions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The differences between those initial ports of the game are mostly cosmetic (because of the relative power of the hardware in each home console); however, the PlayStation version is arguably the weakest. Not only does it have the lowest graphical quality, but the load times are a little longer and one or two areas have been either cut out or greatly reduced in order to run on Sony’s little grey box that could.
That isn’t to say that the game itself isn’t a fantastic achievement. Once an area is loaded into memory, you can then move about in these massive areas with no loading screens - just like with Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. This is something you can see very clearly if you play the remaster with the debugging tools enabled - you can literally see the different sections of the loaded area streaming in from memory.
First Experiences With It
My first experience with Shadow Man was on the Dreamcast.
As I said earlier, the original N64 version was released in 1998 and had a BBFC rating of 15. For those who don’t know, in the UK there are two types of content ratings for video games:
What the BBFC are is out of scope for this episode, but essentially they provide legally enforceable age ratings (based on content) for all Film and TV here in the UK.
Until PEGI was created in 2003, most video games in the UK either didn’t require a rating or were rated by the BBFC; and being rated by the BBFC was entirely voluntary for video games - but is required for TV shows and movies). Between 2003 and 2012, both BBFC and PEGI ratings could be used (with BBFC ratings being required, if a game was certified as 15 or above), and the PEGI rating was optional during this time.
As of 2012, PEGI ratings are now legally enforceable for games rated 12. Until 2012, the PEGI ratings were more of a suggestion than an enforceable rating (at least in the UK). It is and has always been, a criminal offence for a retailer to knowingly sell a PEGI 12 or BBFC 15 or 18-rated video game to someone who is underage.
As I was 12 years old when I bought this game, it was very illegal for the store I bought it from to have sold me it. However, it would have to be proven that the salesperson knew that I was 12 at the time.
Content rating aside, the version of the game that I picked up was the German language disc in a UK retail box. You see, PAL releases of Dreamcast games came in these thick jewel cases because the manuals for the games were often printed in the big five European languages - English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Just how I ended up with a German language disc in a UK retail box, I have no idea. Either way, as soon as I realised (shortly after starting the first cut scene) I took it straight back to the shop and they swapped it out for an English language version.
After that, it was plain sailing… except for how grisly and dark the game actually was. Seeing as my first exposure to the game was on the Dreamcast, it was at the highest possible graphical fidelity of the time. But it wasn’t without its problems - the music, for one, would suddenly come blasting out of my TV’s speakers forcing me to mute the game whilst I disabled said music. This is a pretty well-known bug specific to the Dreamcast version of the game, and I don’t think that I encountered it in any of the other versions of it.
The controls were also more than a little difficult to get my hands around back then. It was originally an N64 game, and the controls had not been mapped wonderfully.
You used the analogue stick to move the main character (Michael LeRoi) using tank-eqsue controls, but with an over-the-shoulder style camera - think Resident Evil 4. But this meant that, unless you turned around, back peddling from enemies whilst under attack was often hard to do - especially since Mike’s backward walk was exceptionally slow. The D-pad was used to access the free aim (using up) and the inventory screen (down). Holding the Left trigger button and using the d-pad would allow you to manipulate the camera, and the face buttons (A, B, X, and Y) where your main actions buttons:
A acted as Mike’s right-hand
items could be equipped here and used, such as Mike’s gun
pressing this button would fire whatever weapon he had equipped in that hand
B was the action button
anything in the world that Mike could interact with was interacted with using this button
X acted as Mike’s left-hand
similar to A, except that it would only use the item in the left hand
Y was the jump button
Using both A and X for attacks, meant that if you were dual-wielding and in a firefight you had to use two fingers to fire Mike’s weapons. This led to some weird ways for me to hold the controller, as you still had to have a good enough grip on the controller in order to use the analogue stick to move Mike around.
Holding the L trigger would allow Mike to lock on to enemies and strafe around them as he fought them. And the R trigger, by itself, would cause Mike to duck or roll, if he was running.
I remember really digging the non-linear nature of the game. You’re free to enter any area that you can find, in whatever order you want, as long as you have the Shadow Power (more on that in a moment) to unlock it. This makes it a MetroidVania of sorts, especially since you’re actively encouraged to go back to previously cleared areas with new skills and magical maguffins - more on that in a moment, too.
I definitely should not have been playing this game as an impressionable 12-year-old. But just like all the other games I shouldn’t have played as a child - from the first Resident Evil and the unreleased Thrill Kill on the PlayStation to Alien vs Predator on the Atari Jaguar, and so on - this game had a lasting impression on me. In fact, it’s one that I return to a lot; I play through it almost every year.
the day before I recorded the audio for this episode, I re-completed the remastered version of the game and found some of the restored content that I’ll mention later
First 20 Minutes
So we pop the disc into the Dreamcast (because that’s the version I’ll be playing for the next few minutes), and are greeted with the friendly spiral logo and near-constant grinding sound of the optical drive working away.
Eventually, we get to the main menu. But not after a super dramatic voice tells us about who and what the Shadow Man is: he’s some sort of immortal voodoo warrior. If he’s immortal, then I can’t die in the game?! Fantastic. It’s like Untitled Goose Game all over again. I can’t lose.
Anyway, we start a new game and we’re greeted by the Moonlight Sonata and we’re in the sewers. But not just any sewers, these are Victorian-era London sewers. Talk about yuck.
See, there’s this fella Jack who lives down there and is talking about all these ‘orrible murders that he committed
He’s Jack the Ripper, and he’s lamenting killing a number of women. His lament would have perfectly fit in early 2000s emo song
Oh I killed them, yes it’s true
But I did it to find their souls
oh ee oh ee oh
Just as he’s about to do himself in, some dude appears at the doorway. He’s a dapper gent, with a walking cane and everything. Think of the way that Sting describes himself in the song Englishman in New York…. except that he’s a little more, well demon-y. He’s got a goatee (a sure sign of evil for all ’90s video game characters), and he has the worst case of gingivitis I’ve ever seen; I mean, dude is constantly bleeding from the mouth. He introduces himself with:
I am Legion, for we are many.
He does some David Blaine nonsense and summons a glowing apostrophe in the air.
This, he says, is a Dark Soul. He tells Jack that, because he’s an architect (as well as a murdering so-and-so), that he should off himself, head over to the other side, and build a cathedral to pain there.
Jack decides to kill himself anyway, and the scene ends with Legion saying
Amen to that.
Next thing we know, we’re at a bar in Louisiana called The Wild At Heart - except that since this is a game from the ’90s, we don’t get told that in-game, you’ve gotta read the manual. Our main character, Michael LeRoi, and his main squeeze, Nettie the voodoo priestess, are in bed. There’s no chance for rudery (yet) since they’re actually sleeping
although Nettie’s eyes are wide open_
Legion and five serial killers are haunting Nettie’s dreams, so she gets up for an exposition dump. Which is kind of like a midnight wee, but with way more story and better lighting. She tells Mike that he’ll need to read a file
I didn’t sign on to play a horror game to have to sit and read. What is this, the 1980s?!
Once he has done that, he should meet at her church. When I first played this bit, I was like, “Lady, we’re here right now. Why not tell me what the fliming flaming heckity doodle is going on right now?” But no, this is a video game so we have to have some kind of player involvement.
But don’t get too excited, as we’ve got one more cutscene left. Mike is making his way through the Louisana swap on a boat, talking to himself about how bad his life is. “Oh waahh! I’m imortal!” Then again, his Mum, Dad, and kid brother are dead, so maybe I shouldn’t be making fun.
Anyway, he jumps off of his boat and we’re finally in control of our titular hero Michael “Shadow Man” LeRoi.
This first section of the game is designed to get you used to the controls. There’s standard 3D platforming: run, jump, fall, swear at the controller because you totally pushed the jump button at the right time but because of the goddamn lag and RNG Mike fell down a tiny drop and you’ll have to run back and do it again, shimmying over ropes, climbing over stuff, weird egg-shaped things that have a heartbeat, friendly doggos that both bark and change their skin, chittering storks, crocodiles, and a weirdly dry-docked boat. It’s all here, folks. Visit historic Nowhere, Louisiana today!
Once we’ve managed to tumble our way to the church
and it would be a heck of a commute on a Sunday morning. Tough mudders only, please
we meet up with Nettie again, ready for another exposition dump and a mild jump scare. It seems that Mike’s kid brother’s teddy bear can be used to transport Mike over to Deadside
The place where everyone goes when they die, without exception.
but the first time he grabs the teddy bear, he hears his kid brother screaming and his face flashes on-screen. Because what’s a 90’s horror video game without a bull$h!t jump scare as our first real scare?
Nettie also tells us about the weird egg things. They are Govi, and they each contain a Dark Soul. No, not the From Software title, they are this game’s version of experience points. It’s Mike’s mission to figure out how to open these Govi before Legion does, collect them all and use their power to take down Legion.
Collect the Macguffins, and beat the boss. Got it.
Nettie tells us to use the bear and
Get your ass to Mars!
er… no. Deadside.
… aaaaaaand we’re in a pool of blood. By passing over to Deadside, we land in a literal pool of blood up to Mike’s knees. After wading through the blood, dispatching some zombies and hearing them cry out in agony as they explode in a cloud of blood, guts, and iron bru, we get to Jaunty. He’s a nice enough chap and has yet another exposition dump for us.
Oh, and he’s a snake…. kind of. He has the body of a snake, a human skull for a head, and wears a top hat. Also, he speaks with an Irish accent and has very quirky mannerisms
because ’90s comic relief character design, that’s why
Once we’re done with him, we start to make our way through Deadside’s great gates (a massive big cage that only Jaunty has the power to open)
does that make him the Deadside equivalent of Saint Peter?
and we reach
THE PROPHECY CHAMBER!
Here we’ll receive the prophecy that Nettie keeps banging on about. We’ll have to do more reading, too. But because I’m nice and value your time, here’s the tl;dr of the prophecy:
Legion recruit five
Witch bring Shadow Man
Shadow Man find Dark Soul
Shadow Man bring Dark Soul to Legion
Legion kill Shadow Man, take Dark Soul
Legion take over world
Legion happy as potat
Thoughts on The Game
Shadow Man has been described as a Metroidvania-like title; mainly because the basic game loop is:
Run into an area
Kill all of the baddies
Collect as many dark souls as you can find
Grab the magical maguffin
Find the next area or loop back to early areas and use the new magical maguffin to reach new parts of the area
The Dark Souls are how Mike/Shadow Man levels up. In universe, no one else has ever been able to make use of the power of the dark souls, because they have never been able to open the Govi they are sealed in; but Mike can. As you collect more of them - there are 120 of them throughout the game - Mike will grow in power and be able to unlock areas of Deadside. The Govi take the place of a traditional RPG levelling system: the more of them you get, the stronger your Shadow Powers will be. 120 dark souls equates to 10 levels of power.
and when you get all 120, you can unlock an area with an inventory item which has tonnes of behind-the-scenes stuff in it
The game’s driving force - the prophecy - talks of Legion collecting the Dark Souls, “lowering a darkness over the world”, and invading Liveside with the armies of the dead. It’s your job as Shadow Man to stop this from happening… or it is?
Dun. Dun. Dunnnnnnnnn!
Technically, Shadow Man is immortal. But he can “die”. When all of his health has depleted, he will be returned to the starting point of an area and will have to re-traverse that whole area - with one exception, but we’ll go into that in a moment. When he respawns in an area, all of the enemies that he has killed will remain dead; but if you transport to the area (using the Teddy Bear), the enemies will respawn. And you’ll be using the Teddy Bear to jump from place to place a lot, as one of the selling points of this game is that it has a non-linear path.
You can save the game wherever you are. There are checkpoints, but these take the form of entry points to an area - you’ll land here when you warp in using the Teddy Bear. in the original releases of the game, regardless of where you save, you’ll either be planted at the Teddy Bear location (if you’ve found it) or at the start of that area when you load your game. However, the save files for the Remaster include your exact location when you save.
The one exception to the death loop in this game is when you’re taking on Legion at the end. But I’ll leave it up to you to find out what happens. I would advise that you save your game before you fight him, though.
Even though it’s a non-linear game, there are certain gateways which will hinder your progress until you’re at a certain level - these are called Shadow Gates. But as long as you’re at a high enough level to bust them open, you’re free to head through them in whatever order you want.
One thing that you will need when playing this game is the pack-in map. All physical versions of the game were sold with a printed map - in universe, this was hand drawn by Maxim St. James (a previous holder of the mask of shadows). It isn’t accurate, but it’s accurate enough to help you navigate the game world.
can you tell that this was based on a comic book yet? There’s some real
Without the map, you’ll find it hard to navigate the game world, find all of the hidden magical macguffins, and get to where you need to go. Luckily, the Nightdive remaster has the map included with the prophecy - which you’ll pick up shortly after meeting Jaunty, and I recommend reading through it. It’s also updated to match some of the newly restored content and unlockables.
Combining its non-linear nature with the context-based hints and tips that Mike’s friends give him when he visits them after achieving certain things or unlocking certain areas, makes this game an immersive title that rewards near-constant exploration and re-exploration of finished areas.
Looking past the initial “blockyness” of the game, there’s a lot on show here. From dynamic lighting
firing Shadow Man’s gun or unlocking the disco mode shows this off in all of it’s glory
to water and blood effects (specifically the many pools of blood throughout the game), incredible (for the time) drawing distances to large expansive areas, with almost no load time across all versions of the game.
There are points in the game where there are multiple visual effects on screen at once - blood splattering everywhere, water effects, fire effects and multiple enemies - and there are very few frames dropped in order to achieve this. There only seems to be a little stuttering when particle effects are used - these are mostly when Shadow Man is using some of his later powers to allow him to swim through lava without taking damage - an amazing feat for the time, considering what’s on show here.
Almost all 3D action games require the main character to have some sort of arsenal, and Shadow Man is no different. When Mike is in Liveside (aka the real world) he has a 9mm handgun of some description
can you tell that I don’t know much about guns?
And he will back that up with some kind of semi-automatic machine gun and a sawed-off shotgun - if and when you find them, that is.
And when you are in Deadside, there are a tonne of “voodoo” weapons to pick up, from a shield to a flaming skull on a stick, to the jawbone of an ass and a sword that shoots wavy fire at your enemies, and to a fully automatic chain gun which can be wielded in one hand
there are actually two of these to be found throughout the game for both completionists, and people who want to literally eviscerate the enemies in this game
But the only weapon you’ll actually ever need is the Shadow Gun. This is the 9mm handgun that Mike wields in Liveside, but with a design that was clearly inspired by every Metal album cover ever made, and a Salt Bae-like sprinkle of HR Giger for good measure.
It’s a standard handgun design, but the barrel is a rib cage leading to an open skull at the business end, and it shoots balls of energy which gain greater power along with Shadow Man’s level
so make sure that you pick up those Govi, kids
The Shadow Gun is the only way to deal mighty and final death to most of the boss characters in the game - including the five serial killers, and some creatures called the Trueforms - without it, you’ll be lost on your journey. It is also the only weapon which can open the Govi - which raises the question as to why none of the other Shadow Men tried it.
and for that matter, how did the previous Shadow Men die, if they are immortal voodoo warriors? Because 90’s video game design again, I guess
If you use the Shadow Gun to destroy the main enemies in the game, they’ll drop health pickups - which happens after they explode in pain, which itself happens shortly after they have a very violent seizure and cry out.
I told you this game is dark
You can find and pick up the other weapons if you want, but there’s really no point as the Shadow Gun is way overpowered. Every time that I play through the game, I pick up the other weapons but only use them for the puzzles that they solve; I always use the Shadow Gun.
The music for this game requires its own mention because it’s as deeply atmospheric as the lore and the gameplay itself. It is expertly crafted by Tim Haywood, features many multi-layered instruments and is incredibly creepy throughout.
I don’t have the musical knowledge or vocabulary required to discuss the actual musicality on show here; but to my uneducated ears, it is fantastic. In fact, I was listening to one of the many versions of the soundtrack that Haywood has released on his personal BandCamp as I wrote this section of the episode. There’s a link in the show notes if you’re interested in checking it out.
One stand-out piece for me is called “The Playrooms Suite”; it’s deeply creepy and very unsettling, and provides some unspoken background information on the area of the game called Asylum: Playrooms. Skip ahead by 30 seconds (and listen out for the second use of our trigger warning sound effect) if you don’t want to hear why it’s so deeply unsettling - and trust me, it’s very unsettling.
There is an area of the game called Aslyum: Playrooms, and this area was created by Legion to train those who died young to find humour in mutilating people whilst they writhe in pain. As such, the music (which is “Waltz in A flat major, no 15” by Johannes Brahms) is played out over the sound of a chainsaw ripping into flesh, blood spurting everywhere, a baby laughing, and a person crying out in pain.
Really quite creepy, indeed.
Because the soundtrack is so deeply atmospheric and very specific to the game, it’s not one that I listen to often. Mostly because I don’t want to creep people out when they visit my office; but also because I wear bone-conduction headphones when out and about, so listening to the soundtrack with them is a strange experience indeed
for those who don’t know, bone-conduction headphones work by vibrating against your cheek rather than being placed in your ears. This means that the outside world sounds still filter in, meaning that you have a very personal soundtrack
There are other areas of the game where the included music and background noises provide greater details about the universe of the game without explicitly stating anything in the game. I’ll happily go into more examples on our Discord server
check the show notes for a link
as these pieces are way too dark to talk about in this episode. Suffice it to say that Haywood went to some dark places in order to create the sound space for this game.
Why You Shouldn’t Check This Game Out
Seriously, it is DARK.
There are some things in this game which will definitely upset and offend people. From the audio in the background of the home improvement killer
pro tip: pause the game, drop the volume of the music, and listen in to what’s being said. I WON’T be covering it in this episode
to the stuff I’ve already mentioned and am going to mention towards the end of the episode. Remember that there’s a trigger warning around it for when we get there.
If you don’t like games with a lot of backtracking, non-linear story gameplay and storytelling, and those with almost no guide pointing you in the direction of where to go next: this game is not for you. In short: if you don’t like Metroidvania-style gameplay, don’t pick this game up.
If you don’t like games that are very dark: then this game is not for you.
I’m not trying to be hyperbolic when I say that this game is dark. It’s one of the darkest games I’ve ever played - granted, I don’t intentionally seek out dark games. But the very dark, psychological horror subjects were not lost on me as a pre-teen, and neither was the visceral horror on display here.
Remember: the antagonists in this game build a literal cathedral to pain. They worship and make sacrifices to pain by slaughtering the immortal souls of the dead - those who are doomed to go through that same torture for the rest of eternity, regardless of what life choices they made when they were alive.
I have a feeling that if Nietzsche was somehow catapulted forward 150 years, he would have really enjoyed this game… that is if it were possible for him to enjoy anything at all, ever.
Why You Should Check This Game Out
Sure, it’s incredibly dark. But if you like games with a lot of lore, great writing, fantastic voice acting, amazingly atmospheric music, and dark poetry read to you by the main character as you unlock every area in the game: then this game is for you.
Imagine if Metroid, Tomb Raider, and H. R. Geiger had a baby; that baby would be this game.
If you can deal with the dark themes and content and can remind yourself that it has 90s action game design philosophies running through it, then I’m sure you’ll have a good time.
The Nightdive Release
So technically Nightdive has released this game to PC twice:
back in 2013 when they bought the rights
in 2021 when they created the HD remaster with their Kex engine
as a side note: in my home town "kex" means "underpants"
I played the PC version way before Nightdive got the rights and released it via GoG in 2013. In fact, I still have a physical release of the PC game in storage, and can say that aside from some quality-of-life changes, there wasn’t much of a difference between the 1999 PC release and the 2013 version. But the 2021 release is a whole other ball game.
Not only is it an HD remaster, with upscaled… well, everything, they also managed to restore some of the cut content. This means that not only are there entirely new areas of the game, but also unreleased audio and cutscenes, too. There’s also a whole host of previously unreleased enemies to vanquish - some of which were added to the game as late as November 2022 as a free auto-update.
Is it worth getting the recent release over the original? Heck yes. But don’t discount the original release just because it’s older. Sure, there’s a weird bug with the music sometimes, and the controls on the Dreamcast port were a bit janky - but so was everything else which was ported to it, because most of the ported games weren’t designed with the Dreamcast’s controller in mind. But it’s a game which is definitely worthy your time, if you haven’t played it yet.
Just be ready for the dark themes of this game.
Wasn’t There A Sequel?
There was. It was called Shadow Man: 2econd Coming, and we don’t talk about it. It’s dreadful.
Not only does this game have incredible graphics for the time, but the music is also amazing. The story and lore are incredibly detailed, to the point where you unlock even more lore once you’ve finished the game. The winding, hypnotic, non-linear story progression and constant feedback from your support characters give this title near infinite replayability as there’s invariably going to be a cutscene that you haven’t unlocked in your first playthrough, but which will give you even more lore for the universe of the game.
For those reasons, and a bunch of others I won’t go into lest this episode become several hours long, I really think that everyone with a strong disposition should check this game out. It’s available for pretty much all of the current-gen consoles; and if you can track down a copy of the Dreamcast port (and a DC to play it on), you’ll have a great time.
One word of warning: Nigthdive put a bunch of the cut content back into the game for the remaster. This includes some very dark stuff, including - and I’ll leave a trigger warning here, skip ahead by 30 seconds if you are easily offended or are listening with those who have innocent ears:
Hidden, because it's pretty grisly. Click to reveal
A dead, naked woman, in the middle of giving birth, with the featus partially birthed, preserved as a specimen in the darkest area of the game. An area which is filled with furnaces that are literally burning people to a crisp whilst they are conscious.
Now that that particular bit of horridness is out of the way, let’s have a few seconds of lovely, uplifting music. Take it away, Squidge.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on Shadow Man and why I think some of you should check it out.
One last thought: we all have video games that we can play on auto-pilot, and this incredibly dark game is one such game for me. I can play it from start to finish, getting the good ending (spoiler alert: there’s a bad ending, too) without any of the incredibly dark content phasing me at all.
I wonder what that says about me, actually.
What did you think to this episode? Should Squidge and I work on other episodes like this? Also, please do check out Nomad’s Retro Wildlands podcast and tell him that we sent you.