Cyber Shadow Review (Xbox Series X|S)

Cyber Shadow review

Nowadays, there is always a feeling of discrepancy between modern retro games and their original sources of inspiration. Old games are always rumored to be the best and most creative creations ever conceived, but when you actually sit down and try see what was all the rage about, you will find a great difficulty in enjoying them, particularly because of the hardware limitations at the time, and that’s why games like Cyber Shadow has to exist.

This game does its best to recapture what we actually loved about the NES era. The muted 8-bit color palette, the synthesized chiptunes, and the touch as hell gameplay, all is there and every bit of it carries a ton of weight and charm to older fans. At the same time, its not an entirety derivative game, nor overly ambitious, its somewhat in between, but everything contained within it, from the level design, to the aesthetics and the difficulty are made with an exemplary near-perfect effort, that captures the “true potential” of what NES games should have become back then, and not how they actually were.

Cyber Shadow is now available for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S (Tested), Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. The game is also immediately playable for for all Xbox Game Pass Subscribers on console and pc.

Cyber Shadow Review


In Japanese language, the characters of “ninja” are written in this way ” 忍者 “. ” 忍 “means “endure” and “者” is “man”, so in short, ninja means someone who can endure a lot. Moreover, the kanji ” 忍 ” can be separated into these two kanjis. They are ” 刃 ” and ” 心 “. The meaning of ” 刃 ” is “edge”, similarly ” 心 ” is “heart “. There is an edge on one’s heart. It indicates the abandonment of one’s individual emotions and self interest for the sake of the whole and the greater good.

In a historical era when betrayal was a common thing, ninjas where needed to enforce the rules of discipline, especially the relationship between masters and students and how to preserve the community as whole. Their missions were harsh and life threatening, and many of them died for the sake of their convictions, but not forgotten, as without them, the fabric of society itself would be in grave danger.

Cyber Shadow

The purpose of this prologue is to elaborate on Cyber shadow’s main themes, which includes direct betrayal from the father of the master of the ninja clan, which happens to be a woman and the romantic interest of the protagonist. This does not end nicely however, as the ruins of a futuristic metropolis loom in the background, and robots dominate the remnants of MekaCity. Moreover, many members of your clan are between life in death in the form of robotic shells and you have to earn their spiritual freedom for them.

On your journey through the night, you will get to use many fast-paced katana strokes, acrobatic velocity, and a good amount of reflexes and memory to achieve your goals. Some enemies can be eliminated in more ways than a simple frontal attack, and each level introduces a new gameplay mechanic to enhance the experience, ranging from throwing shuriken to air strikes, slipping on walls or attacking on the ground. All of them consume SP but they can be reloaded easily by looting our robot enemies.

Cyber Shadow

The game has 11 story chapters spanning across the timeframe of 10 hours. There is a lot of personality oozing from the character sprites and cutscene animations, and even small bits of dialogue between levels are presented in a really classy way with strong 90’s vibes. It appears to be linear at first, but you realize quickly that there’s a certain amount of interconnectivity and backtracking to explore side areas and grab some stat upgrades for your health and SP.

The controls are simply amazing, and a far cry from anything that was introduced in the old era. Shadow (the ninja) moves exactly as we want him to, with careful precision and wide hit boxes. Parrying enemy bullets and reflecting them at opponents is always so accurate and satisfying, and I can’t recall a single instance where I felt there was a difficulty to apply any action I have already imagined in my head, despite the unforgiving level design.

Cyber Shadow

Cyber Shadow is a pretty hard game. The slightest mistake will often result in your death, and check points can be fairly spread out, but luckily everything seems fair in that regard as checkpoints contain a lot of helpful facilities to help make certain areas easier like shields and ninja Yo-Yo, but you will need to burn some money for them, so have to think carefully about the cost benefit ratio of each run and decide how you want to approach it.

It’s not a metroidvania per se, like The Messenger for example, but you could call it a very user friendly approach that rewards the player in many ways through careful planned elements across all levels. If you are ever at a disadvantages, especially during the crazy boss battles, which can introduce new mechanics on the fly, you can always trust that the developer has something in store for you to reward your endurance, and sustain the pacing without making the game an annoying chore to get through.

Finale

Finale
85 100 0 1
Cyber Shadow keeps its promise in handling the original influences of the past with the outmost care, and fulfilled all our hopes for a fun and exhilarating retro action-platforming experience with immaculate depth and quality of presentation. It can be pretty difficult at times, but never unfair or out of tone with how modern games should be.
Cyber Shadow keeps its promise in handling the original influences of the past with the outmost care, and fulfilled all our hopes for a fun and exhilarating retro action-platforming experience with immaculate depth and quality of presentation. It can be pretty difficult at times, but never unfair or out of tone with how modern games should be.
85/100
Total Score

The Good

  • High performance retro control schemes and level designs
  • A degree of interconnectivity and a very handy checkpoint system
  • Fine pacing and some hidden surprises inside each level

The Bad

  • Not the most inspiring or complicated structure
  • An adequate life span (7 to 10 hours max)
Total
2
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