Name: Shadow Man
Format: Nintendo 64*, Playstation, PC, Dreamcast.
Developer: Acclaim Teeside Studios
BBFC rating: 15
Acclaim's wonderfully dark 3D action platformer. The game is based on the themes of Voodoo and the afterlife, and a supernatural avenger who is trying to save the world from the enemy, named Legion.
The basic plot of the game is that you play Mike LeRoi, an ex cab driver from New Orleans. After Mike got in trouble with a street gang he was in fear of his life. He asked a Voodoo priest to put a charm on him to protect him from dying. Unfortunately it worked a little to well, and then the gang decided to attack Mike's car, which also contained the rest of his family, including Luke, his brother. Everyone in the car died, except Mike. When he woke up from a 5 year coma, his memory was gone, and he was a slave to the Voodoo priest, forced to work as a hitman for him. Later, Nettie, another powerful Voodoo priest, freed Mike from the clutches of his original master. She put the mask of shadows in his chest, forcing him to become his alter ego, Shadow Man, walker of Deadside.
Deadside and Liveside are the two worlds in which the game is set. You travel between them using Luke's teddy bear, which warps to any level which you have already visited.
Deadside is the afterlife, a twisted world full of once living people turned in to zombies, or even little two headed walking torsos. Most of the game is set in Deadside.
- Marrow gates
- This is the first area of Deadside, and this is where you can talk to Jaunty, a skeleton snake who is your mentor of sorts in Deadside. He will provide you "advice", but regrettably some of it is not helpful in the slightest.
- Paths of Shadow
- These paths connect every area of Deadside together, and this is the place you will spend most of your time trekking though.
- The Temple of Life located in the Wasteland is where you can trade in any cadeaux you find - 100 gets you a new block on your life bar.
- Temple of Fire
- This is the first of the Gad temples, and after completing it you are rewarded with the Gad Toucher which allows you to push burning blocks without taking damage.
- Temple of Prophecy
- This Gad temple is the home of the Gad Marcher, which allows Shadow Man to walk over hot coals without taking damage.
- Temple of Blood
- The final, and hardest Gad temple, contains the Gad Nager, which allows you to swim in lava without taking damage. All three Gad tattoos are needed to complete the game.
- The Asylum, the main base of Legion, the Shadow man's arch enemy. Contains:
- Contains a train to transport you into the Asylum proper.
- Where you first get to see the inspiring size of the Asylum up close.
- Cathedral of Pain
- This level is the gate to all five of the serial killers lairs in Liveside. Retractors are needed to enter each lair through the girsly "Schism" gateway (a flayed torso, into which you plunge a surgical tool to open it up. It then become a passage to Liveside
- The Gad Nager is almost essential here, because as the name suggests, the level is full of lava.
- This is the most disturbing level in the game, because it is made up of white tiled rooms covered with blood.
- This moody level is one of the last in the game (although as with all the others, it can be reached quite early on, since Shadow man is so non-linear) and as such has Dark Souls hidden in the most fiendish places.
- Engine Block
- This level is crucial to finishing the game, as it houses the dark engine which powers the Asylum. The engine was built by one of The Five, Jack 2. You must shut it down to proceed.
Liveside is the game's name for our world. A small but very significant portion of the game is set here.
Levels set in Liveside include:
- Bayou Paradise
- This level houses Nettie the Voodoo priest, who is ultimately in charge of you. She gives you necessary items at the start, and can be returned to at any time for advice.
- Gardelle Jail
- This level houses three of the serial killers: The Lizard King, the Repo man, and the Video Nasty Killer. Naturally, the prison is in the middle of a full scale riot.
- Mordant St. NY
- This gloomy level houses Avery Marx, aka the Home improvement killer. He wanders round this pitch dark flat with Night vision goggles, hunting you.
- Down St. Station
- This out of use tube station is the home of Jack 2, a resurrected version of the original Jack the Ripper. He is the hardest serial killer to beat.
The levels with serial killers in can at first only be entered through a Schism Trace from the Cathedral of Pain, but once they have been explored they can be warped to from anywhere, using Luke's Bear.
The game revolves around Mike's quest to ultimately find all 120 Dark Souls. Dark Souls can be used to open Coffin Gates in Deadside, which then allow new parts of the game to be explored. The game is hopelessly vast, with a reputed 70 odd hours of gameplay. Shadow Man or Mike LeRoi run, jump, swim and climb their way through enormous levels, which contain excellent graphics, top notch sound, and interestingly for an Acclaim game, no fog.
Abilities, weapons, and items were all collectable, and imporoved as you went through the game, and so you ended up with a Shadow Man who could walk across hot coals, swim in lava, climb up bloodfalls (think a red waterfall) and push flaming blocks. Both supernatural voodoo weapons and real world machine guns are included.
Overall this game is incredibly complex and challenging. If you like your adventures set in a dingy depressing place of doom, then Shadow Man is the way to go. I have never got very far on it, due to my Controller Pak not working, so I cannot save my game. However, the bits I have played are wonderlingly splendiforous. It's out for the PC on budget now in the UK for £5. Pick it up - I know I will.
*I currently only own the N64 version, so if other versions have major differences don't complain to me.
Thanks to Triften for a correction.