Initial release date: January 26th, 2021
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Designer: Aarne Hunziker
Composer: Enrique Martin, Jake Kaufman
Developers: Mechanical Head Studios, Aarne Hunziker
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems
"Review Copy provided by Yacht Club Games and Mechanical Head Studios"
Indie titles continue to amaze me with how they can take inspiration from already established classics and still go on to craft completely original experiences that exceed what the inspiration could even dream to be. We have seen this time and again with titles like Fight N’ Rage, Shovel Knight, Blazing Chrome, Bloodstained, and now we have a game that takes on the OGs of the ninja action genre of the NES era with Cyber Shadow. Developed by Mechanical Head Studios and published by Yacht Club Games of Shovel Knight Fame, Cyber Shadow looks to deliver the ultimate 8-bit ninja action game that stays true to its roots of the old school while embracing modern gaming conventions. Does it succeed in surpassing the legacy crafted by games of the genre like Legend of Kage, Shinobi, and Ninja Gaiden? Or does it swing too high for the fences and commits seppuku in shame? Let’s find out!
MekaCity has fallen to ruin and is overrun by synthetic lifeforms that are harvesting the “Essence” of all sentient life. A lone shinobi, Shadow, awakens from a stasis after having a dream of seeing the city leveled as he clutches on to a pendent that belonged to the Master. After being informed that his clan has been hunted down and on the verge of being exterminated and that the one he loves, the Master, is desperately pleading for his help; Shadow takes up his blade and rushes into the night. How far is Shadow willing to go to avenge his clan? To what lengths will he press on for the one he loves? Who can Shadow trust and how long will his will and determination preserve him as his “Essence” continues to leave his body? The path of the Shinobi is cruel…….
You will often hear people compare this game to Ninja Gaiden over and over and maybe that’s because many don’t have much experience with NES ninja games or maybe that’s because that’s the easiest and laziest thing to compare this to which is funny because there is nothing in this game that is similar to Ninja Gaiden other than having a ninja. This game is essentially a level-based Metroid-Vania with heavy inspiration from Legend of Kage, Shatterhand, and Strider with every area being connected to one another and there being many secret places to explore with breakable walls and powerups and abilities to gain allowing you to come back to earlier levels to try alternate routes.
Your controls are incredibly simple with you technically only using two buttons being Cross for Jump and Square for Attack (or A and X on Xbox/Steam or B and Y on Nintendo Switch). In starting off the game you would assume that this game isn’t very deep and it’s very easy to write it off as a run of the mill modern retro style game with no substance to it; and that is where you’d be wrong.