Even as we’ve entered a brand new era of console {hardware}, the 8-bit aesthetics of yesteryear proceed to stay in vogue. Largely, we’ve 2014’s Shovel Knight to thank for that, a crowdfunded indie platformer that managed to mix all the most effective bits of NES-era platformers, leading to one thing that felt contemporary and distinctive.

It’s additionally been one thing of a money cow for developer Yacht Membership Video games, who adopted it up with plenty of expansions whereas its eponymous knight crossed over into each different indie sport. In peril of getting stale then, they’ve properly launched into publishing to offer different 8-bit-inspired builders their likelihood to shine.

Enter Cyber Shadow.

Cyber Shadow. Credit score: Mechanical Head Video games

The sport is the work of a solo developer at Mechanical Head Video games, taking a heavy dose of inspiration from NES ninja platformers like Ninja Gaiden and Shadow Of The Ninja. Nonetheless, the emphasis on genuine 8-bit presentation with a contemporary contact makes Yacht Membership Video games an ideal accomplice.

However whereas Cyber Shadow has the smoother and tighter motion of a contemporary sport, it’s much less within the jokey postmodern breaking-the-fourth-wall antics of its contemporaries, enjoying its story pretty critical with a darkish aesthetic. Set in a cyberpunk future within the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, you play as cyborg ninja Shadow who’s been revived to traverse the ruins of Meka Metropolis with the intention to rescue members of your historic clan whose mystical powers are being harvested by an evil artificial military led by a mad scientist.

It makes for a simple yarn, sometimes punctuated with traditional pixel-art reduce scenes harking back to Ninja Gaiden or interacting with the setting for tidbits of lore. However these don’t get in the best way of what most of you’re right here for: old-school hardcore ninja motion and platforming with a bad-ass boss to tackle on the finish of every stage.

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Cyber Shadow. Credit score: Mechanical Head Video games

Things begin off fairly fundamental as you simply have a button for leaping or slashing enemies along with your katana, however as you free your clan allies, or sometimes take a problem in a totally totally different realm, you step by step unlock an entire suite of ninja expertise that put it a reduce above its ’80s inspirations.

Whereas it could’ve been preferable to have extra talents to begin off with – certainly double-jumping and wall-sliding must be obligatory for all ninjas – it balances out when you can even be taught to parry and deflect enemy projectiles or carry out a drop assault that may also be used to bounce off enemies and objects. Remember, nonetheless, it differs barely from the same transfer in Shovel Knight, providing you with an additional bounce that may throw your trajectory off.

The standout means is the cross-slash the place you’re not solely in a position to dash however slash via enemies whereas additionally traversing big distances within the blink of a watch. As a result of it additionally resets, you may successfully chain cross-slashes into consecutive enemies and objects. Whereas doing this renders earlier ranges a little bit of a joke at simply how briskly you may zip via them, the extent design appropriately ups the stakes to match your new instruments.

The sport’s second half places your ninja expertise to the check so that you simply’re parrying via laser-firing doorways in a cramped hall or cross-slashing throughout precarious chasms the place it pays to maneuver quick as a substitute of meandering for too lengthy solely to be overwhelmed. That nonetheless additionally encourages recklessness, doubtless resulting in extra deaths.

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Cyber Shadow. Credit score: Mechanical Head Video games

Fortunately, the place Cyber Shadow differs from its 8-bit counterparts is its strategy to problem, with checkpoints which are each generously spaced – although rather less so in direction of the endgame – that additionally provide the choice to spend forex to offer extra help, so as a substitute of simply restoring well being, you can even refill your SP used for particular assaults or get a useful merchandise drop.

This stuff vary from an additional protect to a sentry drone or a yoyoing buzzsaw that helps take out enemies in any other case out of your attain. When you don’t get to decide on what merchandise a checkpoint has, it should nearly actually offer you a leg-up in your present state of affairs, particularly on the subject of the powerful however good boss fights, which might be formidable foes of your personal measurement and pace to screen-filling juggernauts. Hardcore gamers might select to barrel on forward however it’s good that these choices exist to make Cyber Shadow that bit extra accessible.

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Even with useful checkpoints, it’s nonetheless a troublesome sport at the most effective of instances. A part of that sadly stems from some old-school parts, comparable to dreaded knockback animation that’s prone to drop you off a platform right into a spike-filled pit. There are few issues extra irritating than surviving an onslaught solely to run into an instant-death impediment.

Regardless of a pair neat novel moments, from an auto-scrolling bike part to attending to pilot a mech, Cyber Shadow is a a lot leaner sport in comparison with Shovel Knight, its size and singular scope extra on par with the latter’s expansions. Nonetheless, most will probably be relieved to see a sport not making an attempt to duplicate Darkish Souls’ misplaced forex mechanic or getting extra bloated than it must be, as was the case with 8-bit/16-bit ninja platformer The Messenger.

There’s nonetheless a contact of Metroid in how one can revisit previous ranges to uncover hidden objects to improve your well being and SP. In any other case, its replayability is generally reserved for speedrunners or completionists aiming to tick off the Feats – the in-game achievement system additionally seen in Shovel Knight. Right here’s hoping that we’ll see free DLC content material sooner or later if the sport is successful, as a result of Cyber Shadow actually deserves each success and extra content material.

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‘Cyber Shadow’ is now accessible on Nintendo Change, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and PC.

Our Verdict

Cyber Shadow might not really feel as groundbreaking as Shovel Knight however its singular design is apt as a labour of affection from a solo developer. Some might even discover it refreshing that it eschews the function creep of contemporary video games, because it checks your ninja mettle with not more than an escalating collection of tight and difficult action-platforming setpieces. If the cyberpunk style typically feels prefer it’s caught within the Nineteen Eighties, then this one doesn’t fake in any other case.


  • Devoted 8-bit period visuals and music
  • Tight responsive controls that will get higher as you unlock extra ninja expertise
  • Nice difficult set piece bosses, but in addition fortunately balanced with elective upgrades at checkpoints


  • Put together for some irritating old-school knockbacks and instant-death obstacles
  • Mild on options in comparison with Shovel Knight

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