Some games are just plain cool. Whether that coolness comes from the world in which they take place, from the characters that inhabit it, or from the story that revolves around them. In addition, some games even look and sound cool. Shadow Man is one of such cool games.
The main protagonist is Mike LeRoi, a black man who has the power to travel between the Liveside (where he is a cool guy with Morpheus-like shades) and the Deadside (where he becomes the Shadow Man), and is forced to maintain the necessary balance between them. In the Liveside he is in a close relationship with the voodoo fortune-teller, Nettie, who has provided him with a magical mask which granted him the damned immortality of Shadow Man (he was actually dead for a long time). In the Deadside, he exterminates various freaks and during his coffee break jumps to Jaunty, a worm-like gatekeeper with an Irish accent, for a handful of talks. The main plot begins when certain evil guys decide to move from the Deadside to the Liveside to unleash chaos, and our Mikey can’t allow this to happen, of course.
Shadow Man is a horror action-adventure game, and also a mixture of several other genres, and is closely related to Tomb Raider in terms of performance. There is a big world divided into several levels in which the progress is non-linear. You can teleport to certain checkpoints with the help of your deceased younger brother’s teddy bear (?!). At each level, you need to gather dark souls (5-15 per level for a total amount of 120) that allow you to gradually become stronger and stronger. Each level has a lot of passages which you can exploit later when you master new powers and have more soul power to unlock more complex gates. In general, the game has the perfect balance between shooting up the nasty creatures of the Deadside with the Shadowgun, and exploring/hopping/climbing in the same world. The levels are diverse in their appearance (interior and exterior, caves and factories, etc) and functionality (clearing your way through hordes of enemies, precise jumping, and solving logic problems).
The control system is such that you use the arrow keys to control Shadow Man's movement, while other keys (X, Y, Space, Ctrl, Alt, and Shift) enable him to jump, shoot, zoom in, strafe, and use objects/weapons in his left or right hand. The camera has many angles and generally acts properly, but turning around is a little stiffy, especially when you need to shoot at a target and simultaneously escape from it. But this (mild) system exists in Tomb Raider too and it didn’t prevent Miss Croft from becoming a legend.
The graphics are excellent ("Is it possible that you didn’t use the word ‘cool’?” commented the little devil sitting on the editor's left shoulder). At the time of its release, it was one of the best looking titles on the market, and looks great even today, at least to us fans of old games. The sound is good; the unfortunate inhabitants of the Deadside howl/wail/scream in a completely appropriate manner, and the ambient sounds correspond to the current environment level. The sound quality of the cinematics is great, and every opportunity to hear Jaunty’s voice and one of his witty remarks is always welcome.
After 50 hours of gameplay, the player will be rewarded with the tremendous satisfaction of completing such an epic game. Give this game a chance, you won't be disappointed.
Once you unzip the game, run UNPACK.BAT in order to unpack the sound files, and the game will work.