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Cyber Shadow review for Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC


Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Developer: Mechanical Head Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

When it comes to classic NES action games, there’s a fair amount of solid games to choose from. One of my personal favorites was the Sunsoft release of Batman, based on the ‘89 Tim Burton film. It was a game that owed a fair amount of its gameplay ideas to other popular titles like Ninja Gaiden but still managed to be a pretty amazing, colorful, and oftentimes challenging, licensed action game for that era. So when I heard that the developer behind Cyber Shadow had mentioned that NES Batman was one of the inspirations for their game, well, I had to check it out. 

Cyber Shadow releases this week from publisher Yacht Club Games (Shovel Knight) and developer Mechanical Head Games, and boy if you like retro-inspired action-platformers, this is certainly one worth checking out. Wearing its old-school inspiration on its sleeve, Cyber Shadow is a 2D action game with spruced up 8-bit visuals, a fantastic soundtrack, and some super-tight controls that combine to make a really fun throwback game that shouldn’t be missed.

Launching on all major platforms, you’ll take control of a cybernetically enhanced ninja as you slash and jump your way across 10 stages battling all sorts of robotic enemies, colossal bosses, and fending off near-death as you make your way through a multitude of platforming challenges. I cannot overstate how great Cyber Shadow feels, the jumping is very precise, you’ve got a lot of mid-air movement control, and the expanding suite of additional powers you gain adds a lot to the flow of combat. 

Enemies are also balanced pretty well against your expanding list of talents. Each major boss encounter will generally result in a new ability being gained, like ranged shuriken attacks, a wall slide, a parry to use against projectiles, and so on. And once gained, the following level will almost assuredly force you to master that new skill with new enemies and obstacles to encounter. I thought the overall difficulty curve as you move through the various stages was handled really well, and while I ran into some pretty difficult sequences throughout, nothing really struck me as unfair. 

Part of that is thanks to a decent checkpoint system, which allows you to restart not too far from where you died. There are just a few moments where I wished the checkpointing was a bit more frequent, but overall I don’t feel like you’re getting pushed back or punished too much upon death. Generally, it’s just enough to allow you to memorize a chunk of a stage, or a boss pattern, so you can eventually blow past whatever hurdle you’re currently encountering. I also liked the small upgrades you could give to checkpoints, wherein you can use in-game currency dropped from enemies to upgrade a checkpoint so it will recharge your health or drop a weapon powerup. So even if you find yourself constantly failing at a sequence in the game, over time you’ll likely be able to unlock some additional help using the currency earned from each failed run. 

So if you’re in the mood for some retro-infused 2D ninja action, Cyber Shadow is highly recommended. It’s a really enjoyable experience, with an absolutely fantastic soundtrack, and certainly worth checking out on any available platform. 

Note: Yacht Club Games provided us with a Cyber Shadow Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: A