Release Date: December 1989
It’s up to you to stop the evil Warlock Lord from bringing forth the Behemoth and unleashing it across the Earth in Shadowgate! The titular castle is where your adventure takes place and it is full of trial and error puzzles galore for you to stumble your way through. Shadowgate is the first of the MacVenture games to make its way to the NES.
The point and click interface shows several different portions on the screen. The view window shows the particular room you’re in at the time. Here you will see various items, containers, enemies, and doors to interact with. On the right is your current inventory. Here you’ll find everything you’ve picked up and whatever spells you’ve found. On the bottom are your commands, which are how you interact with the different things on screen. The bottom left shows your current exits from the room you’re in.
Your goal is to move through the castle and find a way to stop the Warlock Lord from his evil plot. During your stay in the castle, you will die. Every mistake you make will lead to death. Pick up the wrong item? Dead. Smash the wrong mirror? Dead. Walk through ooze? Dead. Move down the wrong path? Dead.
There are some puzzle solutions that aren’t obvious and will require some lateral thinking if not outright trying every combination you can. The banshee, for example, requires you to light a standalone torch and throw it. If you try to use your normal lit torch, you will be told to do it another way. You can get a hint if you can press the Start or Select Buttons.
I played through Shadowgate a few years ago, so the game was fairly fresh in my mind. I made some mistakes in order to get death footage. When you play, make sure to pay attention to the text in order to know what to do in the end battle. The Warlock Lord will ultimately fail and in spectacular fashion.
I think everything is really well drawn.
To this day, the low torch music haunts my dreams. The soundtrack is great.
Everything works quite simply. Click the proper buttons and everything is fine.
Some of the solutions are quite obtuse and require too much trial and error, which doesn’t punish you at all.
Fun Factor: 2.0
It’s fun and frustrating the first time. There’s very little replay value, though, as there’s no randomization.
Overall Grade: 2.5
Shadowgate earns a B-. This is a great title to play and enjoy. The atmosphere carries the experience.