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What The Critics Are Saying About Cyber Shadow

So far, Yacht Club Games' only development credits to its name are Shovel Knight and its spin-offs. These were ultimately collected into the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove package, which is among the best games on the Switch. Though Yacht Club is currently working on more stand-alone Shovel Knight games, they decided in the meantime to publish the debut release of solo developer Aarne "MekaSkull" Hunziker, Cyber Shadow. In anticipation of its Jan. 26 release, critics have begun to share their thoughts on how its gameplay, inspired by Ninja Gaiden for the NES (the second-best ninja game of all time), stacks up in the present-day gaming landscape.

As a whole, Cyber Shadow currently sits at a Metascore of 83. Among the scores aggregated by Metacritic, IGN gave Cyber Shadow an 8/10. Screen Rant gave it an equivalent 4/5. Game Informer scored it with a 7.5/10. Destructoid also gave it a 7.5/10.

Tough but fair

In his review for IGN, Mitchell Saltzman generally praised Cyber Shadow's ability to balance replicating and modernizing the difficult gameplay of Ninja Gaiden that so inspired it. While it can be "occasionally brutally difficult," Saltzman explained, that difficulty is oftentimes alleviated by upgrades at checkpoints tailored specifically to forthcoming areas. On the other hand, Saltzman criticized the periodic lack of checkpoints in certain lengthy, difficult areas. One particular standout area for Saltzman was its 8-bit soundtrack, which he described as an "absolute banger," and "an early contender for best soundtrack of 2021."

Leo Faierman, in his review for Screen Rant, praised Cyber Shadow for clever game design, from its environments to its enemies, despite its faithfulness to the relatively simplistic Ninja Gaiden formula. Some of its controls, however, Faierman explained, could be finicky, detracting from otherwise satisfyingly difficult gameplay. Like Saltzman in his IGN review, Faierman criticized checkpoint placement, which he noted could "test player patience and even feel outright unfair."

Proudly retro

In his review for Game Informer, writer Marcus Stewart similarly described Cyber Shadow as, first and foremost, extremely difficult. Cyber Shadow won't just "kick your butt," as per his assessment — it'll "chew you up and spit you out, much like the classic Ninja Gaiden series that inspired it." Stewart expanded upon some of Faierman's criticisms of Cyber Shadow's controls. Players activate abilities by selecting a direction on the D-pad or control stick in conjunction with the attack button. He ultimately found it easy to mistakenly input an unintended direction. Overall, however, Stewart described its occasionally unfair, retro difficulty as satisfying as a whole.

Finally, Chris Carter, in his review for Destructoid, noted that while Cyber Shadow "wears its retro influences on its sleeve," it includes "a bunch of little conveniences and its own personality along the way." Some of that personality, like its story, Carter found lacking overall. On the other hand, he described the upgrades at checkpoints in particular to be a welcome update to its retro framework.

Cyber Shadow will be available for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Swtich, and PC on Jan. 26, 2021.