Unlike other recent masocore platformers, though, Cyber Shadow has a nasty habit of separating checkpoints by really long distances. You thankfully have unlimited lives, but even with that modern convenience, I was often stuck on one section for an hour at a time. The level design is consistently engaging, but the varied threats that kept me on edge quickly became frustrating. I found myself wishing that Mechanical Head had kept the same content in place, but with extra checkpoints to take some of the edge off.
Cyber Shadow offers minor tweaks that can make the difficulty less punishing. At each of the checkpoints, you have the option to spend orange orbs that you can collect throughout each level on upgrades that can provide a small buff. This system feels pretty undercooked, though. Given that you can keep orange orbs when you die, I always had more than enough to buy upgrades every time they were available.
Additionally, the upgrades on offer are inconsistent, and, often, when I reached a really difficult section, there was nothing useful for sale. So, rather than feeling like a potential purchase to help you proceed through especially difficult moments, these purchases instead feel like foregone conclusions. Of course you’ll buy it. What else are you going to do with all this cash? Not that it will help much.
Overall, Cyber Shadow is a fine homage that does little to differentiate itself from the many tough-as-nails action platformers that came before. Its one innovation feels inessential. But, if you really like being a ninja who is having a hard time, check it out.
Cyber Shadow’s boss battles are tough but creative, and these encounters are the one arena where the game’s difficulty feels most fair. With checkpoints right outside the boss chamber, you can focus purely on nailing this one short but challenging encounter, instead of maintaining a high level of performance across drawn-out platforming.
Cyber Shadow has tight platforming, solid action, and impressive art, but feels most defined by its frustrating difficulty.
Genre: Action-platformer | Format: PC (tested) / Mac / Linux / PS4 / PS5 / Xbox One / Switch | Developer: Mechanical Head Studios / Publisher: Yacht Club Games / Price: £17.99 / Release: Out now