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Parents' Guide to Shadow of the Beast (PEGI 18)

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In collaboration with the Games Rating Authority, here’s our parent’s guide to Shadow of the Beast.

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1. Genre

Shadow of the Beast is a fantasy action game in which the player takes the form of Aarbron, the titular beast, jumping and fighting their way through a fantasy world.

Gameplay is viewed in third person from a side-on perspective, Aarbron moving on a sideways plane but with three dimensional depth to the backgrounds. Aarbron has to jump from platform to platform, solve puzzles as well as fighting monstrous enemies in heavily timing based battles where well-timed counters and combos will lead to satisfying and gory victory.

Shadow of the Beast is a remake of the 90s Amiga game of the same name, this remake is also comparable to the remakes of games like Strider and Bionic Commando.

2. PEGI Rating

In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates Shadow of the Beast PEGI 18, suitable for adults only, for Strong Bloody Violence.

2. GRA Information

The Games Rating Authority expand on their PEGI details by saying that Shadow of the Beast features ‘gory violence’ and that when Aarbron ‘collects enough blood [he] can perform a Blood Rage move ‘ where he ‘decapitates and dismembers his enemies’ in close-up. Most enemies are ‘fantasy characters’ but there are some human enemies early on, while ‘all violence is accompanied by a large amount of blood’.

4. Story

Aarbron, a human stolen as a baby and transformed into a bestial war machine, starts the game as a slave of an evil sorceror, but breaks free and seeks revenge against Maletoth and his allies when he sees his father killed. While minimal in terms of overt story, the game has a layered and complex world based on a lavish art style drawn from the works of SciFi and album cover artist Roger Dean.

5. Developer

Shadow of the Beast is developed by Heavy Spectrum, a British studio that developed Playstation Mobile titles Puzziball and Bullion Blitz.

6. Format

Shadow of the Beast is a Playstation 4 exclusive available digitally on the Playstation Store for £11.99 or $19.99.

7. Duration and Difficulty

Shadow of the Beast’s campaign takes around five hours to complete, although this will vary depending on player ability and whether you choose to walk through the game on easy mode or choose a more gruelling difficulty level. Similarly, the original Shadow of the Beast is available as an unlockable extra, and while that game takes only twenty minutes to play from start to finish it will take many hours to develop the mastery to do that.

8. Themes

Shadow of the Beast’s story is very dark fantasy, with a protagonist who was stolen as a baby and warped into a beast by evil powers. It is seeing the death of his father that causes Arbron to regain his consciousness and set out for revenge. From these bitter origins he goes on a bloody rampage, a mission that is unlikely to lead to an upbeat ending. There are also mystical themes to the game, with dark magic used to turn the blood of Aarbron’s enemies into powerful attacks and upgrades.

9. Why people play:

Shadow of the Beast is pure, if brutal, fantasy harking back to an age of surreal fantasy art by the likes of Roger Dean, whose work inspired the original game, and Chris Foss. Its layered world is full of busy detail and oblique hints at how the world functions, and the colour scheme is considerably more vibrant than modern, grey and brown SciFi shooters or fantasy hack ‘em ups.

The original game was notorious for its difficulty, but this remake aims to provide a more balanced set of options, allowing less experienced players to explore the world through easier settings, but allowing old school masochists to take a more punishing approach.

Whichever way you play, Shadow of the Beast is intriguing, violent and very very pretty.

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Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.