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Nostalgic game with non-graphic violence will test skills.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

You're fighting to save the world, but the story is threadbare, and the focus is mostly on defeating enemies.

Positive role models

The protagonist is a force for good, battling an evil warlock lord who summons demons. But he does kill or destroy everything in his path. 

Ease of play

The game, like its predecessor on the Nintendo Entertainment System, is brutally hard. Players die early and often. Victory is something few players will achieve -- even on the easiest of the three difficulty modes. 


Although the descriptions of death from the hero's mistakes can be somewhat detailed, no real violence is depicted. Players who skim the visual cues will know they've died by the screen tinting red and going dark. 

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Shadowgate is a modern remake of a classic action/adventure game. Like its predecessor, this downloadable game is extremely difficult -- to the point that it will frustrate even the most dedicated player. There's copious violence, but because the game sticks with its point-and-click roots, the violence isn't graphically represented. When players die (which happens frequently), they see the Grim Reaper rather than their own blood.

What's it about?

In SHADOWGATE, players assume the role of Jair, an adventurer summoned by the wizard Lakmir to free Castle Shadowgate from an evil sorcerer named Talimar the Black. You'll use a new take on old commands to battle enemies and explore the fantasy-filled dungeon (complete with wraiths, zombies, and more). Players must click on a series of written prompts (such as "look," "open," or "hit") and pair these with items in your inventory or your small on-screen avatar in the correct order to progress. Failure to do so often results in death.

Is it any good?


Shadowgate isn't a game for the easily frustrated. In fact, it may not even be a game for the focused player. It revels in its difficulty and takes great joy in killing off players. It also has a horribly dated user interface that slows things down tremendously, has too many similar choices, and feels incredibly clunky. Plus, the newly added levels don't add much except additional chances to watch the death screens again ... and again ... and again. 

So why would anyone consider playing? Shadowgate is beloved by old-school gamers precisely for its difficulty. The original was hard even when the standard for difficulty was a lot higher -- and the remake doesn't water down its source material. What it does do is add some stunning static art backgrounds that are a joy to behold. There may be no better game to test your mettle if you consider yourself a hardcore gamer. But if you lack that sense of challenge or nostalgia, there's little reason to pick this up. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about frustration and working toward a goal, such as the experience of playing Shadowgate. How do you work through your frustration when you're trying to accomplish a task? Is there a point when you give up, or do you keep fighting to the end?

  • Talk about the line between fantasy and reality. Why do you think some gamers have trouble distinguishing between the two?

  • Talk about the impact of violence in video games. Does violent content impact players if it's implied and not shown, or is it much worse if it's graphically depicted?

Game details

Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Available online
Developer:Reverb Triple XP
Release date:August 21, 2014
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
ESRB rating:NR

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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