Almost as bad as the original!
Let me put it bluntly—this PS4 exclusive is one of the worst games I've played this year. Other than character designs, there isn't a single thing about Shadow of the Beast that can be considered anything close to good. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times at decisions made by the development team, wondering how they thought they were good ideas.
The first time I laughed was at the very beginning of the game as the player character is being lead around on a leash like a kinky BDSM-pet roleplay. After slaughtering some monks who don't fight back, you come to a baby in a crib. Seeing this triggers some memory and you break free from your chains as your captor grabs the baby and starts to run off but not before you wound the evildoer.
Following a trail of blood for literally three levels, you finally catch up to the baby-snatcher who no longer has the baby. Where did the baby go? I still don't know. While some of the story can be gathered from just playing the levels, most of it is locked behind hidden items in each level and unlockable subtitles; this means tirelessly searching every nook and cranny, and grinding for points that can be used to unlock subtitles for each race.
The developers might as well be making you sit through a movie in a foreign language without subtitles before allowing you to watch it again with them turned on. Sure, you'll gather the gist of the story from actions, but it certainly helps to have the dialogue. This approach to storytelling also assumes players would want to replay levels, and trust me when I say you won't.
Each level consists of clunky platforming and enclosed fights where enemies spawn from both sides of the screen until a certain number of them are defeated. Neither the combat nor the AI is intelligent as a majority of the game can be completed by simply mashing the square button. The combat at least looks impressive as the beast rips enemies into pieces, but it just isn't satisfying to do so. Those who want to focus on getting high scores for each level might get a bit more enjoyment out of the combat as that means mixing up attacks and making sure to take minimal damage; however, I couldn't be bothered to care about online leaderboards.
Other awful design decisions include a level that is pitch-black and allows you to fumble your way through part of it before it tells you that you'll require a source of light to continue. I was stuck here for some time as I couldn’t figure out where this source of light was located. At the very start of this level, you're able to backtrack to the left a bit to be greeted by a large door that can not be climbed, like every other door. Yet the item I needed required me to climb the next door I came to, making it the only climbable door. The game doesn't even follow its very own logic.
Oddly enough in most situations where players could be stuck or confused, white text pops up on the screen telling you exactly what to do. This happens in nearly every boss fight, thus removing what little difficulty or guesswork there would have been. Of course, this doesn’t happen where it is needed most. If you need to have onscreen text telling players what to do, is that not an admission of poor game design? I believe so.
Shadow of the Beast is a remake an old-school Amiga game, one that I'd never played and is luckily included with this remake as an unlockable. After unlocking the original, I gave it a quick spin… and wow is it bad! Sure, for the time of its release, the graphics were great, revolutionary even, but the gameplay is just terrible. I can't even fathom how someone would even want to make a remake of such a terrible game, but here we are. I'll give this remake props; it somehow isn't as bad as the original.
The only enjoyable moments in Shadow of the Beast are those few when I laughed at how bad it was—the BDSM beginning, the story being a baby rescue, the baby seemingly disappearing and the beast not caring, and a jetpack sequence that feels completely out of place. Moments before a boss fight, the beast sees a jetpack on the ground and puts it on, then a battle ensues that plays like a poor man's Star Fox. Otherwise I’d rather have my three or so hours back.
Shadow of the Beast is as dull as it is brown, which is to say extremely. The platforming is clunky, the AI is bad, the story requires multiple playthroughs, the game defies its own logic, and it reeks of other laughably awful design decisions. Don't bother with this beast.