I'm standing in the dark. My torch has run out, and I'm left to reflect on the foolishness of lighting the ones I passed in previous rooms and then leaving them in their sconces. No matter where I try to move in this pitch blackness, I take a step, trip, and crack my head open on a nearby rock. Several reloads have confirmed it: I have to start over. Welcome to Shadowgate.
Shadowgate was a brutally-hard Mac (and later NES) adventure game, where one failed puzzle could murder you and force you to start all over. The remake that Zojoi Studios has coming updates those visuals for the modern age, but keeps the puzzles difficult and the atmosphere dark. When I spoke to developer Karl Roelofs last month about the game's progress, the team still wasn't sure about its release date. Now that date is set, and Zojoi has exclusively revealed it to us, along with a trailer that shows off Shadowgate's commitment to its history.
I really wanted to fight wizards as an eight-year-old. I watched my older brother play Dungeons & Dragons with his friends, but I was far too young to join them as they adventured through castles and battled dragons. So when my brother sat me down in front of the NES version of Shadowgate, it felt like I was finally getting an adventure of my own. A terrifying, difficult adventure, where one wrong click meant instant death.
Twenty-five years later, the original developers are bringing Shadowgate back, this time to Steam. Developer Zojoi has reimagined what standing in front of the living castle should feel like, adding a (slightly) modern interface to the same punishing adventure gameplay of the original. Ahead of its summer release, I spoke to design director Karl Roelefs about what makes a modern Shadowgate, and why the team used illustrations instead of 3D models.