aka: Behemoth, Shadowkeep
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Description official descriptions

Using the same graphical interface as Deja Vu, Shadowgate is an adventure game set in a fantasy world. Players take the part of an adventurer sent to the ancient keep of Shadowgate on a quest to find a mystic artifact known as the Staff of Ages and stop the evil Warlock Lord from summoning a horrific demon known as the Behemoth. However, Shadowgate has become infested with the Warlock Lord's demonic minions, not to mention the castle's still functional booby-traps.

Unlike Deja Vu, death comes at the protagonist suddenly, unexpectedly and, most of all, often. Such simple acts as pulling the wrong switch or opening the wrong door can cause the hero to be skewered by a booby-trap or disemboweled by a monster. If the player character's torch burns out (this happens quite regularly) and the player forgets to light a new one, the protagonist will trip in the dark and break his neck.


  • シャドウゲイト - Japanese spelling

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Average score: 75% (based on 36 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 80 ratings with 6 reviews)

Early dungeon point and click puzzler, a little "mature"

The Good
For better or worse, it was more linear than previous ICOM point and click games. Still had you walking on eggshells though. I don't believe there are any real-time, arcade battles, you defeat monsters, ghosts etc. by hitting them with the right object from your (limited)inventory, much like say King's Quest. It's interesting how you find a sword in a locked cupboard just inside the castle, but it's barely useful for anything. So it's an interesting "pick the right object, choose the right path" sort of game with some nice, atmospheric graphics and scary death scenes. And there was one particular secret path that I thought was cleverly hidden.

The Bad
Like I said, you're walking on eggshells. If you forget to light another torch before your's goes out, you're dead. There are a lot of false moves resulting in death. Standard for ICOM games I suppose. It's learn by death.

The Bottom Line
I'm sure I completed the Game Boy version of this game in 2001 without help, but it took a long time. I don't really believe in making such sacrifices for games anymore. I gave up on this version maybe just over half way through, after deciding that the removing the game's obstacles relied too much on random, try anything, experimentation. It's not really a game which you can appreciate for the logic put into the puzzles. Sometimes even if it takes ages to solve a puzzle, or you have to look up the solution, you can respect the challenge and see it as worthwhile. In other games though, not necessarily in this one.

If you're interested in early point and click though i.e ICOM, this game is decent enough and I think more enjoyable than the Déja Vu games.

Macintosh · by Andrew Fisher (695) · 2018

A very good adventure game that takes advantage of the Amiga's capabilities

The Good
Shadowgate was an unique adventure game by ICOM Simulators released in 1987. While most adventure games at the time were text only (Lucasfilm's games aside), it was one of the first games to feature a mouse-driven interface already present in Déjà Vu, the company's first game released two years before for the Macintosh. I am reviewing the Amiga version, which I am most impressed with.

The game starts with the player standing outside the castle. There is a good reason for this. Lakmir, the good wizard, needs him to venture into the castle so that he can banish the evil Warlock Lord, who threatens to raise the Behemoth, the deadliest of Titans, from the depths of the Earth.

You start out the game with a flaming torch in your inventory, and there is a reason why you are carrying this. It will go out any minute, and you don't have long to find another torch and light that one and drop the burnt-out torch. To me, this seems like a sub-objective, if you can call it that. If you happen to run out of torches, it will become dark and you will soon fall to your death if you try to do anything else. You will have no problem trying to avoid blackouts, as long as you use the torches sparingly.

Everything is presented in their own separate windows that can be moved around and manipulated, just like Workbench. This means you can select one or more inventory items by dragging a box around them, and placing them anywhere on the main screen. The ability to drop multiple inventory items means that you waste little time and avoid blackouts. There are various commands at your disposal, and these commands take some getting used to. Of these, the SPEAK command is rarely used, and it is not to command a door to “open sesame”. The GO command can be used to go from one room to another (providing that you OPEN the door first), but I find it more easy to double-click on the exit.

There are many hidden creatures scattered around the castle, and they eventually reveal themselves if you try to take an item out of the same room as they are. Chances are that you need that item later, so you have to deal with these creatures. In one occasion, you can't take the platinum horn without dealing with a demon dog. This is not unexpected, as there are certainly many other creatures from other adventure games of its time.

As I said in the summary, Shadowgate takes full advantage of the Amiga's capabilities. The hand-painted backgrounds look good, and the animations are nicely done. There are some amazing sound effects, with my favorite being scream that you emit when you fall down a trap door if you try to take forbidden items. There is some background music, and the ending is much more satisfying. (You even get to print out a winning certificate, which is well designed.)

The Bad
The main problem with Shadowgate concerns its inventory. Once your inventory happens to be full, then if you try to pick any more items, you are greeted with the annoying “You can't take that” message. It's frustrating that I try to pick up something that I want, then try to drop as many useless items no matter how large or small it is, only to find out that it isn't enough. So my best option was to leave almost my entire inventory behind and come back for some things later, knowing them I just wasted enough light for doing so.

The Bottom Line
Shadowgate is a very good adventure game for its time, with its notable features beating those Lucasfilm games by two years. The game takes full advantage of the Amiga's capabilities. The graphics and sound is great, and whatever music there is, it is brilliantly composed. If you like good adventure games, then you have to play this.

Amiga · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2015

Gateway game

The Good
"Shadowgate" is what got me hooked on adventure games. I could leave it at that, but I want to convince everyone else of how great it is, so I shall go on.

Published in 1989, "Shadowgate" (like its noir sibling, "Déjà Vu") is an archetype of the first-person graphical adventure game. The player goes behind the eyes of a warrior infiltrating the ancient keep of Shadowgate in an attempt to stop the evil Lord Warlock before he summons a powerful demon. The screen is divided between a view of the current area, a command window doubling to show messages from the game, and an inventory/spell list. (There is also a torch symbol, important, since letting the torch burn out means automatic death.) A cursor shaped like a skeletal hand allows the player to use commands such as TAKE, EXAMINE etc. on the scenery and objects.

Progress through the game is essentially simple: open doors, head further into the game, pick up everything that might possibly be used against Lord Warlock. Now and then locked doors, monsters etc. get in the way, and one has to, well, use the right object to bypass them.

All of this won't tell you why I love this game. Only playing it will. It's somewhat primitive; basically a text adventure with graphics, when it comes down to it. It still captivated me as a young gamer, because it was so immersive.

The graphics are nothing incredibly complex, but transmit the mood nicely. I particularly liked the textures of the ubiquitous stone: masoned walls, smooth flagged floors, knotty natural rock. Some sights stayed in my mind for a while: the Dragon Room, for example, or the top of the tower.

The music is, almost without exception, excellent. It's always dark in some fashion or other (Shadowgate isn't a nice place to be), but it shifts from the drama of the entrance to the melancholy notes of the enchanted garden to the open threat of the Dragon Room. It's been over a decade, and I can still hum some of the tunes.

While the puzzles are a mixed bag, some were quite inspired. I particularly liked the various uses of the sphere (a bit of a departure from the tendency of "one object, one puzzle" in early adventure games), the flying potion, and the riddles of the sphinx. Plenty of clues were embedded everywhere, in more or less subtle form, which made the game feel coherent. (I also rather enjoyed the "Motari Riseth" poem.)

And made up by music and graphics and other things, there is the mood. How can I describe it? It's mainly nightmarish, but so fascinating I was disappointed when I finished it. Well, I was a young girl who had never played an adventure game before, and it astounded me. I'm not saying that "Shadowgate" is the best game in existence, but for a year it populated my dreams.

The Bad
As I explained above, the game mechanics are rather simplistic. Puzzles have to be solved to get by, but due to the constraints of the form, they are mostly a case of simple manipulation of scenery (pulling a switch) or Use Object On Other Object. In fact, when I got stuck, I could get unstuck simply by trying every object on everything else. I guess it couldn't really be made more complex at the time, but within modern frames of reference it feels minimal.

As a fantasy freak, I wouldn't have minded more plot, or indeed any world-building. The very basic plot (warrior tries to defeat evil warlock) is basically suspended between the introduction and the final room, which is simply exploration and puzzle-solving. Some things (such as the books in the library) give some tantalising hints about the history of the castle and the world outside, but they never really tie together. I can't help but feeling that just a bit more plot would have made it even better.

There is a lot of writing, since the graphics themselves don't convey much. The writing quality is quite sufficient (with some glitches), but not literary. (Interestingly, I played the game in a Swedish translation, which was decent.)

The main problem with "Shadowgate" is the frequent and unfair occurrences of death. Modern adventure games, even if they don't conform to LucasArts "no death" rule, simply are not this cruel. Dying because you try to swim in a shark-infested lake, or cross a dilapidated bridge... I can understand that. But in "Shadowgate", you can also die because you pick up an object that is invisibly booby-trapped, enter a cave that collapses over your head, or try to save a prisoner who turns out to be a werewolf. The booby-trapped objects in particular were aggravating: objects have to be taken, and there is no way to tell which ones will kill you. Still, after the rather nifty "you have died" scene, the player is returned to the room previous to the one where death occurred, so it isn't that bad. (I also didn't find any way of making the game unfinishable.)

(Incidentally, when I played it, the game had a bit of a bug, allowing the player to stay in the Fire Room without wearing the cloak. You simply had to enter the room, leave automatically because of the heat, then get killed. You would be returned to the Fire Room without having to leave.)

The SPEAK command is virtually useless: there are no characters capable of holding a conversation with you, and while SPEAK activates the spells, so does USE.

There could have been more of it. But then, I always say that.

The Bottom Line
A groundbreaking game, "Shadowgate" is enjoyable in its own right, and should be considered a classic. Short on plot and complexity, big on object-puzzles and sudden death, it is still a large, mood-filled adventure that should remain playable after 16 years.

NES · by Christina Nordlander (24) · 2005

[ View all 6 player reviews ]


Inform port

Programmer David Griffith re-implemented an entirely text-only port of this game in Inform, available (with source!) at his website, reviewed in SPAG #36.

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Shadowgate: Special Edition DLC
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Shadowgate 64: Trials of the Four Towers
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Alan Chan.

Windows 3.x, Amiga added by POMAH. Nintendo 3DS added by GTramp. NES added by PCGamer77. Apple IIgs added by Eli Tomlinson. Macintosh added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Apogee IV, Pseudo_Intellectual, Havoc Crow (formerly JudgeDeadd), Thomas Thompson, David Griffith, Rodney Fisk.

Game added March 17th, 2000. Last modified September 22nd, 2023.