If you remember the kids show Nightmare where spotty gonk children wandered through a haunted castle and were more often than not gobbled up by some fleshless hellspawn, then Shadow Tower should look somewhat familiar.
As a brave (read stupid) young warrior, you step fearlessly into a spooky old castle and attempt to kill as many things as possible whilst staying this side of heaven. It’s a valiant attempt at a first-person RPG but the whole experience is somewhat devoid of thrills. A sense of atmosphere never really emerges and the 150 or so monsters than inhabit the keep always look out of place. Unfortunately this doesn’t stop them from being ridiculously hard to fight. Not only are you expected to control every axis of movement but you have to fend off clattering legions of skeletons at the same time, a feat that is extremely difficult unless you’re an octopus. To make matters worse, items are not only difficult to find but hard to pick up once you have found them. Vital seconds are wasted scrabbling around whilst some ghoulish fiend sneaks up behind you and eats into your HP. Bad! Shadow Tower also bears more than a passing resemblance to King’s Field, a first generation, first-person RPG from the same developer. The frame rate is just as sloth-like which helps bring the game down further.
RPGs have transcended everyone’s expectations in the past years and for this to compete it needed to be something very special. Unfortunately it’s an virtual equivalent of a rainy school-trip around some stinking old castle. There’ll probably be a gift-shop at the end with postcards and novelty paper-weights too.