Shadow Bug ($3.99) by Muro Studios Ltd. is a gorgeous new action platformer game that will pull you in from the start. If you enjoy dark and mysterious environments in your puzzle games, similar to that of Limbo, Red Game Without A Great Name, and the follow up Green Game TimeSwapper, then you’re going to love Shadow Bug, despite the fact that it differentiates itself a bit from the rest thanks to more action.
Ever since Limbo hit various platforms everywhere, the rise of the dark and gloomy silhouette-heavy games has steadily grown, and I’m not sure if we’ve reached the peak yet, but I don’t mind. I’m a fan of this unique art style, as I found that the games that fall in this category are rather immersive, creepy, and just fun. When I heard of Shadow Bug, I was intrigued by the art style, and it looked to pack in a lot of action while being a bit “artsy,” so to speak. Now that it is finally on the App Store, I am not disappointed.
Visually, Shadow Bug is stunningly beautiful. While it takes pages from those silhouette-heavy titles, the game stands out due to the hand drawn environments that you see in the backgrounds, which even have a parallax effect. The game’s art looks exquisite and there’s plenty of detail, so it’s obvious that the developers put a lot of care into the game. The colors are also beautiful, as they range from soft pastels to bold, vibrant hues to dingy grays and inky blacks. And while the main character and all of the enemies that stand in your way appear as nothing more than various black blobs of some kind, their forms span from simple to intricate and complex, especially the flying enemies. Animations in the game are smooth and fluid with no lag on my iPhone 6s Plus. The soundtrack has an oriental tone to it as well, which is fitting, and the sound effects are a nice finishing touch to the game’s visual and audio package. In all honesty, Shadow Bug is one of the most alluring games that has graced my device lately.
Shadow Bug provides players with several different chapters that have about eight levels each, including a boss fight. In Shadow Bug, players take control of an overpowered ninja hero named Shadow Bug. A evil factory nearby has caused terrible creatures invading his home forest and it’s up to him to take it back by slicing these creatures into pieces. In each stage, you’ll have to slice-and-dice your way through the foes while reaching the gate at the end — sometimes it’s rather straightforward and other times a little thinking is required (the puzzle element comes into play). But either way, you’re going to have to be quick on your toes to survive, due to the incredibly simple control scheme.
The greatest thing about Shadow Bug is the fact that you only need one hand to play the game. To have Shadow Bug move left or right, just tap-and-hold on the appropriate half of the screen. When an enemy appears, just tap on it to attack — Shadow Bug instantly warps over to the target, so that’s how you get through otherwise impossible obstacles and make your way to the gate. With this in mind, you have to time your attacks carefully, as sometimes you’ll have to perform a series of attacks in order to reach the next available platform, otherwise you’ll face a grueling death on spikes or some other hazard. While you’re in the air, you can still long press on the left or right side of the screen to “fall” in that direction, but just watch out for dangers.
Once you reach the end gate, you’ll be awarded up to three shurikens (instead of stars, because you know, ninja) for level completion, finishing within the time limit, and getting all of the glowing white orbs that are floating around (and that drop from fallen foes). If you are a perfectionist, then the game does have some replay value because you’ll want to go back and try levels again until you master them. There is also Game Center integration for leaderboards and achievements, which increases the longevity of the game (as long as Game Center works for you to begin with). And if you like to share your game moments, Shadow Bug has full screen recording capabilities that were added recently in iOS.
Even though I’m still early on in the game, I’ve been enjoying Shadow Bug a lot since I downloaded it yesterday. The graphics are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen in a game lately, and the parallax effect with the backgrounds is subtle but immersive. The music is fantastic to listen to, especially when you put on your good headphones. Controls are simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, but like any good game, it’s difficult to master and it’s rather rewarding when you do. I’m not sure how many levels there are right now, but due to the collectible orbs and time limits to beat, there is plenty of reason to go back and replay stages. This is a new favorite of mine for the week, at least for the time being (I know there are some good titles coming out this Thursday).
I highly recommend checking out Shadow Bug if you’re a fan of action-packed puzzle platformers. You can get Shadow Bug on the App Store as a universal download for just $3.99. There are no in-app purchases.