Shadow Bug is a platformer developed by Muro Studios. It is set in a world where the evil corporations are polluting the forests and our hero Shadow Bug must run, climb and slash through hordes of enemies to take back his home and rescue the forest. This is done by slicing through enemies to reach out of reach areas and complete puzzles. The unique thing about Shadow Bug is that he can’t jump but he can teleport to enemies on screen and slice them instead.
Every stage features beautiful backgrounds and scenery. The game slowly goes from luscious forests with enemy creatures to toxic sewers with mutated fish and turrets to a city with robots and lasers. Every stage offers something new with the art style and the game moves swiftly enough so you don’t end up seeing the same scenery over and over again.
The music in this game is a bit forgettable and a lot of the game doesn’t have any music, mostly just the boss fights and running away sections. It usually just sounds like stock action music but it does the job well enough just not good enough for me to recommend picking up the soundtrack.
Now before discussing the gameplay, it is important to note that I played on PC with a mouse and keyboard. The game is also available on IOS and Android along with the Nintendo Switch. This is important because as already stated this game requires you to slice through enemies to move using your cursor to do so. This is the only platformer I’ve played where using a mouse and keyboard is superior to a controller so playing on a Nintendo Switch I imagine would be pretty hard with the timing based slices you must do.
The gameplay, for the most part, is solid and the level design incorporates a lot of different ideas and most of them don’t overstay their welcome. In one level Shadow Bug will be guiding an enemy soldier through the level to the end of the stage so that he can slice through him to reach there, in another he has to outrun a mutated fish by quickly slicing through enemies to escape. However, there are a few big mistakes in this Shadow Bug that can’t be ignored. After beating the second to last boss Shadow Bug has a massive difficulty spike, the games short fast-paced levels turn into five minutes of a single mechanic being repeated over and over again.
A perfect example of this is the second to last level. Now obviously the game would get harder the more it went on and the second to last level should be challenging but this level is just annoying. You have to avoid lasers while running through a tunnel, Simple enough. But this level just goes on and on and it is pretty hard to tell from which direction the next laser will come and if you die you go all the way back. This level has no checkpoints and is six minutes long but it feels like 20. Even the final boss himself suffers from this issue. It starts off with Shadow Bug having to destroy pods to awake him while four lasers chase him. But once again if you die you must go all the way back to this stage even if you are the end. In my play session, I actually ended up beating the boss than a split second before he started dying I got hit by a projectile and was sent all the way back. 80% of this game is fantastic but these final levels really tested my patience.
All in all, this is a great little game held back by difficulty spikes and its controls on other platforms. This game has amassed a speedrunning community who really takes this games unique mechanics to the extreme.