Shadowgate is an adventure game where the player must travel through Castle Shadowgate solving its riddles and puzzles to succeed whilst avoiding numerous perils.


The entrance to Castle Shadowgate in the NES version.
The entrance to Castle Shadowgate in the NES version.

Shadowgate is a 1987 point-and-click adventure game originally released for the Mac by ICOM Simulations and is part of the MacVenture series. It has been ported to a variety of platforms including the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. The player takes control of a relatively faceless character who must traverse through the castle avoiding many obstacles and choosing the right course of action to proceed. The game is extremely linear and usually there is only one correct solution to every puzzle with all other solutions leading to the player's demise or an equally dire consequence. The player is required to carry a flaming torch at all times to illuminate the path ahead. If the torch dies, the player must light another as soon as possible or an unfortunate end will be met. The torches also act as a time-limiter, with only a certain number of torches in the game the player must reach the conclusion before all the torches have expired.

A lot of items in the game can be used in many ways, for example, it is possible to go through the item menu screen and tell the game to use the flaming torch on the player, where upon the game will inform the player that they have received a nasty burn, and eventually burn themselves to death if repeated. The player could even thrust an arrow into his chest and commit suicide in that manner.


The player is a faceless character who is only described in the game as the "last of a great line of hero-kings". He must attempt to stop the Warlock Lord from releasing the Behemoth from Hell.


One of the many death messages in the game.
One of the many death messages in the game.

The game is a "point-and-click" adventure title that revolves around the player looking at a usually static background and scanning it for clues, possible threats and the path ahead. The player can interact with many items of interest in a lot of scenes, attempting different things, and the game relaying the outcome through its frank and often hilarious text window. The player can pick up a good deal of items on their travels, many of which will be imperative if they are to succeed in their goals. The game features many memorable foes, such as the Wraith the player encounters early in the game and the fire-breathing Dragon later down the line.

Death is a very, very common thing in Shadowgate. If the player died at a point they can retrace their steps and attempt to solve the puzzle differently, and if they succeed they can proceed, but would only progress so far before being smote again and retracing their steps once more. The game is as much about thinking intelligently about solutions as it is just running in and trying everything one at a time until the correct method is used. There are a few instances where there are multiple solutions to a given problem, but these are few and far between.

Shadowgate has many items that are used to solve puzzles in the game. Some of the items that appear to be normal are used in ways most people would never think of. Such as the war hammer that the player can't actually use to attack any enemies but is used to open secret portals. Some items, like the helmet or human bone, can be picked up but have no use whatsoever in the game except to clutter the inventory. Most items only have one use and are never used again. There are only a few items that can be used more than once, but even then the most they are used is twice. There are around 40 items in the game that all need to be used to solve a specific puzzle. Usually there is no hints when to use an item, which leads to a lot of guessing and trial and error to discover when each item needs to be used.


Initially intended to be a 25th anniversary celebration, a remake was confirmed to be in production for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android for release in 2013. Footage, art direction, and remixed music have been shown off at the game's Kickstarter. Some puzzles are new or reworked, and all of the components, including graphics and script, are being completely overhauled. The game's music is based on the much-acclaimed NES version's soundtrack. Zojoi, the company behind this new version, is made up of designers that worked on the original MacVentures version.