Freeware Archive: Conquer the Shadow World

It’s in the pose. I mean, the cowboy hat certainly helps, but it’s that slick, laid back pose that really gets the message across. It’s got panache; confidence. This isn’t a cowboy to be messed with. This is not a cowboy I would mess with. That’s mostly true when I’m not playing, however, as Sebastian Janisz’s (click his name’s link, trust me) Conquer the Shadow World is a difficult game where you’ll watch that pixelated hardass die dozens of times before making any meaningful progress.

Conquer the Shadow World is straightforward: you can jump. You can walk on walls and ceilings. You hurt enemies by jumping on their head. You can only be hit once. That’s the full extent of what you can do, and mastering the controls will be key to getting through both the platforming sections (spikes and bullets, yes of course) and boss fights.

ctsw2
A vanquished foe lies at his feet, the cowboy his fate made him meet (I won’t rhyme ever again, I am so sorry).

Things get a little easier by merit of getting an extra life every time you defeat a boss, and even if you’re given a random starting point everytime you begin anew, it won’t take long for you to figure out your bearings. With twenty-five screens split between platforming sections and bossfights, CTSW is a game where once you have the skills to beat it, success will take you less than twenty minutes, but getting good enough that you manage to do all sections in one go is where the time will add up.

Boss fights are the game’s true joy, however, as each is as unique as a fingerprint: from a bouncing ball that breaks into smaller ones as you kill it to a spiraling wheel of death that requires you to hit all nodes before defeating it, they’re all designed so that you don’t necessarily need to fail them to understand how to defeat them, though you likely will. If you’re not one to shy from a challenge or a platformer, CTSW might just be your thing – gratis, too.

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