The gameplay is very slow and deliberate, but still very engaging. Basically, the game is made up of a series of rooms in a castle. In each room, there are possibly a number of things one can interact with. One does this by making an action choice from a menu, such as ďtake,Ē and then moving a cursor onto the object in the room that one wants to interact with, such as a gem on the ground. Doing so would take the gem from the ground and put it into oneís inventory. From there, one might be able to use it later to active a secret lock to open a door. Or, of course, it mightíve just been a useless stone with no point to it. Most objects do have a use, but not all do. Itís up to you to find everything you can, figure out what uses they might have, and to progress your way through the castle.
Everything in the game is done by selecting an action from a list of choices, and then something on which to do it. For instance, to move from one room to another, one would select ďmoveĒ from the menu and click on an open door, which would then move you through the door into the next room. Itís not the quickest or most intuitive thing in the world, but, it works well enough and without much problem.
Each room you enter is more or less a static image, with the exception of a few items that can be manipulated for minor changes. You only get one view of each room, and thereís no moving around within the room. So, there wasnít too much in the way of variety for graphics that needed to be done. All of the rooms, however, are modeled quite intricately, and of what there is in the way of graphics, it does all look very nice.
In general, thereís just one constant background music that plays through the entire game, although there are a few rooms where thereís a different music that plays due to certain circumstances. The main background music fits the game excellently however, a deep, thoughtful music as you delve your way into this mysterious castle.
Youíre basically dropped off into the middle of the story. You start off at the door to the castle, with it explaining what lead up to this point in a series of messages. A wizard sent you here, telling you that your quest lies within the castle. That you, as the last in the line of kings, must find and destroy the warlock lord within the castle. So, with that, you make your way into the castle to fulfill your quest. As you make your way through the castle, you pick up bits and pieces of a much larger world and story around you. Shadowgate has a very rich world, and draws you into it well.
Much of Shadowgate is built on finding items, and figuring out where theyíre used. Some of the item uses are a bit vague, requiring a bit of simple trial and error at times. Once youíve gone through the game, of course, you now know all the answers to the puzzles, and there isnít any specific reason to go through the game again, no sidequests or alternate endings or anything along those lines. Itís still a very fun game to play through though, and, as one isnít always going to have a photographic memory of the puzzle answers, there is still some figuring out to do when going through the game another time.
Again, while it isnít the type of game thatís going to appeal to everyone, if you donít mind a slower-paced game which requires a large amount of exploring and thinking, this is a great game. Very fun to play through, explore, and interact with, and will keep pulling you back into its world.