Shadow of the Beast II finds the hero in half-beast form, wandering the lands of Karamoon in search of his kidnapped sister. She had been taken away from her mother's cottage by the dragon-form of the Beast Mage, Zelek, servant to Maletoth. Along the way, Aarbron befriends the wise dragon Barloom and must defeat the evil dragon Ishran. Tree Pygmies in the forest and the goblins in the Crystal Caverns serve as interactive, complicated foes. For example, a bottle of booze picked up at the Karamoon oasis must be given to the goblin jailer to free Aarbron from his cell. Only after Aarbron gives the old man his ring and his parchment does he obtain a spell powerful enough to harm Zelek.
The game initially received praise for its high level cosmetics, although graphically inferior to the first game lacking the groundbreaking multi-layer paralax scrolling, it still provided much eye candy for the player and Tim Wright's soundtrack succeeded in creating a grim and sinister atmosphere, particularly the emotional 'death scene' music with its synth layer and sampled electric guitar melody which created a stunning tragic mood. According to Tim Wright, that melody was derived from a short cue heard in an episode of Miami Vice.
The game itself is very difficult, and with no ability for the player to continue if killed, many felt that Psygnosis had neglected to consider the players who wanted it to be easier. For example, in several of the game's puzzles the player only received one attempt at solving it. This meant that if the player got the puzzle wrong, then he or she had to restart from the very beginning of the game. Another complaint was that the game was programmed in such a way as to allow players to get ahead of themselves by entering certain areas of the game without having first obtained the necessary equipment beforehand. Thus, many players believed they had no option but to cheat in order to see more than a fraction of it, by asking the first Pygmy to his right about "ten pints".
As in the first game, the cover art for Shadow of the Beast II was created by Roger Dean and the game was packaged with a promotional black T-Shirt that featured Dean's artwork (although this is a basic promo pack that we have listed here that contains just the game).