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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Game Shelf: Shadow of Destiny (PSP)

I've actually owned this game for a long time-at least 2 years-and just now finished it. There wasn't any real reason for this; I've just simply gotten a ton of games since getting this one, and it kept getting put back further and further on the to-do list as a result. However, I've finally finished it, so now it's time for a review. This review will be rather quick though, as, in all honesty, it didn't take me that long to play.

Shadow of Destiny is actually a re-release of a PS2 game from 7 years before. It was originally titled Shadow of Memories and released on PS2 (as well as X-Box and PC) in 2002. Anyway, SoD has you starring as Eike Kusch, a seemingly regular Joe living in a very small, fictional town in Germany called Lebensbaum. One day, while walking down a street, Eike comes across a black dog before suddenly being stabbed in the back by an unseen person. Seemingly dead, Eike somehow wakes up in a bizarre room full of clocks, broken statues and bookshelves. After awaking, Eike is told by a disembodied voice that he will be given the chance to not only change his own fate, but the fates of others. The voice (who later appears as an actual "person", known as The Homunculus), informs Eike he will be not only be sent back to the world of the living, but will be given the opportunity to change the world around him using a time-traveling device known as the Z-Pad.

From this point, Homunculus send Eike back into the present world. Eike is awaken in a cafe by a waitress named Dana. When Eike awakens, he awakens just before the moment he was attacked, which will allow him to go back in time and plan a way to avoid death. A chance meeting with a local fortune teller gives Eike information on how he can possibly prevent being stabbed (this fortune teller will be seen again several times, and is a very important character). As the game progresses, Eike must face similar scenarios throughout as someone continue to try and kill him at seemingly every turn, despite the fact that Eike has no clue who or why someone is after him so badly. Eike travels to various parts of the present (in this case, the year 2001), as well as 1979-1980, 1902 and several years in the 1580s. In each time period, Eike encounters various characters who are not only relevant to those in modern-day Lebensbaum, but will also affect how things eventually turn out for Eike, depending on the decisions he makes.

Eike and the fortune teller in present day.
Gameplay is very simple. You, as Eike, go to the various time periods, collect items and encounter other citizens of Lebensbaum at different times in history. There is no combat or anything like that. There are, however, six different endings, as well as two additional endings that are unlocked after unlocking the first six. The last two endings are in the bonus game, which allows you to further explore the backgrounds of several other supporting characters in the game.

The game can be pretty challenging if you don't know what you are doing, especially when you take into the fact that, when you travel back in time, you're only limited so much time to accomplish what you need to and get back to the present. If you are unable to do so, it's game over. Fortunately, thanks to the fact that Lebensbaum is so small-you can see every part of the town (save the interiors of the buildings) in less than five minutes, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Once you get the layout of the town memorized (which is easy to do), things will go along more smoothly. The tricky part is knowing where to go and what to do, as the hints in the game do not give away too much detail. However, there are plenty of detailed walkthroughs for the game available online, should you get stuck.

As I said, the gameplay is very simplistic, and you should have no problem diving right in. The soundtrack is pretty well done, and the graphics are really good, considering that the original game is nine years old. While they probably wouldn't look very good if you played it on PS2 now, they work just fine for the PSP. The voice acting is not the worst I've ever heard, but it's far from the best. The best way I can describe it is it's comically bad. I've seen porns that featured less wooden acting. I kind of like to think of it as Silent Hill meets Troma.

Now, if the story sounds intriguing to you, then you read the review right. The story in the game is very clever and original. You really don't know exactly what's going on until you get to the end of the game, where everything gets tied together very nicely. Having said that, I have a complaint with the length of the game. While the story is engrossing, it will only keep you engrossed for about 90 minutes. The reason? That's about how long it takes you to get through one ending in the game. I kid you not, I had finished the first ending after just an hour and a half of game play. While the amount of endings definitely leaves you with some replayability, each different ending will probably only take you about 90 minutes to finish; less once you have everything remembered, and even less than that if you've created a separate save file from a certain point. If you've done that, you can simply go back to that save file and go through the game making different decisions in order to get the other endings.

Overall, Shadow of Destiny is a decent game, as long as you know what you're getting yourself into. If you're a fan of Silent Hill and/or point-and-click adventure games, you'll like this one. The story is definitely the biggest selling point, and the main reason I'd recommend playing it. However, if you're wanting longer play time or more action, you probably want to look elsewhere.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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