IGN Review of Shadow of Destiny
I have a lot of memories of the Chicagoland Electronics Boutique I frequented, but one of my fondest involves Shadow of Destiny, an adventure game that came to the PlayStation 2 in March of 2001. With my beautiful PS2 a mere five months old, Shadow of Destiny's time traveling tale offered a bunch of different endings that drew me in and led to me preordering the game. I played through every ending, loved it, and eventually traded it back in to the same EB I bought it from months later. When I handed the copy to the clerk, he chuckled and said that the store had only ordered two copies of Shadow of Destiny.
Outside of me, no one else bought the game.
Now, Konami is offering PSP players a chance to rectify the mistake so many gamers in Illinois made because Shadow of Destiny is now on the PSP. This is an exact port of the game I was gaga for nine years ago -- which is both good and bad. On the one hand, I wasn't alone in loving the original game (IGN gave the game an 8.5), but on the other hand, this is a PS2 game from nine years ago and it shows.
In Shadow of Destiny, you'll play as Eike, a jacket-wearing guy who keeps getting stabbed to death. Yup, as soon as you start the game, Eike catches a blade to the back, but instead of going to the great beyond, he ends up in a weird purgatory with a being known as Homunculus. This strange dude gives Eike a Z-pad that allows him to travel through time to stop his own death. Of course stopping the initial stabbing doesn't really stop the killer -- it just makes the murderer change tactics -- so you need to keep on turning back the clock to stop the ever-impending death. As you do, you'll find out that there's a lot more to Eike's story and you'll begin going way, way back in time to get the full tale.
Stabbings? Time travel? Murderers? Sounds like an amazing action game, right? Nope, Shadow of Destiny is nothing like the shooters of today. This is an adventure game; you walk around, talk to people, and use the occasional item from your inventory to block a knife blow in a cutscene or convince a character to do what you want. There are scenes of action -- Eike trying to save an old man in a fire, the aforementioned murders, and so on -- but when you're in control, you're just moving Eike around the world and choosing to speak to people.
Sound boring? Well, back in the day, it was the greatest thing these eyes had ever seen, but now, it has a bit of trouble holding up. Yes, Shadow of Destiny still has all of its amazing endings and you can beat certain conundrums a number of ways, but the gameplay itself is a bit lacking.
Most of the missions revolve around you wandering around the European city of Lebensbaum, and besides being rather small, the town's pretty empty. A walled city, Lebensbaum's streets echo with your lonely footsteps and every building looks the same. When you need to gather people in the town square, you just approach the five or so people wandering the deserted streets and talk to them until they agreed to go there.
You generally have no control over what Eike says -- in fact, he usually doesn't say anything. You'll just tap X by a person and the camera will load a scene of them staring at the screen and answering whatever silent question Eike asked. This can be infuriating when you run into a character looking for another character and Eike for some reason won't tell the first person where the second person is.
Even if you had no idea what to do -- Eike has a journal in his inventory that gives you clues as to your next task and the time travel doodad glows when it needs to be used -- there are only 10 or so places you can go inside of in the city, so scoping everything out shouldn't be that tough. This is good, because there's really no hand holding in Shadow of Destiny. You start the game, die, and are tossed into the full experience. The first mission is the hardest because you're not sure quite what to do and there's no real tutorial to speak of. However, once you see what Konami's driving at, the tasks at hand won't be that hard unless you're trying to access some of the alternate endings.
Technically, the game's the same game as the 9-year-old PS2 outing, so the graphics aren't that detailed, the textures are bland, there's the same music track playing over and over, and the load times are less than impressive. The voice work is pretty good for the main characters, but the side folks (especially kids) can be annoying and hokey.
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