Review by Randomer

"A beautiful and engrossing game that has gone overlooked for too long"

Introduction:
Shadow of Memories (Destiny in the USA) is an early PS2 game that was also released on the PC around a year later. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful and amazing adventure games of its time, of course now the ideas and graphics are dated and the game has been all but forgotten, however I believe that this game deserves much more recognition than it got.

The Story:
At 2:30 pm on the 4th April 2001 a man named Eike Kusch, a youthful and mild mannered man, walks out of a cafe and down the quiet streets of a small German town called Lebensbaum. He is murdered several moments later. Waking up in a strange limbo a mysterious voice grants him time travel powers to change his fate, from then on Eike must outwit death many times in just one day and uncover the truth behind it all by travelling through 4 different periods between 400 years of history. Who is involved? Why? All will be revealed to you.

I do not want to reveal too much of the plot but this game shows an alternative view to the idea that we often see in modern cinema where the main character goes back in time and messes things up. This game allows you to change things for the better, make and break careers, spark lifelong loves and perhaps even save lives. This is a game that gives an aspect on love and morality that is never seen enough in video gaming.

Gameplay:
This game revolves around the concept of time travel, using your Digipad you are able to travel to areas in the past where events that are related to you are taking place, whilst you are in the past you must be careful as if you go past the “fated hour” (the time at which you are killed) then you are erased from history. This is what gives the game its edge, whilst you are never very pressed for time, it always lingers in the back of your mind giving this often relaxing game its tension.

You must travel around the small town on foot, talking to people and gathering clues, the levels start off as basic Talk to A, go to B and do C affairs but the later levels often require tactical thinking and you may die several times at the hands of your unknown assailant before you perfect a method of survival. Sometimes dying in this game is more fun than staying alive. To travel through time you need energy crystals that are dotted around the town, and if you end up getting stuck you have an ally in the mysterious fortune teller who can tell you what time you are going to die at and hints at preventing it. The controls are a simple and effective direct control, no point and click here and you do not even need a mouse for this game.

This game is however lacking in action, it is not lacking in depth but action. Despite racing against the clock you often have plenty of time to stroll about a bit and take in the sights. The few scenes that do have action (fires, fights and accidents) you do not have control over. This is not a game for action junkies and they should avoid this title. Of course this game is not a particularly difficult game there are no typical style point and click puzzles, instead the puzzles are based upon survival, working out the cause of your death and a way to remove that cause within the allotted time, a truly intuitive form of puzzle.

Graphics:
Dated now, but for their day they were amazing, and the PC has the advantage over the PS2 with multiple shadows and higher resolutions, the special effects used in the game are visually improved than the console versions. The characters look very detailed but the town can sometimes look bland compared to the detailed interior locations, where there is lavish décor and it feels almost real. The draw distance in this game can be poor however and there is a distinct possibility of pop-up if you do not have a decent system (by decent that's 32mb V-Ram and 1 GHz processor). I think if anyone playing this is willing to look past the dated graphics they can still enjoy this adventure for what its worth.

Sound:
This game has full voice acting however some of it is very poor, despite the setting of this game being a German town, none of the characters have appropriate accents instead there is the generic cheap voice actor in many of the characters. However that does not mean that this game is completely without vocal talent, the characters of Mr Eckart and Hugo particularly stand out as quality vocal work. The sound effects in this game are equally generic and often Eike's repetitive “tip-tap, tip-tap” noise when he walks along the streets gets annoying very quickly so often it is a good idea to turn the SFX down a bit.

The music however is very good, the game has period music from rough violin music when death is near to soft jazz when your character relaxes in the bar. There is some amazing distorted guitar music giving the game a twisted and surreal feel when needed, and also full orchestral grandeur which shows that the developers clearly knew the importance of music and implemented it well.

Replay Value:
This game has a very high replay value because it has 6 very different endings and 2 secret ones. By making certain key decisions in the game you change the course of the final chapters and thus the result of the game, this raises the questions that fans today still ask, what was the real ending? Who died? Who survived? But it is almost a guarantee that each person will find an ending they like and they think is appropriate and stick with that. This game will take about 6 hours to complete the first time and further endings will add much more time onto that.

Buy or Rent:
If you have a console and are not an adventure fan I suggest renting it, its length means that you should have enough time to unlock one or two endings and this game should be cheap enough to be worth buying just to get those last endings and the secret ones. If you are an adventure fan and don't have this then go out and hunt a copy down on console or PC, now that the next generation is long since underway this game should be lingering in bargain bins across the world.

Conclusion:
I have chosen to give this game 10/10. It may be slow burning and lacking in action but provided players are aware of this it should lose no points and amongst its genre it is truly a diamond of a game that has gone unnoticed. To give notice to other games similar like this (if you enjoyed this then you will like these…) Dreamfall: The Longest Journey and Broken Sword 3 seem more action based alternatives. For the more passive gamer then the Point and Click adventure games still being made should suffice, there are tons of good titles being made every year, keeping this genre of more relaxed and intuitive games alive.

On a final note I'm sure that if I could go back in time I would and buy everyone I know a copy of this amazing game.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/29/07

Game Release: Shadow of Memories (EU, 02/14/03)


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