Shadow of Destiny – PS2 – Review

In most games when you die,
the game is over.  In Konami’s™ newest adventure game, “Shadow of
Destiny,” it happens to be just opposite of this typical game paradigm. 
I know it’s hard to believe at first, but in this game when you die, the
game has just begun.

It is 02:30PM on 04.08.2001;
a young man named Eike Kusch has just unexpectedly lost his life due to
the actions of an unknown assailant.  He then wakes up in a strange
environment, not knowing whether he’s actually dead or not.  Suddenly,
he is startled by a mysterious voice asking him “How does it feel to be
dead…Eike?”  The voice, which belongs to a character named Homunculus,
then tells him that he can offer some help, that is, if Eike has the will
to attempt to somehow reverse his own fate.  Eike thinks that this
proposal must be too good to be true and that he would probably be selling
his soul to the devil if he took Homunculus (who he thinks is the devil)
up on the offer.  Homunculus assures him that he just wants to help
him out and that if he doesn’t attempt to change his own fate, he will
simply die immediately.  Eike realizes that Humunculus must not be
the devil and decides to go for it, since he wasn’t at all ready to die. 
Humunculus then gives Eike some of his time-shifting powers in the form
of a device called a “digipad.” This device allows him to time travel in
order to remove the underlying cause of his death and ultimately change
his destiny.  This is your task; you, Eike Kusch, must change the
course of history and find a way to prevent your own death.  Confused,
you wake up in a restaurant, not sure if the experience was real or not,
but then find the digipad and the fateful adventure begins.

The game consists of ten
chapters in which you must avoid each mortal danger you face, in order
change your fate.  If time expires before you complete your objective,
you will be killed in accordance to your fate. 
When this does happen, you will return to the strange setting from the
beginning of the game where Homunculus will give you hints for survival. 
This actually isn’t entirely a bad thing because when you are killed you
then know what you will have to avoid or change when you go back in time
to prevent your death.  If however the time expires while you’re moving
back in time, you will be thrown into a “time limbo” and the game will
be over.  Beware; another way to lose the game is by coming in contact
with yourself while traveling back in time.

The setting throughout the
ten chapters is a uniquely designed European town.  This is a town
that you’ll undoubtedly get to know very well as the game progresses. 
In order to do so, you can take a look at the multiple maps of the town
(made in different years), which are conveniently kept in your item inventory. 
In this town you will visit many different locations and converse
with many different people in order to solve puzzles and find clues to
stop the killer.

I was disappointed by the
fact that you’re very rarely allowed to choose what Eike says to the various
people he comes in contact with.  Instead they typically tell you
almost exactly what you need to know and this makes the game, for the most
part, pretty easy.  If they don’t tell you what you want to know,
sometimes the key is to be persistent.  By interacting with the same
character multiple times, you can often get a hint regarding what to do
next, if necessary.  The clues that Konami™ intended to be subtle
just aren’t subtle enough, and this also contributes to the low difficulty
level of this game.  For example, the digipad signals for you to change
times by blinking in your pocket.  This notification, and others like
it make it relatively simple to know what to do next.

This game is a relatively
short play, as it can easily be finished in one day.  Even though
Konami™ claims that there are ten “massive” chapters; don’t be fooled,
they aren’t “massive” in any sense.  After you complete the game,
you have the ability to replay it in order to reveal new scenarios and
to experience the numerous different endings.  In doing so, you will
finally be able to recognize the complex relationship between the different
time periods that you have visited.

Admittedly, this game is
built over a fairly unique storyline and it does allow for a very original
adventure gaming experience.  Though there’s just something about
the fact that the main character dies over and over again that gets kind
of annoying.  I know this is the whole point of the game, but this
unfortunate aspect causes the game to be a little on the monotonous side. 
It’s still a relatively fun game, but there’s not enough variability in
the game play to make this one a classic in the adventure genre. 
Although it seems that it may temporarily beat out all of its competitors
in the console market.

A large part of “Shadow of
Destiny” is made up of video sequences that portray events pertaining to
your survival.  You are able to skip video events by pushing the circle
button, if and only if you have previously viewed them (before you died).
There are a lot of videos that seem pointless, but don’t be fooled. 
Most of the details that appear to be irrelevant are important later in
the game.

The graphics are impressive,
but they could use some texture refinement among other things.  The
video seems dark and this often makes objects in the distance almost impossible
to see.  Unlike many games, the graphical quality of the actual game
play is of the same quality of the various video sequences.  Some
of the animation isn’t as smooth as it could be, but this doesn’t detract
much from the overall presentation.  All the different environments
are filled with much impressive detail, but unfortunately you cannot interact
with the majority of the objects.   After playing “The Bouncer,”
the ante has been upped, and I’ve come to expect outstanding graphical
quality from PS2 games that come on DVD-Rom, as “Shadow of Destiny” does. 
Surprisingly, all the detailed scenes load up pretty quickly, so there’s
not much waiting around for the next sequence.

The music is of orchestral
nature, which allows for dramatic contrasts and typical mood heightening
characteristics.  The footsteps are cool, but if I can be picky for
just a moment, they seem a little too loud and get quite annoying (since
you’re walking around throughout the whole game).  The sound of them
does change when you get on different surfaces, and at this point most
gamers have come to expect such minor details to be present.  I can’t
complain about any of the other sound effects, they were all extremely
well done.  The voice-overs are up to par and seem to be as accurate
as all other current games with frequent character dialog in them. 
A couple of the characters’ voices were ridiculously annoying and these
characters happened to speak for long periods of time.  Just have
some aspirin on hand and you’ll be good to go.  Well, maybe they’re
not quite that bad, but Konami™ could have picked some better voice “actors”
for these particular parts.

Controls are simple and straightforward. 
The analog stick allows for precise movement, and by tilting it more Eike
goes from running to walking.  Unfortunately I cannot say the same
for the digital pad, as it isn’t pressure sensitive.

This definitely isn’t a game
for those who are expecting a lot of action.  “Shadow of Destiny”
is a typical third person adventure game, which is fueled by a very original
storyline.  You must collect both items and information in order to
piece together the various puzzles, which will control your destiny. 
It’s all or nothing, there’s no turning back.  Are you up for this
fateful challenge?

This game is Rated “T” for
Teen and contains animated violence.  It requires 107KB on a PS2 memory


Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8.0

A large portion of the game consists
of observing the various narrated video sequences.  The actual game
play is typical of any adventure game, a little on the slow side.

Graphics: 8.5

Overall, the graphics were very well
done; from the environmental detail to the unique characters, you’ll surely
be impressed.  If you’ve been spoiled by The Bouncer’s graphics, then
you might be a little disappointed, but you have to realize that all games
just can’t look that good!

Sound: 9.0

Aside from the few annoying, ear-piercing
voices, the sound is great.  Realistic sound effects are present throughout
and the music fits in perfectly in every situation.

Difficulty: 6.5

It takes a little while
to get the hang of it this game, but once you do, you’re likely to find
this one a little on the easy side.

Concept: 8.0

The storyline is unique and well thought
out, but could use a little spice here and there (for the purpose of variability).

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 8.0