|Shadow of Destiny
Review by Skinny Minnie
If you are an avid adventure story gamer and you don't like this
jewel, then just throw your PS2 away!
Largely ignored by the mainstream gaming press, this fabulous
epic of a game will draw you in with both its warmth and its ever-increasing
tale. There are a total of six different endings, each full play
through the game also opening up new sections of the game and
unveiling more of the complex mystery as it evolves ...
The tale is woven from the third-person perspective, and you
begin it as a frail, blond young man named Eike, just moments
before his untimely demise! Eike is then resurrected after his
apparent murder by an otherworldly figure called Homunculus. Not
remembering who he is or where he came from, Eike is guided in
the use of a mysterious time-travel device called a Digipad, given
to him by Homunculus, which he must use to change his own destiny
and the course of history. Chilled at the thought of being stalked
by an unknown assassin but happy to have the chance to live again,
you as unarmed Eike go back in time prior to his murder to alter
events and foil the attacker. There is a veiled soothsayer (whose
identity you may guess at as you play through the story) that
Eike will come across, who advises him as the story goes along.
Why does he need advice, you ask? Because the friendly neighborhood
lunatic who wants Eike dead doesn't just throw in the towel after
being circumvented in the first level, that's why! All told, in
your first pass through Shadow of Destiny, you will play
through ten levels, in each of which Eike will be killed in some
way. It is your continuing job to dart through time, not only
avoiding these disasters but piecing together the clues of who
Eike's assailant is and preparing for a final confrontation with
said assailant in the final level ... which is truly only the
beginning of the immense story.
As you play through this game the first and subsequent times,
Eike will be "drawn" to different time periods by the
Digipad, all set in the same quaint German town (where everyone
speaks proper English right down through the centuries, of course).
Eike will meet and become entangled with different generations
of families, all with their own problems, situations, and dreams.
Guillotines, abductions, family heirlooms, scientific experiments
gone wrong, the social caste system, and the ever-present Homunculus
are all intertwined with Eike's mysterious background. Eike can
potentially stop another seemingly unrelated murder back in time
or continue the game down another path through history without
being able to do so. Either way, you may eventually find that
this additional murder is more connected to Eike than you had
You can choose to confide in the characters you meet as Eike's
journey unfolds, but be aware that even Eike's very presence back
in time changes history, never mind anything he might tell of
his true situation. You are given many choices throughout this
game, especially as you play it through multiple times. You can
opt to change the story at many given points depending on whether
you decide to confide in or even take certain people along with
you in Eike's travels, or leave them behind in history if you
feel they truly belong there. Be aware that the characters you
meet may have their own machinations as well! Even Eike's "stalker"
may, upon game replays, turn out to be "stalkers." The
mysterious Homunculus certainly appears to have Eike's best interests
at heart, but who on earth is he, and is there a much grander
scheme afoot beyond even Eike's assassins?
The graphics in this game are slightly marred by graininess,
and they do not reach the standard set by some PS2 games. Eike
too is quite stilted in his movements, especially while running.
But if you desire to save Eike's life, as he has no weapons, you
will be seeing a fair amount of this, so get used to it. Even
at that, the town, its people, and its locales are fairly well-rendered,
and the deep storyline will immerse you before long anyway. The
movie cutscenes further the storyline immensely and are some of
the longest and most prolific I have ever watched in a game. They
are funny, heartwarming, and touching, and they will tug at your
heartstrings if you have any buried anywhere at all. You will
also notice, most likely in hindsight, that certain characters
have accidentally given you hints about who Eike really is without
meaning to; they will just make offhanded and seemingly confusing
remarks about him as they meet him when he is traveling through
their time periods.
Although there are a few timed sequences, especially when avoiding
Eike's perpetual murders, much of the game sprawls forth at a
languid pace with plenty of room for adventuring and mystery-solving.
However, Homunculus or the aforementioned soothsayer will give
you periodic time constraints as to when Eike's next murder scene
will unfold, so at different instances you will feel under the
gun to avert the next death in time, but it keeps things interesting
and propels the game forward.
You are only able to save at the end of each successful level,
meaning when you have averted a killer one more time. In the case
of a failure, the levels are not overly long, and you will definitely
want to begin that failed level again, to pick up more clues and
inventory items you may have missed that will enable your success
the next time around.
The background audio is sparse and at many points eerie, hinting
at lurking danger but as well accenting lighthearted moments.
The voice acting is, in Eike's case, flat at times, but perhaps
this lends to a belief in Eike's originally drawing a blank about
whom he is and where he is truly from. On the other hand, many
of the other characters are quite animated and even moody at times,
making this on the whole a well-acted venture.
As in most PS2 games, there aren't many gamepad commands to learn,
and controlling Eike does become second nature quickly. The puzzles
are pretty straightforward but are in fairly good supply, most
requiring inventory items to be used in creative ways to avoid
Eike's deaths. The inventory management system is easy to use,
the only snafu being that you must keep an eye on the power gauge
indicating the amount of energy left to run the Digipad. Without
coming across and picking up little green energy balls lying around
at certain locales throughout the town, your Digipad will not
work if you need to leave a certain period in history in a hurry.
You are also bound to be back to the right period in history in
time to avert Eike's next murder, or he will die no matter where
he is stuck.
The replay value of this game is incredible, unlocking more and
more of a crescendo of intrigue with each replay, not to mention
that on the sixth and final time through you must complete a timed
miniquest to create an elixir of life to save ... not Eike but
his ... oh, I can't tell you! You'll just have to do what you
should have done after reading the first sentence of this review,
and play Shadow of Destiny for yourself!
Release Date: 2001
Four Fat Chicks Links