Developed by: KCET
Platform: PC, Xbox, PS2
Rating: ESRB T (US), ELSPA 11+ (EU)
Original release date: 6 March 2001
SoS mission date: 19 January 2007
Where to get it: This game is known as Shadow of Memories in Europe and Shadow of Destiny in the US. It is a little difficult to find these days, so it may be worth checking eBay for used copies.
Original Briefing by Angry_Jedi (19/01/2007)
Morning chaps, and welcome to 2007. We have a fine Tour of Duty planned for all you bally fine soldiers this year, so suit up and let's get ready for your first assignment, eh what?
European intelligence has indicated some sort of temporal disturbance emanating from somewhere in Germany. We believe it may be something to do with this man:
We understand this gentleman's name is Eike Kusch. He has no known family and has no memory of his parents. Close acquaintances include a museum proprietor known as Mr. Eckart.
The curious thing about this case is that Eike died on 04/08/2001. However, there is some confusion over his death, due largely to some evident interfering with the temporal spectrum around this point. We are sending you back in time to investigate this disturbance and, if necessary, to assist Eike with whatever happened to him in order to "put things right", as it were. We believe that Eike is supposed to survive beyond the time when he did, as he evidently has a greater role to play.
Lil' Private Timmy has been researching the effects of time travel in the laboratory and has given us this diagram to assist with understanding the situation, drawn on paper then covered in tea and put in the microwave to "make it look old, like wot we lernd in skool", he claims.
However, frankly I feel some form of explanation is in order. In figure 1 (right), we see a gentleman tripping over a rock, banging his head on the floor and dying. Unfortunate, I am sure you will agree. However, through the medium of time travel, in figure 2, we see an alternative version of the same gentleman travelling back in time to before he arrived at the scene and removing the rock, thereby allowing himself in figure 3 to proceed safely without danger of death.
There are a number of matters to consider when dealing with time travel, so pay close attention:
• Don't shag your own great-grandmother, for heaven's sake.
• Similarly, don't kill your own great-grandmother, for heaven's sake.
• Ditto both for great-grandfathers, and indeed all ancestors.
• If you say something to someone and you suddenly get a headache and think it's "really important", it may well affect how everything turns out in the end, so choose carefully.
• Don't touch yourself. Not only is it an affront to the Lord to spill one's seed on the ground, but if you touch your past self then frankly you'll disappear into a void, never to return.
Similarly, don't die when you're out of your own time. And if you are supposed to die in your own time, make sure you're there when it happens for continuity's sake.
You will be issued with the following equipment for this assignment:
• Clothing: Standard issue black turtleneck sweater, green-blue jeans (extra long) and extra-tight green leather jacket.
• Equipment: 1 x Digipad, used for time travel
• 1 large packet of headache pills
All findings and intelligence to be reported here. New recruits should report to Squadron HQ to be issued with equipment and invested into the ranks of the Squad.
I hope you're ready, ladies and gentlemen, because it's chocks away for the beginning of the 2007 Tour of Shame! Good luck!
Squad Archivist Report
Shadow of Destiny/Memories (hereafter referred to as just “Shadow” for simplicity’s sake) is a strange one. Taking obvious influences from the world of narrative-heavy, interaction-lite adventure games and interactive movies where the whole point of the experience was to enjoy the ride rather than look at what revolutionary new features it was adding to the gameplay mix, Shadow sees you controlling the rather effeminate-looking (and long-legged) Eike on his quest to stop himself being murdered brutally at the outset of each chapter.
Beige commented that the whole game played out like a bizarre lovechild of Groundhog Day and Final Destination. At the start of every chapter, you die. There’s no avoiding it. But what this does is provide you with your “mission objective”, if you like - working out firstly how you are being killed and secondly how to avoid it. As Beige put it:
“Infinite Lives never seemed so WEIRD. Mario, he just kind of respawns at the beginning again... you don't really think about it. What Shadows does is take that scene we never see where Mario has to take his toboggan and trudge up back to the beginning of World 1-1, and makes a whole damn game out of it.”
Feenwager also commented on the seeming lack of interactivity in the game:
“First things first, we're really stretching the boundaries of what can be called a 'game' here, aren't we? You do so very little in between long stretches of non-interactivity. But, somehow...it works in this context. Even with the controller on my lap for so long, I'm not tuning out. I think having the knowledge that there is a grand plan here, and it's worth paying attention helps. I still have no clue what the freak is going on, but I care enough to find out.”
The general consensus amongst the Squad was that while the “gameplay” (or “ludology” as Beige put it) was a little lacking, because the narrative of the game was so compelling, it made up for that. Beige cited the example of the fact he was also playing Lost Planet and Super Mario Sunshine at the time, and commented that going back to a narrative-heavy game was like returning to an old friend.
Bowley, conversely, had some things to say about the protagonist:
“Yea, Eike? Not my favorite protagonist either. I don't like Eike, I don't wanna be like Eike. It wasn't just that he was an effeminate rack victim, he just sucked, man. Having long legs doesn't necessarily make you uncool. I mean, Spike Spiegel managed to pull that one off. I blame the English dubbing. Maybe if he had some ninja Japanese voice he would have been cooler, especially since in English he was the worst liar ever.
Hugo: "Hey what was that thing that just fell out of your pocket"
Eike: "What? Oh...uhh (awkward long pause)... that's not important right now."
Then he had the gumption to act surprised when someone saw through his flimsy bullshit.
Hugo: "Hey what was that thing that just fell out of your pocket"
Anyone else: "Oh that? That's my little ANNOYING KID DESTROYER. BEAT IT."”
Papapishu, not having played the game at the point of this discussion, commented thus, along the same lines:
“I was walking with one of my gamer friends, and I mentioned what the squad is playing. He actually told me that his first year of collage, he and his friends all marathoned through SOM together.
"It has one of the most hillarious english dubs ever, and it became a source of a ton of inside jokes for all of my friends. If you ever see someone come up to me, shout "THE WATCHMAKER!" and then see me start laughing uncontrollably, then it's a Shadow of Memories reference."
I hope that makes sense to you.”
It was generally accepted that the presentation, particularly the voice acting, was far from top-notch, though Bowley and Angry_Jedi both drew particular attention to the soundtrack, with Angry_Jedi noting that the standard “field” music had an atonal feel to it that was very different from many other games out there, while Bowley commented:
“(Read all the SoS Shadow of Destiny thoughts to "The Letter" by Kevin Saville (from the SoD soundtrack)
This meandering piano piece is probably one of the best tracks in the game... and I don't even remember it playing.
....Or I suppose you could listen to "Bar 2", by the same guy, if you want that Dave Brubeck jazzy feel. Which kind of makes me think of SoS meeting in some upscale bar, conversing relaxingly about our various run-throughs of the game over some ecto cooler and hard liquor. Someone stop Beige, he's heading for the Karaoke again.
Oh, and while I'm on the subject of the music, this game's music wasn't anything to write home about. Most of the time it was weird, some of the time it was trying to be emotional and coming off forced, and the rest of the time I didn't even hear it! I like my music to be a big part of the experience. That doesn't mean it has to be bombastic, but it does need to be important”
So the game, while not perfect, was certainly an interesting experience. Even RedSwirl jumped in with enthusiasm, despite his usual distaste for cutscene-laden games:
“In the end, yeah, this is pretty much exactly the kind of game I don't want to have to "play". "RedSwirl Killer Coctail" was right. I watched cutscenes just as much (if not more) than I actually played the damn game.
But for some reason, I found myself compelled to motor straight through this thing, and I can still definitely see myself playing back through it a couple more times.
Yes the graphics could probably have been run on Dreamcast, the gameplay is as rudimentary as you can get for an adventure game, and as I said you don't really play more than you "walk to the next cutscnee," but I think this game's interesting mystery/time travel storyline mixed with it's short length makes it something that I know I can really get into without making a long drawn-out commitment. I wanted to see what was going to happen next becuase I knew this wasn't going to be a 40 or even 20-hour game.
Oh, and Eike looks like a girl.”
Shadow of Destiny? Well worth checking out, if only for the sheer audacity of its concept. I’ll leave you with some closing words from Beige:
“HUGE points for the audacity of concept though, and for the sheer balls that it takes to make a game that plays through fucking crazily six different ways. They promised that your actions will affect the ultimate outcomes in this game, and by god if they didn't actually deliver on that promise -- CRAZILY sure -- but they delivered. Totally weird and random by the end of things... but your actions DO affect things in the time continuum more than any other game I could easily name, except maybe Indigo Prophecenheit. Even small things, like the act of giving a kitten to someone across dimensions have weird little butterfly effect ripples, and that part is really kinda neat.
The artistic vision that goes into something like this is pretty impressive. I'd like to see the script... it must be laid out like a giant damn spiderweb that branches off in about six different directions at once. There's a full length GAME in there... they've just folded it in on itself and made something totally off-the wall.
A game? Hmm... don't know. This is one of those products that just illustrates just how solidly we have become entrenched into our own paradigms and preconceptions about what a 'video game is' in this next-gen world. There is NO CHANCE in hell that something like Shadows of Destiny would exist on an Xbox 360. Not a chance. The concept is too weird, too cerebral by far. There's not an ounce of target marketing in there. There's no potential for mass market sales. What we have here is a purely artistic sort of experiment -- something that was obviously made by somebody with a very strong vision and a bit of development money thrown their way by Konami. Even though mostly your activities constitute watching things and thinking about their implications, Shadows of Destiny is totally worth playing. There's no visceral gut reflex or muzzle flash... no skill involved. Just kind of an art-film aesthetic and a product that boils down in the end to something akin to a crazy jam poetry session. Was it worthwhile? Hell, sure... even if only as a crazy counterpoint to push your gaming preconceptions over the parapet of their comfort zone.”