SHADOW OF DESTINY / Konami / Sony PSP
 
 
First, this is a port of what was a launch title for the PS2 a decade ago, so here's the changes - fully redone voice acting (appears to mostly be with the original actors, just read more competently), a few very minor optional subquests added, menu and various art tweaks to suit the PSP better, and a "cutscene viewer" that's unlocked when you beat the game.

If main character Eike "O.G." Kusch looks awfully Raiden-like to you, there's good reason for that; little did we know at the time, but Shadow of Destiny (Shadow of Memories for our PAL territories buds) was an early test run for the Metal Gear Solid 2 engine. No sneaking or shooting here though ... in fact not much actual gameplay at all, this is instead an almost PC-like adventure game in which you spend most of the playtime watching cutscenes.

Eike is a university student in Germany who appears to be on a holiday break or somesuch ... sadly his vacation is cut short by some mysterious jackoff murdering him by stabbing him in the back. It's a little perplexing as Eike is a nobody with no enemies ... it gets even more confusing when some sort of supernatural entity called Homonculus pulls him into a spirit world, gives him a limited ability to travel through time, and tells him he can prevent his own death by using it judiciously. So off we go with that then.

The game is divided into eight chapters; you spend the first chapter figuring out how to prevent the stabbing, then generally in each new chapter, there's a new form of murder that you have to figure out how to stop. Eike does this in the most simplistic and blunt way possible; rather than track down the murderer or ascertain their motivations, Eike simply alters the environment to make it impossible for his latest murder to occur. For example, to prevent the stabbing in the town square, Eike has to get a performer there and draw a crowd at the time of his stabbing, so that he's surrounded by people. For a game about time travel, this leads to a fairly linear and confining structure. The PSP has added some little side-quests and bonus stuff to do, but mostly you're just bull-rushing straight to the solution to stopping each killing, which is usually just handed to you by the game, and the story unfolds in automatic cut-scenes along the way.

What's good about this game is that it's actually an interesting concept, and decently written; it's also one of the few games with multiple endings that actually gives you good incentive to see them all, as you'll never put the story (which gets quite complex by the end) completely together without seeing all of them.

What's bad about the game is that the actual process of getting to the more complex and enjoyable bits of the story is riddled with standard poor adventure game design; trial-and-error and "gotcha" puzzles. On the whole the game is pretty easy, but the few challenging moments are only challenging because the design is obtuse and without reason, expecting you to just sort of run around trying shit until you hit upon the way to unravel the designer's moon logic. Most of the time the game is actually too blunt about just pointing you directly to what you need to do next.

Definitely not a game for haters of the talky-talky and non-interactive cutscenes, Shadow of Destiny is an interesting concept marred by trying to be too movie-like and rely on the graphical "wow" factor of the then-brand-new PS2 over gameplay. It's still somewhat interesting, but there's a hefty pinch of tedium in the mix that only hardcore adventure/story-based game fans will have the patience to tolerate.
 
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