My other time machine is a Lexus IS300.
Video games don’t need anymore androgynous game characters. Square, Konami
– listen up. We’re not gonna take it anymore. Who wants to be a frail, effeminate
atrophied girl/boy with long flowing hair delicately tied back, and a few strands
strategically placed to look slightly disheveled? I don’t want to name any names
but Cloud (FFVII), Sion (The
Bouncer) and now Eike Kusch (Shadow of Destiny) are all overly delicate.
Come on, even the Broccoli
Boys somehow manage to be more masculine. How many more girly-men must we
play as before someone finally says enough?
Shadow of Destiny is a third-person classic adventure that send players
tumbling back and forth through time in an attempt to avert your own deaths.
Note the plural. The game has some pretty interesting characters, such as your
ancestors from several different time periods, alchemists, fortunetellers, demons
and even eccentric screenplay writers. Cool, eh?
SoD brings to the fray good graphics, incredible FMVs, spot on animation
and a seemingly ho-hum story containing enough plot twists, mystery and intrigue
to compel you to finish the game and discover at least one of five endings.
But the game is not without its weaknesses – namely, an astonishing lack of
interactivity (you’re essentially just watching the game) and the wussy lead
The game opens with you, Eike Kusch, walking out of a caf” only to receive
a shank in your backside, ending your life. Upon awakening you find yourself
in a strange netherworld. A voice informs you that you are dead and offers you
a time travel device called the Digipad (most generic name ever?), which will
aid you in preventing your own demise. After a brief repartee, you accept the
offer, suspicious of what your new helper has to gain in the matter, and are
whisked away to a point 30 minutes before your passing.
That’s the story. It may sound familiar and kind of dull, but believe me at
least one of the five endings comes together better than most Hollywood blockbusters.
I’m thoroughly impressed.
Each chapter in the game represents a different death that you must avert (your
death outside the caf” is chapter one). Who are these killers and what is their
agenda? This is for you to piece together on your temporal jaunts.
The first thing you’ll notice about SoD is the high graphic quality.
The textures are clean and detailed and there is no obvious anti-aliaing issues.
The eye candy is as sweet as anything you’ll find in the Dreamcast’s Resident
Evil: Code Veronica. If you like the graphics, which I know you will, then
you will love the nicely executed and well-animated FMV sequences. It’s good
that these are pleasant to watch, since that’s what you’re doing for the better
part of the game.
The entire game takes place in the same town, and the gameplay is very typical
for an adventure title. Eike traverses the town back and forth talking with
residents, gathering information and acquiring items. Again, a large portion
of the gameplay entails long FMV’s. Grab a soda and get comfortable.
There are tiny energy units conveniently scattered throughout the town that
power your Digipad time travelling device. This is really cool. Each time period
has these EU’s scattered in different places. Try to remember where you last
spotted them, so when you return to that timeline you can go straight to them
with little hassle. You’ll quickly find out (maybe the hard way) that an abundant
supply of these little units is preferable. This will permit you to do some
of the side quests or just explore different (but relevant) timelines at your
time travelling is just what you would expect. You meet ancestors and tinker
with the timeline, eventually seeing the effects manifested in later time periods.
I traveled back a hundred years and instructed a groundskeeper to plant a flowerbed
(for reasons you must discover on your own) in the exact spot where a tree is
standing in the current time. Upon travelling back to my own time I noticed
the huge old tree was gone, and there stood a flowerbed in it’s place. That
was fun, and Eike engages in much more temporal meddling of the like.
This time tweaking is directly related to the game’s numerous branching points.
The events you effect in the past can later dictate which ending you will uncover.
Branching is something that is definitely needed in a game where there is little
interactivity, as it offers the player a little something to do when there isn’t
And that’s the biggest problem with Shadow of Destiny: the lack of action.
While adventure games are often more cerebral than other genres, this one goes
out of its way to ensure that you do very little. It gets frustrating at times.
But I must give credit where it’s due, and this game just keeps on giving.
Not only do you get five different endings, you can also open up a few movie
trailers and even another game mode known as EX Mode (wow, what an original
name). Even this EX bit allows for two different endings. SoD is just
packed with more gameplay than you can shake a memory card at.
In general, the Playstation 2 has many laughably mediocre titles. Few are turning
heads or raising eyebrows, and that’s sad. Sony should be happy that gamers
can’t sue them for false advertising. Faster load times – Ha! Revolutionary
gameplay – I beg your pardon? So when a solid, intriguing game such as Shadow
of Destiny comes along, we light incense and thank the gaming gods for blessing
us with a decent title to act as more rain for our village of gaming.
It may not be a gift from the gods, but Shadow of Destiny is a solid
game. Initially the story feels retarded, but give it some time and you’ll see
the light. The multiple endings and extra goodies really ups the replay value,
a rarity in a game of this sort. Still, the lack of action deals a heavy blow
to this otherwise polished adventure.