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3.9 out of 5 stars70
3.9 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2003
If, like me, you played Silent Hill 2 on "Beginner" action level because you couldn't care less about killing zombies, but wanted to get past them to the interesting puzzle and story aspects, you should at least give Shadow of Memories a rental once-over.
Let me state that it is evident that this is far more an interactive movie than a game. The actual amount of user interaction is a far lower proportion of the total game, compared to the cutscenes. Fortunately, the quality of these is such that if you're in the right frame of mind they are quite enthralling, involving you emotionally with the characters and very effectively deepening the storyline. Strangely enough, on occasion even better results are gleaned from playing the game badly, as you get a higher percentage completion by dying more often.
The high quality of the cutscenes comes from excellent graphical design and animation of characters and backgrounds, a well written script, and excellent acting performances. Charles Martinet as the mysterious being Homunculus gains particular kudos for his superb voice talent. Rarely in video games have the voice acting performances matched the graphical acting performances so completely, for all the characters. Another good move on the part of the developers was in making sure that cutscenes and gameplay were all done in the same quality graphics, thus making it much more of a seamless experience (Cf: Shenmue and most of Resident Evil: Code Veronica).
With a highly detailed 3D rendering of a German town through four different eras, the look of the game is fantastic. Once again (as with Silent Hill 2), one takes one's hat off to Japanese developers who have created a Western environment with so much attention to detail that one would swear that the creators of the game were Westerners themselves. Only Eike's bizarre hairdo screams "Japanese!" at you. (Also slightly unfortunate was the choice of "Lebensbaum" as the name of the town - chiming as it does with "Lebensraum", Hitler's fascist dogma of "Living Room for Germans" which "justified" his conquest of Europe.) Of course, it has to be said that the American accents can be a little irritating, particularly when a 1580s butcher woman tells Eike "You're pretty cute"!
But if it's so good, why give it only three stars? It's not just the shortness of the game (I completed my first runthrough in a tad under five hours), but that, for a game which is all puzzles and no action, said puzzles could have been a little more taxing. I only came across two of what I would call genuine posers, the first of which is simply how to get the plot started at the very beginning (having just had a mystical experience involving Eike's own death and resurrection, the "Old Alchemist Shop" seemed to me the most logical place to visit, and so it proved - but I can see how youngsters might be at a bit of a loss). A glance at the prop list of items you've picked up will also give you far too many clues as to what to do with them. Some puzzles could have been really difficult, except that the notebook feature told me exactly what I had to do. Furthermore, in a time travelling game it would make sense to have puzzles which could only be solved by going into a number of different time periods. Although there is at least one of these, you are told exactly when to go to by the game. If, instead of this, you had more options as to which period to visit, and more items needed to solve each puzzle, the game could have become a genuine challenge. Once you've completed the first run through, you do have the challenge of discovering what tiny differences you need to make to the way you play in order to get the different endings. However, the first run through is *so* unchallenging that there isn't as much incentive as there should be to go through the game again.
My final niggle with the game is the time limit on each chapter. Without the time constraint, given the freedom to do more exploring, I feel that even my first run of the game would have been a far lengthier and richer experience. Certain shops and buildings are only open during the day in 2001, but you only have a small window to visit them before they close. Why not keep them open? Similarly, since the church provides nothing more than an interesting, well-designed and beautiful interior for the player to look at, I can see absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be open to visit throughout the game; but it isn't. Explorer-players who enjoy games like Shenmue will therefore be disappointed in the game's own insistence on restricting even the comparatively small area you see in the game, quite apart from restricting your time to do such exploration.
So, in conclusion: I experienced a complex and fascinating story, met some interesting characters and got to know the social and architectural evolution of a small German town. As a gameplayer, I could have done with more in the way of mental challenge. But it's very much worth a look, and after SH2 and SoM, I look forward to other Konami adventure games - those guys really know how to tell a story, and they take the trouble to make the graphics as realistic as the PS2 allows, which isn't always true even of the most recent games.
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on 31 March 2001
Having read a glowing review of this game in The Official Playstation Magazine, I instantly ran out and purchased it. My expectations were high, and I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed. While the game's longevity falls way short of the mark - a mere 3 or 4 hours of gameplay are required to finish the game - the plot of the game had me captivated from start to finish. It's one of those games you sit down to have a quick 5 minute go at to see what it's like; and before you know it - several hours of your life have just flashed by. Which is ironic, as the storyline revolves primarily around the theme of time travel. As for the game itself: well, the graphics are stunning; the sounds and music are brilliantly atmospheric; and the ending (of which there are SIX!) will blow your mind. The outcome of the game depends heavily on various choices that you must make throughout the game - as you travel backwards and forwards in time, intent on unravelling the mystery surrounding your very own death. (Sounds bizarre? It is!) You must perform all manner of tasks and solve puzzles as you repeatedly try to avoid meeting your untimely demise (again and again!). If you're looking for guns and action and gore, steer clear of this game - it's very much a thinking man's game: although it's certainly not as pretentious as that makes it sound! If you like a challenge and enjoy the more subtle elements of the supernatural genre, then this is a MUST BUY! You'll never think the same way about death and time again.
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on 11 April 2001
Shadow of Memories is undoubtedly a clever game. The level of thought and imagination which has gone in to managing the plot twists and paradoxes which the time travel storyline throws up are impressive and the end result is a game which is both gripping and infuriating.
However, the prologue is tremendously dull and there are time when your available options are extremely limited. All the action takes place in the same basic location, albeit throughout different time frames, which can also be quite restrictive.
This is one game that you won't get any prizes for completing - expect to get through the first run with few hitches. The real problem is trying to get a good ending, as this takes all manner of tiny touches here and there that you could easily miss.
After getting three of the endings in about three evenings I actually had to put the game aside so that I couldn't finish it off completely. It's a great game but it's just not going to keep your interest for a long time. There's a huge sense of achievement when you fit in an extra piece of the puzzle but this can be cancelled out by running through a whole chapter unable to change a thing.
Shadow of Memories is an intelligent and well presented game, but it's joys are short-lived. Shadow of Memories 2 though, that could be worth looking out for...
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VINE VOICEon 13 July 2004
Shadow of Memories is very game light. Of its 6 game endings, many alternative chapters, twists and turns - most of it will come about through story telling and cut scene's. If you prefer your games full of action then I really cant recommend this game to you.
However, for those who want to get emmersed in a story and adventure - this is for you. Essentially 1 part 3D platformer, 2 parts point and click (without a mouse), these types of gaes are based on two things - storyline and their puzzles.
Shadow of Memories places you as Eike, a man killed but given the chance to go back through time and cheat death by preparing yourself for the incident and preventing your death. However fate has it in for you so you must cheat death for the day before you can go on living life again.
How you cheat death is ho the puzzles work. You can go back in time and effect events, objects or even buldings and scenery up to hundreds of years ago - and that will effect how things end up in the future and hopefully keep you alive. But you must get it all done before your next time of death otherwise you'll be lost in time forever!
It sounds like great scope for adventure and while the story ticks over perfectly, the puzzles dont really seem to get going. You cant get stuck for too long because your given a lot of tips on what to do. Thankfully getting all the different endings (all signiicantly different too) provides a much harder task and you'll be more than willing to revisit the game over and over to see what all the different choices you make can do.
An excellent piece of story telling raise this games ball. Not essential by any means - but for people who get into their games like they do good films, I'd heartily recommend this.
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on 23 April 2004
An early PS2 release, this is an extremely engrossing adventure game whichsees you preventing your death by travelling back in time. The game isdivided up into a number of chapters, each of which starting with a movieof your death. With pretty low-res graphics and none too detailedsettings, this title does nothing to show off the PS2's capabilities, andit's not all that challenging to beat either, but who cares when thegame's as good as this. Where it really comes into its own is the storyand multiple endings: there are so many different decisions you can takewhich radically effect the game's progression, if you just finish the gameonce you've only just scratched the surface. There are many plot threadsrunning through the game which intertwine wonderfully, and these are onlyfully revealed by playing through multiple times. Don't let the graphicsput you off (they're not that bad anyway) and buy this title, at theprices you can find it for now, it really is a must.
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on 5 July 2001
The graphics are fantastic. Yes, there are a lot of cut-scenes, but they provide depth and underpin the totally immersive qualities of this title.
This is not a game for those who want to sit down and vege-out. A lot of people have commented upon the short time to 'complete' this title, but they have totally missed the point. Shadow is about time-travel and causality. You have not completed the game if you have only got to one 'ending'. You have only completed the game if you have managed all of them - which is when their interelationship and the effect of different decisions begins to make sense - and some new (and significant) options are made available to you.
There is an awful lot to this game but you need to really think about it to get the most from it. Perhaps the publishers should have spelled all this out a bit more.
I personally think it is one of the best games that I have ever played and know a fair few people who agree.
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on 22 November 2001
All people are different, and gamers are no different. Some prefer hard-core button-mashing a la Tekken or FIFA, others are into it basically to be told a story, like the Final Fantasy series.
Shadow of Memories (sold abroad as Shadow of Destiny) is very much so for the latter group, except there isn't even any turn-based combat- there is just plot, and minimal gameplay (largely running around places and between timezones) with only flimsy excuses for puzzles. You need to collect energy balls to travel between timezones- but there are so many you that it's rather pointless and get the feeling that they were added as a committee decision at the end of the game development.
The plot runs along the lines of "A man dies, but is given the chance to change his fate by going back in time". There are numerous endings- technically there are 7- all of which interweave and reveal more and more about the characters' true histories.
The game starts off well, with a spooky feeling as your character, Eike, tries to avoid being killed. It's way easy though, and after you've finished a couple of the endings you may get a bit bored trying to get the other few. It's satisfying when you get the "A" ending and the "EX" endings; it's just getting there that's the problem.
Still, there are some nice little extras for getting there- some movies of development and the EX ending are unlocked when you complete the various threads. But you can't help getting a feeling that you've been a bit cheated on actual entertainment, as you sit there watching the game go by.
I would recommend the game to those who *wouldn't* buy a football or racing game, but who *would* buy all the Final Fantasy games. Some people will love the cerebral nature of the game but like I said, it's not for everyone.
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on 7 December 2003
Death, they say, comes to us all, though hopefully not as often as it comes to poor Eicke, hero of Shadow of Memories and seemingly constant victim of murderous conspiracies.
Shadow of Memories is a 3D adventure game that begins with an ending, your ending in fact, as Eicke is rather cruelly dispatched with a knife to the back before you even get a chance to pick up the controller. Happily he is given a second chance at life by the mysterious Homoculus, a demon-eyed fellow with a penchant for wearing black and speaking in riddles, who gives Eicke a time-travelling device called a Digipad which enables him to go back and stop his own murder. This isn't as simple as it sounds however, as foiling one attempt only leads to another. Before you know it you're off back to the Middle Ages to stop a tree being planted so that your attacker can't hide behind it and jump you in the present day. But I digress.
As you can probably gather, Shadow of Memories is rather intricately plotted, and will take some figuring out. It's a pretty enough ride but not exactly astoundingly good-looking, There are some rather lazy design elements too. For example in the initial stages of the game you are prevented from going to certain places in Eicke's little town by a seeming plague of snarling dogs that block strategic streets. This appears rather contrived and is quite frustrating. The control mechanism is similarly unfriendly. There is no way of altering the fixed viewpoint behind Eicke except to rotate around him, you are stuck with a fixed perspective close behind Eicke. It's as if he's walking just in front of you all the time, blocking your view. This changes sometimes in certain scenes but there just isn't enough flexibility in the system to stop it becoming annoying.
This aside the game is involving but not helped by some stupendously hammy voice acting and camped-up rendition of medieval times. That's not to say that Shadow of Memories doesn't have a decent story behind it, it's just let down by lazy puzzle solutions and occasionally poor plotting.
The puzzles themselves are all of a get Item A take to Location/Person B variety in the style of the old point-and-click graphic adventures and are rarely challenging. The game will probably only last a few days play, maybe a week at best. Interestingly, there are five different endings, the one you get depending on the choices you make whilst playing the game with regards to the other characters. What you say and do or do not say and do at certain points could drastically affect your ultimate fate. So it's a real shame that there's so little incentive to go back and play through it all again. Personally I just can't be bothered to make the time for it, maybe if I could get my hands on Eicke's Digipad I might give it another go. Until we're all able to travel through time however, I'd think twice before spending mine on this.
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on 31 July 2001
Shadows of Memories
Now here is an unusual idea for a game. An adventure game whereby the game starts with the death of the lead character. Not only that but the lead character, named Eike (silent E) is resurrected by a demon. For reasons unknown to Eike at the time the demon wants to keep Eike alive and does this by basically bestowing the power to travel through time on him. And so you take control of Eike on his quest to find out why someone is trying to kill him and stop it. Be warned, this game is not for the gun-ho action types among you. The very large part of this game consists of running around solving very simple puzzles, that's largely the problem with Shadows of Memories. It feels like your watching a movie and controlling some parts of it. For some this would obviously be an instant turn off but don't let the linear game play affect the terrific plot. Still it does seem that this adventure should have been a movie rather than a game.
Graphics
While the graphics themselves are perfectly crisp and the textures on the buildings look very clean and crisp there are still a few niggling little points about the design of some aspects of the player models. For a start I mistook our lead character, Eike, for a girl when I first saw him. It was only when I heard his voice for the first time I realised he was male. Also some of the people's faces look a little weird. Its as if their eyes are too far apart and their heads are squashed down. It actually looks freaky enough to scare small children. Yet some of the characters not only look extremely smooth and detailed but also are also very realistic. Examples of this are a jogger you see in the park and an old museum boss. Another point is that the characters look good in the different times you travel too. For example when you travel to the 1500's the people look just like the Germans of that time (the game being set in a small German village) did. One slightly bugging thing about the graphics on the outside of the street is that sometimes they look so similar you get lost and have to carefully check the map every few steps.
Game play
A shadow of Memories does not have any real game play as of such. It really is like an interactive movie. It's full of cinematic with small amounts of character-controlled parts after the cinematics. I had a feeling that I wasn't actually solving anything but instead the game was guiding me along all the time like Big Brother watching over me. Most of the game play is done in your head. For example you work out how to stop you dying in that particular instance and run about various places looking for objects to aid you in stopping your death at that appointed hour. There are 10 chapters in the game plus a prologue. Each chapter is not very long and you honestly spend more time watching cinematic than playing the game. It still is fun even though its very simple. It can get rather repetitive when your running from one side of the town to the other. Still I would consider it a gem of a game among all the big guns and football games out at the moment. Hardly a classic but extremely original. Also the fact that you are traveling backwards and forwards in time does get somewhat confusing. If you watched Back to The Future and didn't get the plot your not exactly going to be at home here.
Sound
Now, going from memory i do not recall any music playing during Shadows of Memories. So basically sound all comes down to voice acting. It would be sensible to start with Eike. Now since this game is set in Germany you would expect some German accents wouldn't you. Well you would be wrong in thinking there are any. The lead character sounds American and all the NPC (non player characters) sound either American or English. It seems rather strange that the developers couldn't hire some German voice actors or at least people who can do German accents to add a more authentic feel to the game. It doesn't detract from the game in any way it just seems strange considering its obvious that the game is set in Germany. You can see this through the fact that the Town Square is called the Marktplatz, which is the German word for Town Square. Also the Demon who resurrects you has a really cool voice. It could almost be described as a hermaphrodite voice.
Lifespan
Ah here is unfortunately the hurdle that Shadows of Memories and unfortunately, many PS2 games seem to be falling at. I have owned the game for 2 days and i have already gone about halfway through it. It's a combination of it being too easy and too short. Luckily it wasn't actually me that bought the game it was my dad so i get a good game for a week or so and it costs me nothing. I would recommend that you borrow it from a friend or failing that rent it for a few days and you should be able to complete it. However keep in mind that there are 5 ending that are apparently very different so it still could be a good purchase.
Pro's & Cons
Pros ---- - Very Original. - Interesting to play.
Cons ---- - Too short and too easy. - Cheesy voice acting.
Overall - 4/5
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on 29 June 2001
yes its short, but if you dont like this one, so is your IQ. Brillaint storyline, right from beginning through to end, brilliant graphics, almost the best ive ever seen, brilliant sound, dialouge. If you dont like this game, put it away quickly, sell it, burn it, whatever, but if you do like it, and you really should, you wont be able to put it down until you've completed it all those 6 times for the different endings. ive never seen anything like this game, the last time i was this amazed about a game it was over metal gear solid, though i have to deduct a star for the absence of violence and any real action, its still a must buy. NOW!!!
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