Shadow of Destiny

2001 Konami
Designed by Junko Kawano
Reviewed 2005 July 10

Rating -3 Linearity wide, segmented
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty easy Relevance strong
Interface 3rd 3D simple Real-time minor

You are Eike, visiting a little, old German town. Somebody stabs you in the back and you die. Fortunately, somebody up (or maybe down) there likes you and offers you the chance to go back in time and prevent your death. This is more complicated than it seems, since the killer will keep trying: it's not enough to just stop the incident, you also have to stop the underlying reason for the murder.

Your benefactor gives you a strange device which allows you to go back in time, but only to times and places (all in the town) of its choosing. The device also signals you when it wants to go to another time. This saps most of the fun out of the time travel aspect, since you don't get to decide the destinations yourself.

This was originally a console game, and the platform game roots are glaring. The time travel device is powered by mysterious glowing blobs scatterred about town, apparently visible only to you. This is a silly bit of make-work, since there is no challenge to their acquisition (plentiful) or use (automatic).

There's very little challenge to the game. You simply run about and talk to everybody, and once in a while you do a little obvious something with the small inventory. Important tasks are usually loudly hinted. The only real challenge is annoying: each chapter has a time limit, so you can't explore at leisure. Even when you jump to the past, time is ticking in the present. The limits are generous once you know what to do, and even usually doable the first time if you stay focussed and don't smell the roses.

The real fun of the game comes from the multiple paths through the game. Your actions can significantly change the fates of various characters, including yourself. You can also change the overall plot a bit. While this multi-story will appeal to some, to see it all you must replay the game many times, most of which will be boring.

The interface is all 3D. As a port from a console, the game really wants to use the keyboard as a gamepad substitute, but you can do some common stuff with the mouse. The big failing -- again from the console roots -- is the horrid save system. The presentation is not impressive, but it is good and functional.

The connections between the characters are interesting, and the basic plot is fine. The challenge, however, is basically a maze, selecting different routes to get to different paths and endings. As such, this is a poor game. It fares better as a story-toy, but even there the tedium of all the replay sucks the excitement out of it. Ultimately, I felt like I was on rails, a passenger on the plot train.

David Tanguay's Game Reviews
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