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Shadow of Destiny (PSP) artwork

Shadow of Destiny (PSP) review


"Do you believe in fate? "



Do you believe in fate?

If you were faced with a life-altering choice, would you make it without ever taking the time to consider potential outcomes or is every decision you come across made with the knowledge that each moment is a thread in time, one that combines with everyone elseís to eventually culminate and weave an intricate tapestry--one whose design is pre-determined. And resistance towards the greater plan could mean snapping only one thread and tragically unraveling the entire balance that was set.

Itís a question not answered easily--by anyone. Even trying can lead you to paranoia, regret or despondency. In real life, attempting to twist, arrange or submit to fate can lead one to insanity or callowness.

However in a game, this theory and the ambition to fight it creates the perfect settingÖ

Shadow Of Destiny is not about learning the inner workings of a complex main character. Over the course of the game, you learn very little about Eike. Heís not given a twisted back-story nor is he really ever faced with moral decisions that define his personality or thrown into situations that pull at your heartstrings and make you genuinely feel for him. In the grander scheme of things, Eike makes very little progression and even less is revealed about his past. In truth, I didnít even know what Eike did for a living.

Heís simply a man trying to survive.

And that would lead one to believe--as I did--that his fight for survival would be just that: a fight. I imagine many, given its genre, would believe that Shadow Of Destiny is about action; combat. Yet through the entire course of the game, Eike doesnít throw one punch, nor are you prompted to do so. He doesnít swing a weapon, fire a gun or even use a vehicle as a battering ram. Things might be much easier if he did.

But that option doesnít exist.

Because Shadow Of Destiny isnít about intense combat, or attaching you to a character that you truly understand and feel for, prompting you to fight just as hard as him in order to win.

Shadow Of Destiny is about playing God.

Twisting those threads of fate, yanking them out and replacing them with entirely different colors. Itís about building a new design over the old--one that is far more pleasant.

A power that should be wielded by none, yet one granted to Eike after he meets his demise, in a random alley, from a knife to the back. But unlike all others, death is not an end for Eike, itís a beginning. Rather than ascension to heaven or a descent into hell, Eike is hurled into limbo--a broken, hovering world littered with crumbling pillars, shattered statues and empty doorframes. Amidst the rubble, one entity makes its presence known, that of a young boy--oddly feminine--sitting high above Eike. With an almost playful nature, he begins waxing poetically about life and death, cause and effect, eventually leaving our protagonist with a second chance to change his fate and a strange item that will help him achieve such.

Itís referred to as a digipad, but in essence is nothing more than a time machine, but if used properly can save Eike from his horrible death.

Of which I believed there to be only one, but moments after heís safe another attempt is made on his life. What I thought as only a random, unlucky encounter began to seem more like a conspiracy--and a brilliant one at that. Each time I escaped, I unwittingly walked into another trap. Like someone opposite me, yanking out the thread I had taken so much time to place.

But therein lies the magic of Destiny

At times it can be fairly linear, it also allows a fair amount of freedom. Since the game doesnít have a combat mechanic, finding ways to avoid countless murders takes thought instead. Itís a trial-and-error system, mostly comprised of leading Eike to different areas and talking to different individuals. Itís picking up specific items before the countdown to the fated hour. Itís making drastic changes in the past simply to avoid a seemingly simple event in the future, like traveling four hundred years into the past and convincing a gardener to plant flowers instead of a tree, eliminating it in the future and giving the murderer no safe place to hide.

Though it seems trivial, you eventually see the effect it has on everything.

Personalities change in drastic measures--the meek become confident, the artistic sell their souls. The world shifts and the environment blooms in some places, decays in others. Art loses inspiration, once profitable businesses cease to exist.

The further into the game, the more intricate the plot becomes--the more it requires significant changes. And though I may be sick in saying this, being granted such power is nothing but mesmerizing and addictive. It draws you in, immerses you and holds you captive until the final credits roll.

Itís proof that you need not a massive budget or flashy themes to make a great game. All you need is one good, original idea. And for Shadow Of Destiny itís a theory, one that can be argued and debated, but in the end itís that speculation and the ability to twist and shape it that creates an experience unlike any other. So powerful it is that it may bleed over into real life, leaving you to ask two very direct, complicated questions: Do I believe in fate? Can I change it?

Rating: 9/10

Nightmare's avatar
Community review by Nightmare (September 20, 2010)

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CoarseDragon posted September 24, 2010:

Awesome review. I was truly mesmerized by your descriptions and the pacing was excellent.

One thing however.

And resistance towards the greater plan could mean snapping only one thread, but tragically unraveling the entire balance that was set.

I was wondering if "not" might belong.

"snapping not only one thread, but tragically unraveling the entire balance that was set."
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Nightmare posted September 24, 2010:

Thanks for the comments Coarse. I appreciate it and glad you liked the review.

Thanks for pointing that section out. I had not noticed it prior but it didn't quite make sense the way I had written it. Hopefully that makes it easier to understand.

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