Product Type: Konami PS2 games
Newest Review: ... players may be put off by the lack of combat. This is reinforced by the game system which does not even have combat controls or mechani... more
Time Travel done right
Shadow Of Memories (PS2)
Member Name: tirial
Shadow Of Memories (PS2)
Advantages: Thought-provoking RPG, good graphics
Disadvantages: Repetitive, Needs replays to get full story
One of the earlier releases for the Playstation2, Shadow of Memories is a classic and unique game with a complex storyline.
Unusually the game begins with the death of its protagonist, Eike Kusch, who is murdered. With the aid of a sinister benefactor he must go back through time to other eras to solve the mystery of why he was killed and prevent his death, while avoiding the other attempts on his life occurring in the present. The game has multiple endings and a complex storyline where your choices in each time period will affect all the others. You also gain a completion percentage for each stage - to fully resolve the game you need to go into other eras than just the one you need to solve each issue.
Shadow of Memories is a puzzle-solving story-driven game, so some players may be put off by the lack of combat. This is reinforced by the game system which does not even have combat controls or mechanics. All the puzzles tie in to the storyline, and you have to take actions in the past to change the present which are not always obvious. While there are limits on how often you can time travel, you do need to undertake sidetrips, unless you want to be lead by the nose through the story without finding the truth (which, without spoilers, is what the bad guy would like).
The controls are easy, intuitive and basic, since Eike usually walks around, performs basic actions and talks to people. Graphically the game is attractive, with different colour schemes for different eras (black and white for the twenties, sepia for the distant past). A highlight is the cats in the museum office, which made me wonder how they motion-captured kittens, they are that lifelike. The voice acting is excellent and believable, and the cut sequences work into the game seamlessly in most cases. The sound is good and does not detract from the game. The only problem I have is that, as an early PS2 title, the graphics are slightly dated but the immersive storyline makes up for it.
The multiple endings give the game replay value: there are eight (five basic and three expanded). While there are two obvious points in the game where you can affect the ending by answering questions, the other endings are obtained by uncovering and investigating side issues which come up during play. You cannot find out the full truth from any one of the basic endings so you will need to complete the game multiple times to learn it. To solve it, through an expanded ending, requires gaining almost all the basic endings to find out what is going on. It's not just Eike locked in a timeloop repeating the games events to solve the problem - if you want the best ending it's the player as well.
Despite this it does not become repetitive, perhaps because each time through you are trying to discover the truth behind mysteries you found on your last quest. Trying to get the task to save your life done quickly enough to have time to explore and investigate is one of the game's main challenges. I still go back it occasionally.
It loses one star for slightly dated graphics, and a few non-obvious and critical puzzles, but otherwise this game provides five star gameplay and a great plot.
Overall this is an excellent mystery game with high replay value, but designed for thinking rather than action-orientated players.
(An update on my CIAO review)
Summary: Charming mystery RPG.