Shadow of Memories
|a game by||Konami|
|User Rating:||9.0/10 - 2 votes|
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|See also:||Quest Games|
IF any further proof were needed that storytelling in games is primitive, childish and in need of a revolution, this is it. Shadow Of Memories received scores of eight or nine out of ten in almost every PS2 magazine when it was released a few years back. The PC version, which came out in the States a few months ago, has been getting the same sort of rave reviews.
The reason? That it tells a complex, dramatic and slightly original story. Never mind that there's barely the bones of a game to support it, that the characters are one-dimensional marionettes and the dialogue is functional at best. The way people have been talking about it you'd think none of them had ever read a novel.
The premise is not without its merits, beginning as it does with your character's death and his subsequent time travels as he attempts to thwart his own murders, one after the other. You save yourself from one death, then do it all again only in a different place and time, as you move ever further along the game's timeline. The problem is you might as well not be there for all the input you have. Ninety per cent of the 'game' is made up of interminable cut-scenes and loading screens. The other 10 per cent has you walking round the streets of a quaint German village, sparking off cut-scenes by, say, clicking on a character or turning down an alleyway.
The adventure element has you dying in a fire, travelling back in time from the limbo you end up in, seeing a boy starting the blaze so you can stop it (all this in cutscenes. of course) and then going back to the present. There are as many as five objects to pick up during the course of the 'game', their use always obvious to the point of utter imbecility.
One Ending's Enough
Since it's more like a film than a game. I'm going to judge it as a film. And quite frankly, it's a turkey. The main character is straight out of a Japanese Mills and Boon novel, and the quality of the narrative isn't far off one either. There aren't more than a handful of dialogue options in the whole thing. You're supposed to just sit back and watch.
The main criticism SoM got from PS2 reviewers is that it's too short (despite the several endings, which depend on a couple of those dialogue options). I beg to differ - it's too long. Would you sit through a pompous, five-hour anime movie? No, you wouldn't. It's not as though much happens in the cut-scenes either. I ended up reading a book in order to stem the boredom.
At least Konami have done a good job of converting it, with high resolutions and mouse support. But this is not the way stories should be told.