Ah Japan, never stop making games. Gaming may well have embedded itself into many cultures, particularly in western society, but no nation has been more impacted by the medium than Japan. The country has produced games ranging from the epic fantasy stories of the Final Fantasy games, to the outright weirdness of games like Catherine. Japan has also bred some of the greatest development companies active today; such as the whimsical, fun and rainbow-vomit-inducing Nintendo and the great Square Enix. But the company we shall be focusing on today is the monolithic and hatred-inducing Konami, a company who appear to be capable of only making outright fantastic games, that they then punish their developers for, or outright terrible games… that they then punish their developers for.
Shadow of Memories is an outright terrible game. You should also totally play it. Called Shadow of Destiny by our North American counterparts (which… kinda makes more sense), this is one of the greatest worst games ever made. See, unlike a lot of awful games, the gameplay in this one isn’t that bad. If it were, the whole experience could be written off as ‘basically not worth it’. As it stands, Shadow of Memories is a fairy competent puzzle/adventure game. Sure, that’s not exactly a rave review, but ‘fairly competent puzzles’ is the best of what this game provides.
The story is a completely insane mess about time travel, fate, alchemy, death and mysticism. The main character, who spends the entirety of the game in a state of total shock and surprise anytime somebody so much as crosses the street, has to prevent his own death through a time machine granted to him by a demon homunculi. Again, the story is a completely insane mess. The puzzles are also confusing, sloppy and designed by somebody who has a very strange idea of how cause and effect actually works.
And I died laughing. Many times. From abandoning the girl he’s feebly attempting to flirt with in the 14th century, to attempting to delay his own death by pitching a time travel movie to a director, the stupidity of the protagonist and of the game itself, provides endless amusement. One of the endings in particular had me falling to the floor, with any attempts to stand torn asunder by another burst of the most suffocating laughter I have ever experienced. It’s dumb, it’s glorious, and I could not recommend it enough. If you are looking for an overlooked Japanese game to get into this year, could do with plenty of laughs, and are willing to look past the fact that the game was developed by the industry equivalent to Skeletor, get yourself Shadow of Memories. Fast. That this game was not successful, is a sad reminder that we do not embrace stupidity enough in our society.
Shadow of Memories is available on PS2, PSP and PC.