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Lost in Shadow


The shadow world must be an entertaining one as there are a bevy of games in the past couple of years, like Echochrome, Shift or Limbo, that use shadows to create characters, obstacles and puzzles. Hudsonís Lost in Shadow can probably be pigeonholed as more of a platformer than anything else, but basically entails controlling a shadowy character across level after level. The simplistic story is molded around a shadow that gets ripped from a boy imprisoned in a giant tower. In order to reunite with the prisoner, the shadow has to climb floor after floor as well as avoid getting killed by enemies or hazards in the environment. In order to flesh out the narrative a bit more, memories are hidden along the way and can be recovered to put together the entire tale. Overall, the presentation is a cute concept that unfortunately gets bogged down in repetitive actions and terrible controls.

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How repetitive, you may ask? Combat, for instance, consists of the game three hit smack-down on every shadowy enemy in the game. Thereís no skill required in dispatching enemies and the process is painfully slow. For some reason, the developer thought throwing an endless stream of enemies at you would be entertaining. They also didnít think to include a block maneuver, forcing you to run from enemies after dishing out a combo. Itís incredibly time consuming, but not very a challenge because the vast majority of enemies in the world are idiots. However, you do get to upgrade your sword a bit later in the game. The developer also assumes that you lack the mental function to solve logical problems as most of the puzzles arenít challenging in the slightest. There were only three times that I had to stop and think about how to reach the glowing eye in a puzzle before continuing.

Another problem with the game is poor handling. Perhaps shadows are made of helium balloons covered in grease because thatís exactly how the shadowy hero handles. Landing a jump is definitely difficult and leads to death more often than not. Itís pretty easy to fall off platforms completely as well. There are also moments in the game that require rotating the world to move the shadows. Itís often not clear what portions of the world will kill you and needless deaths occur because objects crush the shadow boy.

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Similar to the early days of Zelda, you will eventually have to do some retreading over familiar territory later in the game. The developers often just reverse the entire level and force you to think about the same puzzles in an opposite fashion. In the end, you are rewarded with an ending that disappoints and frankly pisses you off that you had to play for about 15 hours to actually get there. At the end of the story, I really felt depressed rather than elated that I accomplished something. I can only imagine itís similar to the feeling of false accomplishment that Farmville awards the legions of Facebook users that find it fascinating to tend crops all day by clicking a mouse repetitively.

Graphics

The visual engine in Lost for Shadow is successful at creating a realistic world of shadows to navigate, but certainly wonít win any awards in terms of performance. There are definitely some stuttering problems in the game from time to time that hampers gameplay. However, the lack of defined detail on the Wii platform work to their advantage as the environment has a soft, almost dreamlike, fuzzy look. The game is also very colorful and the contrast of the darkened shadow world against the real world is definitely cool, especially the transitions between worlds. Thereís also a decent amount of variety between levels.

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Audio

I feel like the developer lost an opportunity to use more powerful music to create a saddening atmosphere that really matched the intended loneliness of the overall presentation. The lack of music in the game often leads to a humdrum sense of complete boredom. It also does nothing to sell the plight of the character to the player. When mixing the absence of music with the general lack of variety in the sound effects, this only exacerbates the issue.

Conclusion

Lost in Shadow is unfortunately true to its name. The player will feel lost in a sea of mediocre gameplay that doesnít have a foreseeable end in sight. While we typically herald gaming developers for providing extensive length in new games and shun those who do not, the exhausting amount of material in the game only irritates the player with trick endings. Awarding 15 precious gaming hours to completing the shallow tale that is Lost in Shadow is a travesty, even during the doldrums of the post-holiday fracas. I canít recommend Lost in Shadow to anyone that enjoys puzzle games. You are much better off playing Limbo or Braid, if you haven't already.



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