Since the release of much hyped about titles such as God of War: Chains of Olympus, Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core, and Patapon earlier this year, there hasn’t been much for PSP users to get excited about lately. Most titles recently released are either multiplatform titles that are usually overshadowed by its PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts, or localized versions of games developed in Japan where the PSP is enjoying tremendous success.

Although there is not much buzz around this game, Fading Shadows is actually a title from Europe that has made it ways onto North American shores with a unique approach to the puzzle genre.

The Pros

Amongst the myriad of puzzle games that is usually a given for any portable videogame platform, Fading Shadows brings something a little different to the table. The story goes that you’re a girl who is out to rescue your younger brother from a sorcerer looking to sacrifice him for his own benefit. However, she (or you as the player) goes about rescuing him by controlling a beam of light that has the ability to direct an orb that rolls through dungeons the sorcerer’s henchmen has set up for you.

Further adding to playability is the depth of the game play. The orb you are leading with the beam of light can take three forms (metal, glass, and wood) each with their own abilities and weaknesses. The games make it essential that all orbs are utilized and sometimes in the same level. The player must also take into consideration the concentration of the beam you control (which is always adjustable). The more concentrated you choose your beam to be, the more control you have over your orb. But depending on the state your orb is in, you run the risk of destroying it costing you a life (i.e. burning the wood orb, or breaking the glass orb).

Even though the games is a puzzle game at it’s heart, it has a platforming feel to it as you begin a level at a start point, control your character to clear the obstacles and inevitably reaching the end point and end of the level.

The added down tempo electronic music in the game is a nice touch that adds more emotion in the game, in addition to being atmospheric and calming.

The Cons

With the unique game play and a complimenting soundtrack, the game really missed out on the opportunity to expand and go a little further in depth with the story. At points when I was enjoying the game (especially in the first half) I wished I knew more about the story and had more dialogue to get myself more attached to the game.

That further contributed to the impression that the game is a bit on the short side for a puzzler with about 40 levels to go through that takes about 5-10 minutes to complete each one. The player actually can go through the latter levels quicker since you would already have a grasp on what you have to do and the levels can get a little repetitive.

Playing through the levels, there were times where glitches were exposed and the beam I was controlling got stuck and wasn’t able to move out of some crevices in the level forcing me to exit and restart the stage inducing a certain intensity of frustration.

Here’s the deal

For the PSP owners looking for a new title to sink their teeth into in the recent drought of PSP games, this one is definitely worth the consideration. Even though it lacks the polish and finish of “system seller” it has takes a fresh approach to the puzzle genre while combining it with platforming elements. It’s got “hidden gem” status written all over it. 7/10


~ by consolecreatures on September 28, 2008.

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