Your health is governed by a weight meter (apparently shadows have mass), which can be extended by collecting these aforementioned memories dotted about each level. Each memory offers a little insight into the area of the level you're in, and increases your maximum health by a few grams. Of course you can't have a health bar without enemies. Not far into the game, you'll come across a sword; a rusty old relic of a weapon that would be useless in a real fight. Its shadow, however, is more than capable of slaying the (shadows of) spiders, squids and other nasties that litter the halls of the tower. There's also a rudimentary levelling system in place, and by collecting enough blue orbs from the shady carcasses of dead enemies, you'll level up. The increases to your attack and defence are slight, though, and the system as a whole feels redundant.
At certain points during a level, you'll stumble into a shadow corridor; a separate dimension where the laws of physics no longer hold true. Here, you'll be able to rotate the level to reach previously inaccessible areas, but be careful: rotate the wrong way and you could find yourself squashed into a wall, lost in a dark limbo for all eternity. These sections of the game are really quite interesting, puzzle-wise, and were clearly an opportunity for the developers to go crazy with the shadow mechanics. The gameplay is turned on its head again later on in the game, with light gates that allow the shadow to enter the real world, changing the gameplay quite drastically. The puzzles are, on the whole, well orchestrated, but the game lacks something that ties the experience together.
Graphically, A Shadow's Tale borrows a lot from Ico. The soft colour palette, strange architecture and hazy grain layered over the screen; it all creates an atmosphere reminiscent of Team Ico's 2001 masterpiece. The minimalist music and lack of dialogue contribute to the effect too, but ultimately the game fails to pull it off with the same degree of successfully. The misty film is too thick, the colour saturation is overdone, and at times the game can look quite unsightly. One might make the argument that it's just a Wii game, and as such you can't expect much, but I'm not complaining about graphical prowess, I'm complaining about the unattractive art direction.
A Shadow's Tale tries too hard to be subtle and artsy; qualities that Ico pulled off so effortlessly. It's endearing to an extent, but the experience as a whole is marred by poor visuals, uninspiring level design and dated platforming. It's a shame because some of the shadow effects are brilliant, and the use of light in puzzles is really quite innovative. Unfortunately though, A Shadow's Tale doesn't have the aesthetic credentials to back up its unique mechanics, which is ultimately the game's biggest shortcoming. It's certainly not a bad game, but with so many great games on the way in run up to Christmas, it'll have a hard time stepping out of the shadows.
VideoGamer.com Score6 Score out of 10
- Good atmosphere
- Some innovative puzzles
- Very unattractive in places
- Simple platforming