Video game review: Lost in Shadow

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Lost in Shadow
Hudson
Wii

Lost in Shadow is, for all intents and purposes, a straight-ahead platform game. Its core mechanics aren’t that different from the original Prince of Persia, a game over 20 years old. But underneath the standard gameplay lies an enigmatic game, all delivered in a gorgeous aesthetic and one really great gimmick.

At the start of the game, you’re introduced via a solemn, silent cutscene to the setting of the game, a massive tower. A boy approaches a door, but not before a man clad in armor relegates him to a less than corporeal state. See, the main hook to Lost in Shadow is that instead of interacting with the world in a normal way, your character can only interact with the shadow world. Every action relies on light shone on the platforms in the game’s foreground. For the player, this means reorienting your normal means of perception in order to make sense of this dangerous world.

Lost in Shadow absolutely nails the feeling of being dropped into the middle of a deadly alien landscape. Your character can withstand a fair amount of damage, but the number of traps and enemies can occasionally make things overwhelming. The Brian Eno-esque ambient soundtrack and perfectly designed soundscape also play into the downtrodden atmosphere. In fact, the entire game is a little depressing – collecting your shattered memories strewn all over the tower and making a journey into the unknown is amazing, but hardly uplifting.

The game succeeds at one of the toughest tricks in video gaming – delivering an involving experience while keeping everything ambiguous. Some have compared Lost in Shadow to games such as Ico or the recently-released Limbo, and it absolutely deserves to stand in that company. The subtly wondrous level design keeps things fresh, even when the length threatens to keep things “same-y.” The desperate need to uncover the game’s mysteries of the setting and situation make it very compelling.

The only place where Lost in Shadow really falters is that its central conceit isn’t taken far enough – the first few hours are quite a bit easier than the devilish last half, and the mystery untangles at a glacial pace. But the atmosphere of the game, its blurry and vague storyline, and its beautiful, if simple, gameplay all contribute to an extremely memorable experience. Moreso than many modern games, Lost in Shadow is a game that will stay with you for a long, long time.

Matthew Blackwell
Tech. Coordinator

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