Fading Shadows (PSP)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Saturday, September 27, 2008

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 5.00
Gameplay: 9.00
Replays: 6.00
Gamelength: 7.50

Agetec has officially published one of the coolest puzzle games ever made, “Fading Shadows” for the PSP.

Fans of “Marble Madness”, “Marble Blast Ultra” and “Switchball” will feel right at home with this latest puzzle game for the PSP. The difference between this title and the others, though, is the fact that there’s an impressive story, even if it’s not all that deep or well-told, but it most certainly gives some real meaning to the game. The fate of the world depends on us, so let’s not waste any time. Trapped in the form of an orb, my soul is ready for a full journey through the world of “Fading Shadows”.

Before I even move onto the graphics, this game deserves a brief mention of the story. The orb in this game contains a trapped soul, which is meant to find “Erwyn” and save him from “Gardel” so that you can bring him back to the Castle of Heaven. The fate of the world depends on this task and the story unfolds over time, although it doesn’t get too out of hand or unpredictable. But for a puzzle game, this really makes the player feel motivated to complete each level. The story is just enough to give this game a serious edge over the competition, as far as I’m concerned.

As for the visual presentation, it’s gorgeous for a PSP title. The lighting effects, shadows and textures are all as wonderful as they come on the PSP. The water effects are equally as awesome and it seems as though the developers put a lot of effort into making this game a visual masterpiece. In truth, I was shocked to see the game in action. I simply wasn’t expecting a PSP puzzle game from a smaller developer, by comparison to the giants in the industry, to nearly match the graphical quality of the biggest hits on the PSP.

There’s not a whole lot of sound to speak of, but what’s there does the job just fine. There’s generic music, generic sound effects and the occasional ambient noise, but really there’s not much to say about it. Sound quality is definitely not a strong point of “Fading Shadows”.

Gameplay, however, is a strong point. “Fading Shadows” takes the marble concept and kicks it up to the next level. Instead of controlling the marble or the level itself, players control a beam of light, which can be used to attract the ball or interact with the levels in various ways. The stronger the beam, the faster the ball moves towards it. Using this mechanic, you can control the ball fairly well in most cases, although there are times when more control over the orb would be very favorable, but it’s not game breaking at all. Aside from the beam of light’s impact on the orb, the orb can also be changed into 3 various forms. The base form is metal, while the wood and glass forms come as you need them. Each form impacts how the ball performs in water, but not much else seems to be impacted at all by the form of the orb. Using those 3 forms and the beam of light, the object is essentially to solve puzzles and get to the end of each level, just like in other titles of the same genre. It’s a very simple concept, but in most cases, it’s extremely fun to play. The later levels are especially fun for those who like a degree of challenge, but some people are likely get frustrated and put the game down for a while. As for the multiplayer, there’s basically no reason to play it. It’s pointless and for the most part, fairly boring. The concept is just to see which player finishes a level first, but there’s no player interaction at all. Still, multiplayer is not a necessary component of this title and while there’s not much reason to replay this, serious fans of the puzzle genre will no doubt find it in their hearts to go through the main game again at some point after completing it. In summary, this game is awesome.

Overall, I don’t think anything that could redefine the genre has been done in “Fading Shadows”, but this is a rock solid game that will surely entertain puzzle fans for a good while.

Pros:
-Stunning visuals.
-Perfect difficulty scaling.
-Amazing story for a puzzle game.
-Feels very different from other games of the same style.

Cons:
-Completely generic music and sound.
-Controls could have been a bit better.
-Multiplayer is fairly boring.

Bottom Line:
Puzzle fans will definitely want to give this game a real chance, but anyone else may want to rent or borrow this game before shelling out the money to buy the game.

Overall Rating: 8.00

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