Reviewed: September 6, 2008
Released: August 12, 2008
Portable gaming devices such as the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable are quickly becoming an outlet for puzzle games in todayís market. Titles such as Puzzle Quest, Marble Madness, Myst and Bejeweled have all found a home on our beloved handhelds.
I would now like to enter another puzzle game into the fray with the release of and my review of Ivolgamus and Agetecís Fading Shadows for the PSP. This title is a unique blend of gameplay that gets it roots from titles like Marble Madness.
The story behind Fading Shadows, yes there is a story plot, is that the Evil Master Gardal is up to no good and wishes to over through the Castle of Heaven. To breach the walls, Gardal with the help of his two minions Quiph and Morg must sacrifice the purest, untainted soul of Erwyn who is prophesied a loooong time ago.
Even though they captured the boy, they never expected the boyís clairvoyant sister to seal his soul into a single teardrop and encase it in a protective orb. Only she should have used an orb made of sturdier stuff. Iíll explain a bit later.
Gameplay wise, Fading Shadows has a pretty straightforward agenda which involves you getting an orb from one side of a puzzle filed area to the other. To do this you must use a beam of light that I assume comes from Heaven to direct the orb around. But the fun starts as soon as you can take control of the light. The beam of light can be intensified into a solid beam of light or widened to weaken your hold on the orb given the situation.
However the beam of light isnít the only thing with various modes. The orb itself can be transformed into wood, glass and the default material Ė metal. The metal and wood states are activated by running the orb over their respective markers, which coincidentally are used as checkpoints. This is a good thing as some of these puzzles are a bear and not ones youíll want to repeat. The third state once gained can be activated anytime by hitting the Triangle Button.
As you traverse through Fading Shadows various puzzles you will need to understand each of the forms weaknesses and strengths to get through without sacrificing an orb. If you run out of orbs its game over, pal. The Metal form is impervious to the intense beam of light, which you can also use to make it jump/double jump, but if it falls in water it will rust away in seconds. The Wood form is good for going across water as it floats, but it can be easily turned to dust if the beam of light is too intense. The Glass form will sink in water, useful for hitting submerged switches, but will shatter if hit to hard or overheats and cracks if an intense beam of light is directed on it.
Once you understand these principles your on the right track to beating this title. Fading Shadows is full of puzzles, some which are fairly simple and others that are ingenious and some that are downright wicked. One of the puzzles that Iím particularly fond of is a giant room that requires you to solve 5 different puzzles in order to open a door. I wonít specify which level it is but youíll know when you see it.
As I mentioned above, you can run out of orbs. To make sure you donít, you need to take extra care in your movements and to collect blue gems that are shattered around the levels. For every 10 gems you gain an orb to use.
The one thing that this title needs however is a zoom function. Sometimes it is hard to see what is happening from the elevated plane of view that you are forced to use. You can rotate the camera 45 degrees, which helps but it is not enough when trying to do more complicated maneuvers.
Graphically, Fading Shadows is pretty impressive for a puzzle game. The level of detail on each of the levels is quite good. The levels range from bright and vibrant cities to dark dreary swamps and everything in between. I do admire the physics engine that the developers at Ivolgamus used. Especially when I tripped a lever and it slid a boulder across the ground, creating ripple of earth.
Fading Shadows features some very relaxing music, which is perfectly fine by me. However relaxing it may be though it can get a little annoying at times especially if you are playing it without headphones on a road trip with three other people in the vehicle. But for the most part I have to give to the developers for creating a calming experience.
Value wise, Fading Shadows offers 40 levels of the most interesting single player levels I could ask for. For those seeking a bit more of a challenge two players can connect wirelessly over Ad-Hoc for additional fun. Both players will need a copy of Fading Shadows and then the fun can commence.
The object of the Multiplayer mode is beat your opponent to the end of the same level. Each player has their own beam of light and an orb, neither of which will interfere with the others. The first player to collect three points wins the Match.
All in all, Fading Shadows is a welcome albeit modified blast from the past. Marbles (or orbs) never really died as a means of entertainment. They just evolved with the times. This title is only available exclusively at GameStop and retails for around $20 dollars. I recommend Fading Shadows to anyone looking to try something a little different. If you donít like it then at least you can trade it in for something else at the very least.