You’re alone and confused– a shadow ripped from your physical body and thrown to the bottom of a huge tower. You don’t even remember what’s going on. All you know is that you must return to the top of the tower in order to find yourself. So begins one of the most unique platformers in a great while.
This is Lost in Shadow, a game that definitely stood out amongst other prominent titles at E3 this year. It stands out because of the beautiful art style and intriguing variation on the classic gameplay conventions of the platformer.
The game was inspired by the producer’s memories of playing shadow tag when he was younger, and that is a huge part of the game. You control the shadow of a boy, and instead of interacting with the tangible world around you, you’re confined to running around on the shadows cast by the physical environment. This means that obstacles that would be easy to bypass in the physical world, such as a small pole, become impassible as shadows.
However, there is hope. Your character is helped along on his journey by a Spangle, a winged sylph that can interact with certain part of the physical world. At any time you can bring up Spangle’s scanning feature by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen to try and find objects that can be swung, pulled or extended, thereby moving the shadows that block you and often creating new platforms to reach other areas.
But Spangle is not the only means of interacting with the physical world. In the demo there were times when the boy would interact with the shadow of a lever and moving the shadow would also move the lever. Another example are traps discovered early on in the game. If the boy stands on their shadow too long, the bottom falls out from under him, so a careful eye must be kept for these pitfalls. These puzzle elements really make the game world feel more realized, but the boy and Spangle are not alone. There are more dangers to be overcome than simple pitfalls.
Early on in the adventure, the boy will also find a sword that will allow him to fight enemies he runs into. During the demo it was explained that one of the reasons the boy was cast out of his body was because the keeper of the tower needed him to take care of the monsters located in the tower. As the story advances the boy will find more powerful swords to defeat the monsters he encounters.
The game looks fantastic with an art style that is vaguely reminiscent of Ico. One early scene in the game has the boy running through an area where the background is shifting and shadows jump realistically from foreground to back ground. Subtle touches like this just make the game feel magical.
This really just scratching the surface. The game shines with the little, intricate details, such as the fact that the game is told through “memories” which also increase the boy’s weight until he is 21 grams, the old wives’ tale for the weight of a human soul. Lost in Shadow is set to hit retail some time this fall for $40. We will be sure to bring you a review of this intriguing game when it is released.