First Impressions: Lost in Shadow

We take Hudson's new platformer for a spin

It doesn't take a genius to see that Hudson's upcoming Lost in Shadow release isn't your typical run-of-the-mill platformer. Not only does the game feature a protagonist that's not even a real person, rather his shadow, it also features some absolutely mesmerizing audio and visuals to further make it stand out from the crowd.

Hudson was kind enough to send over a preview build of the game and after spending a couple of hours with it, it's clear that the developers were going for something a little different when they put this unique platformer together and the end result is a game that's as interesting as it is playable.

To begin with, you don't actually control a character, rather you control his shadow. By the same token, you won't run along the actual platforms and wires in the game, but rather their shadows. It might seem a bit confusing, but once you get the hang of watching the shadows instead of the actual platforms in the foreground, you'll soon find yourself maneuvering the levels like a pro. You move your shadow using the analog stick on the Nunchuk and move your tiny winged spirit, called a Spangle, around the screen using the pointer function of the Wii Remote.

As with most platformers you'll find bridges that collapse, moving platforms, and even railway cars to hitch a ride on in order to navigate your way through the game's many levels. When you start the game, you only have the ability to run and jump, although you can latch onto ledges and pull yourself up. Jumping is controlled with the "A" button on the Wii Remote.

Occasionally you'll reach platforms that are out of reach or present a dead end and it's then that you must use the Wii Pointer to search around the screen with your Spangle spirit. If you're able to locate a switch with the Spangle, you can then activate it by pressing the "B" button on the Wii Remote. You can even ride on some of these moving platforms that you activate in order to reach previously unreachable areas.

Your main objective in each level is to locate the three Monitor Eyes that are carefully placed around each area. You'll have to have all three Eyes if you're to break down the Shadow Wall at the end of the level and progress to the next area. Along the way you'll have to deal with many puzzle elements, not to mention a wide array of enemies that must be either avoided or dispatched. As you progress through the game's levels, you'll soon come across a Rusty Sword that will then allow your character to attack and defeat many of these enemies. The levels increase in difficulty fairly quickly, so you'll have to really be on your toes in order to traverse some of the later sections of the tower.

As if all of the moving platforms and puzzle elements weren't enough to deal with, you'll also have to make use of the various light sources in order to bend and move shadows. These range from a simple horizontal or vertical slider that you can adjust using your Spangle, to actual lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling that you can click on and swing back and forth. Anytime you move light, it affects all of the shadows around you. In fact, sometimes this will be the only way you'll be able to progress through a specific section, at least if you can figure out how to do it.

Another unique area you'll be able to explore are the Shadow Corridors. In these unique caves you'll have the power to rotate the levels around 90 degrees to the right or left in order to safely reach the exit. This is where the puzzle element of the game really starts to become challenging and you'll soon find yourself scratching your head while trying to figure out the best way to rotate the level without rotating a shadow on top of your own shadow, thus killing it. This aspect of the gameplay can be quite tricky, but adds a nice twist to the traditional platforming elements.

There are some absolutely gorgeous visuals in the game and enough hypnotic sound effects playing in the background to keep you thoroughly mesmerized throughout the adventure. Since there's really no music to speak of, you'll be able to really get into the actual mood of the game and experience the weird feeling of being in an alternate state of reality, just as your character's shadow is. It's actually quite impressive how the developers have accomplished it, but a nice touch added to an otherwise very enjoyable overall presentation.

We haven't seen a really solid 2D platformer pop up on the Wii lately, so that fact alone makes Lost in Shadow a highly-anticipated release. Couple that with the fact that the game is not only extremely well done from a gameplay standpoint, but also offers an almost surreal audio/visual experience and what you have is a game that could become one of the true sleeper hits for the Wii console. Although Hudson has been catering to the casual gaming audience as of late, this new platformer could just turn out to be the title the more hardcore platforming fans have been waiting for.