Game Review

A Shadow's Tale Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

See the light

Even a cursory look at Hudson’s A Shadow’s Tale (known as Lost in Shadow in North America) should be enough to convince you it’s not just another 2D platformer. Whilst New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns hark back to those series' 2D glory days, A Shadow’s Tale is more forward-thinking, combining platforming and puzzles to create something fresh and rewarding.

The game’s sun-baked visual style helps the boy’s shadowy figure to stand out, and the way the game plays with perspective as his shadow hits the background is masterfully done. Whilst you only ever move in the 2D plane, clever use of background architecture helps to give the game plenty of depth as the boy’s shadow moves towards and away from the camera at certain sections.

Your aim in each floor is to find three keys in order to proceed to the next stage, as well as locating memories that increase your life bar and hold secrets about the tower and the boy’s life. Completing a stage opens up passage to the next floor, but should you die you return to the floor’s entrance, so you’ll need to be careful in the game’s trickier portions.

As you can only interact with shadows, being able to manipulate light becomes key, and at select points in your journey you’re able to alter the angle and direction of the light source. This can totally change the layout of platforms and walls, opening up new routes and solving puzzles with a simple slider, although there’s sometimes more trial and error than thought required to pass.

Other smart uses of light and shadow come in the Shadow Corridors; these are essentially self-contained platform sections that often require you to rotate the whole stage 90º to find a viable route. Handheld gamers may recognise a similar mechanic from Sega’s PSP title Crush, but it’s used cleverly here and results in some truly mind-bending puzzles, with one false move enough to send you back to the corridor’s restart point.

A short while into the game you find a rusty sword, which you can use to attack with a simple tap of B, letting you take down the red-eyed beasts that defend the tower. For each enemy vanquished you gain experience which in turn increases your strength, though as your enemies frequently become tougher this doesn’t have quite the impact you’d expect. Combat is a predictably two-dimensional affair, and you often get the feeling its inclusion was down to a desire to inject some action into the otherwise mostly sedate game, rather than as a vital part of its overall design.

In fact, one of the game’s best combat moments is one where you’re not directly attacking anything: a terrifying shadow monster chases you up the tower and you must activate switches to bathe it in damaging light. It’s a surprisingly exhilarating chase considering it’s one shadow chasing another, but for the most part you’ll be swinging your sword and following with a jump to dodge; not the most thrilling of swordplay.

Similarly pared-down but in a positive way is the game’s soundtrack. There’s no music here, just subtle sound effects befitting the world: the clank and groan of metal constructions, screeches of shadowy spiders and a subtle palette of many other background sounds builds up an audio picture that suits the game’s graphical style better than you might expect.

In any other package, A Shadow’s Tale would have been a simplistic, almost predictable puzzle-platformer of switches, ladders and moving platforms. Its first stages are spell-binding as you learn to explore and exploit its 2D world of light and darkness, and the manipulation of shadow occasionally borders on brilliant, but the new ideas peter out before the end and you repeat many puzzles in slightly different settings.


A classic case of visual style over playable substance, A Shadow’s Tale still has enough graphical and audio flair to convince you to forgive its less original features, and there’s more than enough moments of enjoyment to make the purchase worthwhile. What could have been another must-have Wii 2D platformer, A Shadow's Tale is still worth your time as long as you keep your expectations in check.

From the web

Game Trailer

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Hudson releases the fourth and final chapter in the Lost in Shadow documentary which takes a look at the pre-launch secrets

User Comments (40)



Zach said:

Sounds awesome. Maybe I'll pick this one up. Great review, James!



Raylax said:

Ehe, that should be Hudson's slogan. "Brilliant concepts, lacklustre delivery."

Still, at least it's decent. I might look into this when it goes second-hand.



Caliko said:

When I was very little I used to make my fingers like a little person and platform on silhouettes.

I'm very excited for this.



irken004 said:

I still think this would be a perfect fit for Wiiware with a lower price.




Sounds really good, but I assume it eventually gets repetitive. A good idea spread thinly over a full retail release game



Odnetnin said:

Thanks for the review, would've gotten it if it was better and I didn't have Donkey Kong to tide me over.



James said:

@irken004 It's actually a pretty big adventure, far too big for WiiWare. It is worth a buy but go in with your eyes open!



Corbs said:

I'm anxious to play some more levels to see how it is. I was worried the novelty might begin to wear off after awhile. Great review J Man!



Gamesake said:

Visual style over playable substance? I guess that makes this the Wii's Chrono Trigger. I still plan on playing this game for myself.



Corbs said:

@Gamesake - You should be struck dead by the gaming gods for that comment.

@J - Thanks. Can't wait to take it for a spin.



irken004 said:

@James I didn't mean in terms of the game's size, I meant just the gameplay type. Wiiware needs more games like this!



Fuzzy said:

Nice thorough review James. I reckon I'll pick this up if I find it for a good price.



Xkhaoz said:

I've been keeping this one on my radar for a bit. I'll pick it up when the price goes down.



Mewtwo_Ex said:

In my opinion, the last stages were the most interesting. The begining was a bit boring. Too bad there is only one real boss... I fully agree with the 7/10.



SuperMarioFan96 said:

Hmmm, might get it. My birthday IS in February so.......
Or I could convince my parents to wait and get me a 3DS?



accc said:

I don't agree, the game deserves at least an 8, maybe a 9. The platforming was extremely solid, and the game has a ton of longevity for a 2D platformer, with the levels getting extremely large and involved as you go along and new paths opening up in earlier levels once you acquire a certain ability late in the game. While I agree that the puzzles were pretty rudimentary for the most part, the fact is that they weren't really the main focus of the game. I'd say the ratio of platforming to puzzle solving is about the same as Klonoa for the Wii, and the quality and difficulty of the puzzles were about on par with that game too, so why should this game lose so many points for its puzzles compared to that game (which this site gave a 9)? Doesn't seem fair if you ask me.



Deviant_Mugen said:

I was sure this game would be at least an 8, but I'm sure that once I get to play it, my score for it will be much higher. Great review, James...



WiiLovePeace said:

I totally agree with comment 24, accc. James got this review wayyyy wrong This game is truly something special & definitely deserves a 9. I guess he didn't appreciate the beauty in it's slow-moving gameplay



cornishlee said:

Unfortunate that this should be released at the same time as DK, Kirby and Sonic. By my reckoning, there have been two really great 2D platformers in the Wii's life cycle (New Super Mario and Wario Shake It) before now. To release this at the same time as the three games I just mentioned means that the game will likely be overlooked by fans of the genre who might otherwise have given it a chance in the absence of anything else.



MrB4 said:

Had my eye on this for awhile, nice to see it's at least a fun experience despite a few issues.



James said:

@FantasiaWHT But "whilst" is a staple of British English! We Brits love our archaic terms

As for the debate around the score, my heart was telling me to go with an 8 on this one, but under our scoring policy it's dictated as a 7/10, which is still a recommendation, remember! Get it and you'll enjoy it, but you've been warned



cornishlee said:

@James Newton

"@FantasiaWHT But "whilst" is a staple of British English! We Brits love our archaic terms "

On fieldwork this year, some American students quizzed my use of the word 'incidentally'. I tried to persuade them that it was a much better word than their 'beeteedubs',



EdEN said:

I'll be getting this next year thanks to the gift cards I'm sure to get over the holidays.



theblackdragon said:

@James: i do believe the key word there was 'students'... also, it'd probably depend on where in the US they were from, lol. i had to look it up just now, never heard that word before myself :3



cornishlee said:

@James Newton

These ones did. As theblackdragon points out, it's probably an artefact of them being students as much as anything else.



MeloMan said:

I can't help but agree with irken on this. This game is Wii-ware material, even if it had to be scaled down a touch and broken into episodes. Once I read that the originality fades part way through, that let's me know that there's repetitive gaming going on just for length but not worth (being a retail release i.e.), so for that, there's probably comparatively a matching amount of gameplay and graphics in all the episodes of Lost Winds as is Lost in Shadow's, but I digress, only my opinion and Lost Winds isn't even done with it's series yet. I still want to play it, but I'll wait for it to be about $20 or less first.



thanos316 said:

i like the concept of this game. we need more titles like this. good review. i might just have to get this game and add it to the stellar wii offerings this year. this is definitely the year of the wii.



Monkeh said:

Lol, always thought this game would be released on WiiWare. I'll probably buy it, when it's in the bargainbin.

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