Lost in Shadow

Lost in Shadow
Lost in Shadow Cover
Platforms Wii
Genre Hudson's last hurrah
MtAMinutes to Action 2
Keep Playing? Sure
Buy from Amazon

Hudson Soft. Now there’s a name that you don’t see on game boxes much anymore. The company that used to pump out Bomberman and Mario Party titles wasn’t much of a player this generation, were they?

And it seems we’ll never see the old honey bee logo on another boxart ever again: as of March 1 this year, Hudson Soft is officially dead. The last of its assets have been absorbed into Konami, which will probably put the Bomberman brand to good use and seal Hudson’s other, less milkable properties in the vault.

That makes Lost in Shadow Hudson’s swan song. The company developed and published the  shadow-based puzzle platformer and released it in January 2011 in North America. Like most Hudson games, it found modest critical praise at launch and was quickly forgotten. With Hudson’s recent demise, I guess that makes this as good a time as any to try out the company’s last contribution to gaming.

- I’m seeing shades of Ico and Limbo in Lost in Shadow’s style. No voice work, minimal background music, brick tower architecture, lots of bloom lighting, little boy with a sword fighting spiders, and so on. I think it comes together well, though the shadows, finally of critical importance in a game, suffer from the Wii’s low resolution, and the strange perspective can make some game elements a bit tough to discern.

- No tough challenges thus far in the puzzle platforming, but it does set a higher bar than I expected early on. I can see the early gimmicks, like manipulating light to move shadow platforms, expanding into some mind-benders. The controls are a bit loose for my tastes, but I don’t foresee any major frustrations.

- I was a bit surprised to see combat thrown in. The anonymous shadow boy picks up the shadow of a rusty blade early on in order to swipe at giant spider shadows. There’s really nothing to it: whack the spiders, jump away when they retaliate. I died once when I got wreckless and let a spider pick away at my health bar just to get a few extra hits in, but punishing carelessness doesn’t make the dull swordplay any more worthwhile. There’s potential here, I suppose, but thus far my feeling is that the spider fights are detrimental sideshows to the puzzle platforming experience.

- The transitions between each stage and the presence of a locked elevator on the second floor of the tower imply that there will be backtracking later. I can’t say I’m looking forward to running backwards through these winding stages, though a few shortcuts unlocked in each area should shave a few minutes off each trek.

- Defeating enemies, finding short text “memories,” and other accomplishments reward the player with experience points. I don’t know what these could possibly unlock, but it seems they strengthen weapons and increase maximum health. I don’t know what’s in store for later, but the EXP system seems like an unnecessary addition right now.

Minutes to Action: 2

Would I Keep Playing? Sure. Lost in Shadow doesn’t have the razor sharp focus of indie puzzle platforming hits, nor does it have the grandeur and enchantment of high profile interactive adventures. But it does have a decent gimmick with potential for interesting puzzle scenarios and an inoffensive style. I’ll stick around for a few more hours to see if what lurks in the shadows is worth finding.

Lost in Shadow Logo