“Shadow of Memories” is a 2001 released Visual Novel by Konami in guise of a Third Person Action Adventure for the PS2. Set in the fictive German town of Lebensbaum, the game combines solving a murder case (the protagonist’s very own) with a time travel element and gothic fantasy elements. Like Visual Novels, the game did not offer many possibilities to stray from the predestined path(s), which baffled a portion of its players and reviewers at the time as well as its total lack of action elements in any form. Yet, like Visual Novels, its strengths are its setting, atmosphere and story, which branch into not less than half a dozen different endings. Known as “Shadow of Destiny” in the US, the game was ported to several other platforms: in 2002 it was released in the EU for the original XBox, a short time later a PC version was produced for the west and finally in 2009/2010 it came out for the PSP in Japan and North America.
Reports during development
First mentions of the game on IGN.com were on March 9th, 2000, about one year before its Japan release. In an news entry about the upcoming Tokyo Game Show, article writer Dave Zdyrko announced amongst other Konami games one project called “Walpurgis Day & Night“. At that time, he had no other information to offer. At the end of March, IGN posted another article, this time by Douglass C. Perry. At that time, the game already underwent its first name change, now called “The Day of Walpurgis“. Perry described it as “action/suspense PS2 DVD game“, gave an outline of the story as well as its features and a one-sentence character description of Dana, Margarete, Homunculus, Eckart Brum and the fortune teller. It is noteworthy that this article underpins the assumption that despite the name changes, the plot already was (mostly) in the form we know today and did not undergo drastic changes during game development. One week later, on April 3rd, Dave Zdyrko gave a rather lukewarm description of a trailer shown at the Tokyo Game Show 2000.
Yukikoshi Ike Sato wrote on May 31th, 2000 for Gamespot that “Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo has changed the name of its PS2 title from Days of Walpurgis to Time Adventure. Although a working title, it hints at an adventure-based game involving time travel. The North American title Shadow of Destiny remains unchanged.” So sometime before May 31th, 2000, the game title for North America was set to “Shadow of Destiny”, long before the Japanese and European release would get its final (and akin) title.
On September 25th, 2000, an extensive preview article about “Shadow of Memories” was posted on IGN, showing that at that time the name has been settled. In this preview article, a (non-playable?) demo on TGS 2000 is described: “The demo included a sequence where [game protagonist Eike Kusch]’s trapped in a burning building, surrounded by fire effects and motion blur”, obviously the fire in the “Bar zum Ei” early on in the game. After that, a sentence follows: “Perhaps the strangest, though, was a brief scene unconnected to any other, showing a bizarre piece of machinery spinning around in a dark void, built out of complex metallic rings”. It is not clear what element of the final game is meant.
Noteworthy is that an IGN article on October 17th, 2000, mentions the game to have “over ten chapters, and sees you traveling through four time periods” (Present, 1980, 1902 and 1580), half a year before, on April 1st, IGN reported on the more accurate number of “nine chapters“. In this article, the planned Japanese release for February 2001 was announced.
One final article, released on January 5th, 2001, announced that “Shadow of Destiny, [Konami’s] upcoming survival horror game for PlayStation 2, […] is currently scheduled to ship in March of 2001 in North America.” It discusses “a playable version of Shadow of Memories”, that “Konami displayed for the first time” “at the fall London ECTS”. The demo featured apparently the first chapter, since a “young woman with multi-color hair and hip clothes” is mentioned. The described banter matches that chapter’s exchange with this NPC in the final version. Furthermore, the write-up contains a depiction of the possibility for the protagonist to find himself in the cafe as seen in the game’s beginning: “[…] and if you find a woman at a cafe who looks like she needs help, with her head lowered and covered up with her arms, DON’T touch her. That’s you. And if you touch her you’ll die. Makes sense…right?”
Throughout the year prior to its release, the game was reported as “created by the mastermind of Silent Hill”. Presumably Konami was meant with this; Shadow-of-Memories-writer and producer Junko Kawano was never involved with the original Silent Hill.
Prototype Research website X-Cult.org has a report on an Unused Ending for the PC-version. At this point, we cannot verify this is actually included in the PC port or any other version of the game, or if this ending can may be unlocked in any version of the game.
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