Saturday, October 11, 2008

Linger in Shadows

I downloaded Linger in Shadows on PS3 on a whim. There are no reviews out there (at least at the time), which makes sense - this isn't a game, so why review it as if it were?

 Linger in Shadows is a "demo;" it's designed to experiment with and push the boundaries of videogames. It's more of an interactive cutscene than a game at all. The experience of Linger in Shadows essentially involves watching a narrative segment, throughout which you can interact with key objects and characters by tilting the controller, shaking the controller, or hitting a button. You can also move the film forwards and backwards, going back over the events. The narrative had me twisting my controller to rotate a floating tree, dog, and geometrical shapes. With a scene paused, you can also search the surrounding area for secrets. Linger in Shadows will actually prompt you to do all of this, as there's a certain amount you must do in order to move on to the next segment. It's not necessarily a puzzle though; the demo uses icons to tell you what you should be doing, when you should be doing it. I managed to complete 66% of the demo on my first run through, and subsequently got to 100% completion on my second run through, simply by being a little more thorough.

Linger in Shadows' narrative didn’t add up for me, but I did enjoy the experience. I wish it felt a little more like a Chinese puzzle box, offering layer after layer of new information, sending you down a virtual rabbit hole. However, for three bucks it really doesn’t disappoint.

I particularly appreciate that Linger in Shadows introduced me to the demoscene; it’s exciting to learn about a new “underground” culture. The fact that this exists on a gaming console seems potentially contrary to the idea of being underground, but it’s pretty cool that Sony’s machine hosts it.

Ultimately, I did find myself thinking about new gaming possibilities. For instance, quick-time events are pretty common these days, but they stick to a pretty simple formula; press the button displayed on the screen when it’s displayed. If you fail, you die or start over. My hope is that in God of War 3, Kratos will no longer use this old formula, but instead react in real time. Perhaps when you twist your controller during a movie, you’ll be able to dodge an enemy’s attack, or perhaps you’ll be able to rewind instead of simply starting over. Metal Gear Solid already introduced some similar elements as well; I hope these are all signs of innovation to come.

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