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Video Game / Shadow of Destiny

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An Adventure Game released for the PlayStation 2 by Konami in 2001, and titled Shadow of Memories originally and outside of the US. It was later ported to the PC, Xbox, and eventually the PSP.

The main character of the game is Eike Kusch, a young man who is murdered during the game's first cutscene. Pretty short game? Well, not really — Eike is promptly revived by a being called Homunculus, who offers him the chance to change his fate. Eike, naturally enough, accepts. However, the killer isn't going to be put off by being thwarted just once. If Eike wants to live, he'll have to find the real reason someone's out for his blood, which may be rooted deeper in history than he can imagine.

The game soon falls into a pattern: Eike is killed at the beginning of a level, revived, and then must travel into the past in order to prevent his death from occurring. The plot, however, swiftly becomes very complicated, as details about the reason for Eike's deaths, the possible identities of his killer, and the Homunculus's true motives are brought into play. The choices the player makes over the course of the game retroactively decide Eike's true origin and nature, and determine which of the six possible endings will be shown. Another two endings become available once the first six have been completed.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: "Kusch", a real German surname, should be pronounced so as to rhyme with "push", rather than how the game's cast rhyme it with "hush". More egregiously, the quite common surname "Wagner" is routinely said as if the first syllable is the English word "wag". The PSP redub corrects the latter, but "Kusch" remains misspoken.
  • Affably Evil: Homunculus - he's polite and doesn't really do anything evil (with the notable exception of kidnapping people and having them sent into different points in time), but he often leaves disconcerting messages to Eike. Also, his plan isn't as bad as you would think - he just wants to ensure that he isn't Ret-Goned from existence. He's even friendly and chatty with Eike at points, though his default reaction to finding out Eike has been killed and having to pull his soul out of the time stream hovers somewhere between polite amusement and mild exasperation that Eike's taking a while to figure out how to escape death.
    • About the evilest things he does involve killing the doctor or Hugo in two different endings, though Wagner betrayed him and Hugo was trying to kill him. Of course there's the little detail that he owns Eike's soul. The doctor sold his soul to Homunculus for eternal youth and became Eike. It's why he can continually be brought back.
    • To add on to the politeness, in one of the endings Homunculus only needs to collect the digipad from Eike to wrap up his plan. Instead of just taking it, he reminds Eike beforehand that he's forgotten to return someone to their own time and lets him do so if he wants.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Homunculus. He's referred to as male and has a male voice, but you'd be forgiven for thinking he was a girl.
  • Artificial Human: Homunculus, or so the story initially wants you to believe. He's actually an evil, ancient djinn of unknown origin.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Hugo figured out how to make a time machine just by looking at the Digipad for a couple of seconds. And he was able to build one in the sixteenth century!
  • Back Stab: Happens to Eike at least three times; First in the beginning, then in the second and fourth chapters.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In Ending B, Eckhart sneaks up on Hugo from behind and wrestles him to the ground, effectively saving Eike and Margarette.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Almost all of them qualify, but the EX endings take the cake. In this route, Eike, having gained Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory from previous time loops, uses his newfound knowledge to make better decisions that ultimately result in him undoing the chain of events that led to the creation of Homunculus and the various tragedies that followed. This is especially true if Eike choses to hand over the Philosopher's Stone to the Wagners and instructs Wolfgang to make an elixir out of it to save Helena's life, ensuring that the Wagners live a happier, content life in this new reality, with Wolfgang avoiding the twist of fate that gave birth to the ageless amnesiac (Eike). Sadly, this action also causes Eike to vanish from existence, but he's fine with it, knowing that he did the right thing while also freeing himself from the cruel fate that bound him to Homunculus, and he "dies" with a smile. The last scene cuts to the present day, now featuring a young man who looks exactly like Eike save for wearing different clothes, and it ends with a solemn narration from Eike indicating that he's been reincarnated with his ripple-proof memory still intact, happy with his new life in the 21st century but also saddened by the fact that all the bonds and friendships he made from his previous time travels have been erased, with no way to know what became of the people whose lives he had touched but cannot help anymore, though he takes comfort in believing that they've all led good lives, with or without him.
  • But Thou Must!: Sending Dana back in time with you during Chapter 2 is unavoidable. If you attempt to move away from the spot next to her when the Digipad activates, she simply stops you.
  • Complexity Addiction: Eike's schemes to prevent his demise are comically complicated. A notable example is going back in time, saving a woman from harassment, meeting said woman's family, and then performing a minor fetch quest all to prevent a tree that the killer will hide behind from ever being planted rather than just not standing near the tree.
    • Other hare brained schemes include telling a man in the 1900's to build a library so that Eike can research the cure to Sea Hare poison in the present, and find some even further back in the past (as opposed to not eating the poison). Giving an aspiring film-maker a pep-talk so his film poster gathers a crowd to scare away an assassin (instead of not walking out at night). He also uses a long chain of deals involving a faberge egg expy to tell his own past self to get a street sign/frying pan to use as makeshift body armor to avoid getting stabbed, instead of just say, getting the pan himself.
    • To top it all off, Eike could have spent one jump to spy on or directly confront the killer. Even if it failed, knowing the identity of the killer would have let him resolve the plot in at least half the time.
    • This is however explained by the fact that the Digipads & Homunculu's power to go back in time has limitations an it can only go back to certain points.
    • Crosses with But Thou Must!, as even if the player stays in the present and attempts to make Eike do the simple and obvious thing such as those as suggested above (walk away from the tree, not take the poison, etc.) the game forces Eike to either stay where he is for whatever reason and get killed, die by some other means, or triggers a cutscene to cause the death to happen sooner than it would have if he didn't.
  • Dead to Begin With: Eike is murdered before gameplay even begins...
    • Whodunnit to Me?: ...and he spends most of the game trying to figure out who's trying to kill him.
  • Deal with the Devil: Subverted. Eike assumes that Homunculus wants his soul in exchange for bringing him back to life, but Homunculus considers such a deal old-fashioned. This is then Double Subverted in Endings D and E.
  • Developer's Foresight: One strong case lets you skip the entirety of chapter 4. If you stumbled into receiving the strange juggling jester's advice and grabbed a frying pan long before it was even necessary, using it at the beginning of the chapter saves your life from being stabbed, and skips the entire need to travel back in time, dress up as the juggler and then use the message-in-an-egg trick to warn your past self to grab the pan.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The levels set in the distant (1900's) and far past (1500's) are shown as shades of gray and sepia, respectively.
  • Easily Forgiven: Eike, no question. He accepts Mr. Eckhart's apology for trying to murder him without hesitation. More jarringly, in Ending E, he even forgives Hugo despite his multiple attempts to kill Eike!
  • Empty Room Psych: The Cathedral. It's present in every timeline, but can only be entered in two occasions in the present, and it has nothing inside. Well, except for some interesting architecture and an energy unit, but who cares about that?
    • The Wagner's house and parts of the Museum also qualify, both have a lot of nice rooms with nothing in them, not even paintings to add to your 100% Completion.
  • Evil Plan: Homunculus's plot, which was the creation of a Stable Time Loop that would result in his unsealing becoming assured and thus giving him full immortality and protection from Temporal Paradox. In fact, this could be bordering on Gambit Roulette...
  • Exact Words: Homunculus refuses to take Eike's soul in exchange for bringing him back to life. But then again Eike is actually an amnesiac Dr. Wagner in the first place.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Not counting all the time travel, the main story takes place over the course of a single day.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In Ending D, the first hint as to what's going on after Wolfgang Wagner made his wish to be eternally young is how he envied Eike and his youth. And then he transforms into Eike.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early on in the game Homunculus says he needs Eike's help because he's physically so weak he couldn't even lift a small baby. By the end of the game you'll know he's saying that from a very specific experience.
    • There's a reason why the waitress Dana bears a closer physical resemblance to Hugo Wagner than his sister Margarete does.
    • While reading about the sea hare for information on an antidote, one passage mentions that the poison itself no longer exists in the present time, which might make you wonder where the killer got it from.
    • Near the end of the A route, Homunculus creates some kind of construct or fascimile of Dr. Wagner to subdue Hugo. Eike assumes he can call up spirits of the dead and wonders why wouldn't bring the spirit of the aforementioned character instead of a fake. Homunculus points out that he can't call up spirits that aren't dead yet, which is strange, given Wagner should have no way of still being alive 400 years later.
    • Helen notes that Eike's voice reminds her of her husband, Dr. Wagner. This is because Eike is her husband in a way.
  • Fortune Teller: Eike visits one in order to learn the estimated times in which an attempt on his life will be made. She used to be the page image. She's also the result of an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • Gainax Ending: Particularly the EX endings.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: In one of the endings, Eike brings Margarette to the present so she can confront Hugo, who is holding Dana hostage since he blames Eike for making their father disappear. Margarette slaps Hugo, telling him to get it together since Eike was not at fault and, despite both of their parents being gone, they still have each other and are still a family. Hugo apologizes and goes back home with his sister.
  • Gossipy Hens: The two older women and the little girl. Especially their incarnations in the medieval era.
  • Have a Nice Death: "I don't think returning to the present is the way to solve this problem."
  • Identical Grandson: Many of the characters in each era.In every era there are people who resemble the citizens in the other eras. In fact, the main character even lampshades this once. The game ends up subverting it once however, in the biggest plot twist of the game. A character you spend most of the game assuming is your ancestor (though he doesn't exactly resemble you) turns out to be you.
  • Idiot Hero: Eike takes a mind-bogglingly long time to grasp the full implications of time travel, or even realize that's what's going on at all. Amusingly, he also tends to make ridiculously complicated plans and changes; he might very well be the only instance of someone being both an Idiot Hero and The Chessmaster.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: When confronting a knee-high street barrier, or set of dogs blocking his way, he just says "I guess this is as far as I go." Thankfully these blockades disappear after the first couple chapters.
  • Jump Cut: Since the tutorial dialogue was made using the PlayStation 2's controller layout in mind and the PSP port was redubbed, the PC and Xbox releases awkwardly edit a scene where he's explaining how to use the Digipad shorter instead of redubbing the lines to account for the different face buttons that would be used.
  • Justified Extra Lives: Eike dies many times throughout the game, but he always comes back with Homunculus' help.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Inflicted upon Dr. Wagner by Homunculus so he does not get to enjoy his eternal youth.
  • Literal Genie: Homunculus during Ending E. Although it's fairly obvious, given his personality and actions throughout the game, that he's just being cruel for the sake of it.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Eike is closer to Dana and Hugo than any of them realize....
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Philosopher's Stone.
  • Mind Screw: With a plot designed to make sense after you've played the game six times, it's only to be expected.
  • Multiple Endings: An interesting example, as the game's time travel theme essential means all the endings are possible in their own way.
    • A: Eike discovers the truth about Homunculus it was NOT "created" by Wagner, and it switched Dana and Margarete and the fortune-teller she's the lingering spirit of Helena, Wagner's wife and Hugo's mother. "Wagner", brought back by Homunculus, dissuades Hugo from trying to use the Stone, and Homunculus is destroyed when Eike accidentally breaks the digipad, and everyone returns to their time.
    • B: this ending has two variations, which depends on what truth Eike discovers, the fortune-teller's or Homunculus'. In the former, she sacrifices herself to stop Hugo; in the latter, Eckart manages to dissuade Hugo from killing his daughter. In both cases, Eike doesn't know the whole story.
    • C: Eike travels back in time to prevent Hugo's experiment. This accidentally causes Hugo's death, as he comes in contact with his older self, who taught his younger self how to perform said experiment. As for Eike, he gains a new appreciation for life and the important lesson to cherish everything and every moment he has just before he gets run over by a car.
    • D: Eike creates a paradox by burning Wagner's notes, preventing the story from happening in the first place. A flashback reveals that Eike is Wagner, granted eternal youth but cursed with regularly scheduled amnesia by Homunculus.
    • E: Eike brings Margarete in his time; she then convinces Hugo to drop his plans and return home. Dana stays in the present. In this timeline, Wagner just asks for Homunculus to "get out of his sight," so Homunculus either kills or banishes him. Eike doesn't know that Homunculus switched the two girls.
    • Additionally, two "Extra" endings are available after obtaining all the "normal" ones.
      • EX 1: Eike gives Wagner the Stone, so that he could save his wife. Since Homunculus was never released, the story never happened in the first place.
      • EX 2: Eike gives Homunculus the stone. Poof.
      • In both endings, Eike-as-Wagner disappears from existence, replaced by (or possibly reborn as) an unexplained doppelganger or descendant in the present. Instead of being stabbed, a Hugo counterpart accidentally kicks a soccer ball into him.
  • My Grandson, Myself: Eike, though he doesn't know it.
  • My Own Grampa: In Chapter 3, Eike meets Eckhart Brum whose cat has just had a large litter of kittens. Later, Eike meets Alfred Brum, Eckhart's grandfather who has a daughter named Sibylla who is lonely. So as to console her, Eike decides to give her one of Eckhart's kittens thereby making the kitten its own ancestor.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: If Eike ever touches a past or future self, both get erased from time. Notably, this is one of the only ways you can get a Game Over. In one possible outcome, you can have Hugo erase himself from time when he grabs his older self to protect his sister. Also, one of the secret endings involves you destroying Homunculus by throwing the Philosopher's Stone at him and destroying him. This works because the stone is basically him crystallized as Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • New Game Plus: The EX endings, accessible by playing the game after completing all six regular endings.
  • Omega Ending: The EX endings. After completing all six regular endings, in the opening cutscene of New Game Plus, a new dialogue option is available, indicating that Eike remembers that this has happened before. This allows Eike to defeat Homunculus before his plan is even set into motion (averting You Can't Thwart Stage One), at the cost of disappearing himself as a result.
  • Place Beyond Time: Homunculus' pad. A checkered floor floating in darkness, artfully decorated with broken statuary, strewn books, grandfather clocks, and a floating window. For an immortal genie, he's a bit of a slob. This is where Eike gets dumped after dying. Homunculus mostly hangs here to avoid paradox erasing him from existence if Eike dies.
  • Parental Incest: Ending E, where Eike ends up with Dana, who is his own biological daughter from the medieval period. While neither of them are aware of this though, there is a vestigial remnant of familial feeling as Dana gets a "cool dad" vibe from Eike as he seems (in her own words), "with it all". It doesn't stop them from getting really physically intimate with each other though.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Eike has one of these thrown onto his head. Also Tap on the Head.
  • Ret-Gone:
    • Towards the end of the game in a few endings, Hugo threatens to wipe Eike from existence by leaving Margarette in the current time since she's the ancestress of Eike and Eike can't exist without her being in her own time. Hugo's plan failed due to Homunculus switching Margarette and Dana at birth. The Margarette from the 1500s is actually Dana from the modern era while the Dana that Eike thinks he knows is Margarette from the 1500s. Ergo, the real Margarette is Eike's ancestress. By keeping the real Dana in the past, Eike would continue to exist regardless of what happened to "Margarette". The switch also explains why waitress "Dana" feels lost with her life in the current time and why she wants to stay in the past in certain endings.
    • Two endings causes a character to be wiped from existence if they come into contact with their past selves. In one ending, Hugo dies after touching his future self and in an extra ending, Eike knows that Homunculus came from the Philosopher's Stone, thus he chucks said stone at him to erase him.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Eike down to a tee. Despite being the main character, he shows no depth or any characteristics that make him stand out. Eckhart Brum in fact has much more depth and complexity and he appears only a few times on screen. Eike may also fall into the category of Socially Awkward Hero as he bumbles around most conversations. This is eventually subverted, however, once the player figures out who Eike really is and all the things he's done that led to his present condition.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: This is how Eike can get the EX endings. The dialog options on the New Game Plus change to reflect that he knows he's had this happen before. Armed with new knowledge, he can change his actions and make faster, better decisions that ultimately end for the best, albeit resulting in him erasing his own existence as "Eike".
  • Screw Destiny: One of the main themes of the game is that you can choose your fate, as demonstrated by Eike.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Ending C. Oh, God, Ending C. Eike appreciates life and the simple things as he lies down in the middle of the street. Then he gets run over by a drunk driver and dies.
  • Spiritual Successor: Time Hollow for the Nintendo DS, made by the same writer.
  • Splash of Color: The colors change depending on the time period that Eike travels to; the 1980s have the colors muted, the 1900s are in black and white, and the 1500s are in sepia tone. Eike himself doesn't change colors, making him stand out a lot. Hugo and Margarette are in sepia tone colors, but they gain normal colors when they time travel to the present.
  • Story to Gameplay Ratio: The game is very story-heavy, essentially being a lengthy film with a few intermittent bursts of gameplay in between.
  • Switched at Birth: Dana and Margarete by Homunculus. The real Margarete Wagner was born in the late 1500s and was dropped off in 1981. By 2001 she is working as a waitress at the Cafe Somme. The real Dana was stolen from her dying mother's arms in 1981 and sent to live with the Wagners, growing up as Margarete.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In Chapter 5 Eike has his food poisoned with the sea hare poison.
  • Time Travel
    • San Dimas Time: Used to give each level a half hour time limit.
    • Stable Time Loop: The game is full of these, lots of them in optional sidequests. In fact, the main plot could be considered a stable time loop.
    • Timey-Wimey Ball: There are times where the game doesn't seem to follow its own rules.
    • Tricked Out Time is how Eike survives a good deal of his deaths.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Eike probably would have survived Ending C if he wasn't laying on the road. Homunculus even warned him beforehand that his life was in danger, and he ignored him.
  • Wham Shot: The D Ending has Homunculus de-age Dr. Wagner, making him look exactly like Eike.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: One of the main themes of the game is you can't fight what's coming to you, as demonstrated by Homunculus. (Yes, this directly contradicts the Screw Destiny theme. We told you it was a Mind Screw). For example, Dana and Margarete (two characters switched at birth and are from different time periods) both wish to return to their respective time periods without realising it. And when Eike attempts to save Eckhart's wife from being shot in the past by telling her to go a different way, she ignores him twice and gets shot, dying while her baby is taken. He only saves her on the third attempt by actively chasing her and pulling her out of the way of the gunshot, and her baby is still taken from her in the confusion.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Averted in the extra endings.

Alternative Title(s): Shadow Of Memories