Games of the quality of A Shadow's Tale used to fall through the cracks all the time. We used to get all indignant and shouty about publisher indifference to games like Katamari Damacy, Sly Raccoon and Psychonauts and then promptly dish out game of the year awards to make up for the rank injustice. It probably didn't make a lot of difference in the grand scheme of things, but it made us (and the 147 people who bought them) feel a bit better.
In a gaming landscape often mired in the noisy brown mindset of the angry adolescent shooter, it's not that difficult to stand out. You either go bright and colourful, or you go quiet and arty. Either approach will get eyes pointed in your direction, but it helps if you have a game worthy of the attention in the first place.
That's where A Shadow's Tale stumbles. A gentle, oil-painty sort of platform game, it hinges on one simple twist: you're playing as a shadow. At the start of the game, your character – simply called Boy – is suspended in mid-air at the top of a giant tower. A creepy executioner approaches, but his blade severs your shadow, not your head. He grabs this ephemeral off-cut and tosses it over the side.
Here's where you come in. You have to ascend the tower to be reunited with your physical body. As a shadow, you can walk, climb and jump on other shadows, but fall into nothingness if there's only light and solid ground beneath you. The result is, quite blatantly, the original Prince of Persia remade in the style of ICO.
Konami's eye-catching Wii game A Shadow's Tale will be released this autumn in Europe.