Linger In Shadows Review

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Linger In Shadows Publisher: Plastic
Developer: Sony

Platform: PlayStation 3
Reviewed on PlayStation 3

Linger in Shadows is fancy arty stuff. As such, you could argue that reviewing it makes as much sense as reviewing wallpaper or a theme for the PlayStation 3. But the difference is simple. While emerging from the culture of "Demoscenes," Linger in Shadows is billed as interactive art. If it's interactive, it's fair game for a review. Furthermore, it's on the PlayStation 3 (aligning it more closely with games), and since it costs something ($3), Linger in Shadows doesn't get a free ride.

Kyle Ackerman

Demoscenes are produced by one of computerdom's many geeky subcultures, an overlap of sorts between artists and programmers who produce animated artistic works that run in real time on a computer (unlike most animated films, that are rendered by huge computational farms). Demoscenes can be cool to watch, especially if you are into the wonderful and strange imagery that emerges from works that are effectively cut-scenes in search of a game. They are also a great way to pitch yourself to prospective employers, in a "look what I can do" way. Unfortunately, Linger in Shadows is far better as a portfolio piece than as interactive art, and isn't the sort of thing the average PlayStation 3 owner will want to pay $3 to experience.

If you just watch Linger in Shadows, what you have is a six-minute-and-50-second animation (a chunk of which are credits) that is a surreal visual piece involving ravenous darkness, Eastern European apartment buildings, classical sculpture, flying dogs and a Matrix-like flying drone.

Linger In ShadowsBut you aren't expected to watch Linger in Shadows. Remember – it's interactive art. That means that, occasionally, you are expected to shake or twist the controller. Most of the time this results in the irrelevant rotation of an object in the scene. Sometimes this makes Linger in Shadows very slightly like a hidden object game, in that there are hidden visuals to discover. Sometimes, these actions completely transform the visuals and transport you to a different scene or change the action. Honestly, Linger in Shadows would be more enjoyable if it were a pure, non-interactive Demoscene. Then I wouldn't constantly feel like I'm supposed to do something I just don't care about. I could just enjoy the visuals.

Probably the biggest indication that Linger in Shadows doesn't work is that one of the main menu options takes you to an explanation designed to convince the user that Linger in Shadows is something different. The game itself says, "Linger in Shadows is an experiment into the realm of Interactive Digital Art. It is not meant to be a game. Sometimes this gets confused because it is on the PlayStation 3 and it goes well outside the norm of games."

Linger In ShadowsThat's a valid point, but here's the problem: The game itself demands in that text that you pretend it resides in a different context than that in which it's found. It's supposed to be interactive and it's on hardware nearly universally considered a gaming device. I don't expect it to adhere to many of the conventions of games, in that Linger in Shadows doesn't need clear goals, challenges or accomplishments. But it does have to be engaging, and it isn't. In fact, the interactivity in Linger in Shadows undermines what would be an interesting artistic piece because the interactivity is so shallow and irrelevant. Worst of all, Linger in Shadows awards trophies for certain activities, adding a sense of clear "game" goals to those stuck in conventional gaming paradigms.

If you care about trophies, you can unlock a bunch for the $3 Linger in Shadows costs with little effort, but there's not much remaining merit to Linger in Shadows. It's an interesting few minutes of art, but not meaningfully interactive or engaging, and certainly not worth the measly $3 that it costs.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on October 12, 2008 7:24 PM.

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