In My Shadow is a puzzle platformer formed by memories of a girl trying to piece together stories of her past. Is it worth the journey though? Let’s Find out; The Finger Guns Review.
In My Shadows is a puzzle platformer that knows exactly what it is trying to be. The game opens with Bella, a young woman who has seemingly fallen estranged from her family and doesn’t know how to respond to her fathers unexpected contact.
In My Shadow then opens with Bella’s childhood house, each room with a new theme, a new design and a new story to unlock and uncover. While playing through the levels in her house, it will be important to make sure you capture the memory she is trying to return to.
The game comprises an interesting mechanic where it isn’t Bella you’re expected to play with, but her shadow. Bella will need to travel from one side of the room to the other collecting her memory snippets along the way to reach the character of her story she is facing. Along the way, furniture will need manipulation to help you reach the other side.
Furniture and objects that you use to traverse your level can be moved in a multitude of ways. At first this starts simplistically and allows you to move directionally. As level progression continues, you’ll be able to rotate objects to give you advantages on height and angle. The levels are dynamic and you’re not always playing with the same object and there is a range that will test your wit on how you’ll be able to move.
The obvious route won’t always be the right one. As Bella continues throughout her journey you will find that there may be many different ways to get from A to B. Obstacles however will get in your way, and more objects will need to be put in play to help Bella.
There are two modes to In My Shadows, the actual mode where you place everything you feel is going to help Bella collect all her memory snippets, and the mode where Bella’s shadow will need to be moved.
Furniture and objects will not be able to be moved once Bella has started moving, which can be seen as a pro and con depending on what way you look at it. There were times I felt frustrated that my whole level would reset, putting Bella back at the beginning just for the sake of moving a box the tiniest of millimetres to the left. Conversely, it makes you really think about your set up and placement, especially in the later levels when a lot of objects and obstacles are in play.
The Floor Is Lava
Each room greets you with around 10-12 levels, with 50 levels overall to playthrough and discover. There are some pretty cool mechanics that get added in later on, such as fragile boxes, or shadows that don’t move at all, but other than that In My Shadow plays out like one giant game of ‘The Floor is Lava’. The difficulty curve is punishing, and it can feel at times that there is literally no way out but to just restart the level or skip it. The game does give you the option to skip levels at no consequence of gameplay or the story which is handy, but far too tempting. It does appear there are multiple ways to help Bella get from A to B, but sometimes a solution isn’t always apparent.
Obstacles are usually in the form of rotating saw blades or spikey floors. As levels get harder, these nasty spikey circles will start to move around, adding the extra dynamic of not only your position but your timing with Bella.
In My Shadow makes almost no effort to give you a helping hand, or a hint of how to get memory snippets and I think the added complexity of needing to capture all memories before moving on, can decrease the motivation to finish and increase the enthusiasm to skip the level. Which is a shame. If you find yourself stuck on a level, there really is no way out, other than to keep persevering or simply skipping and moving on.
It seems a bit lackluster to not even offer guidance, which will likely be needed for future levels if you had an idea on how to finish the level you are stuck on, rather than arbitrarily skip it. Alternatively allowing players to collect what they could and come back to it when their skill is developed would be handy but In My Shadow’s doesn’t allow for that. This game has a great idea with a solid foundation attached, but lacks the spark I needed to keep my attention.
Don’t expect to play with your conventional button choice either. It was something I didn’t know if In My Shadow did on purpose to be different, or it was a choice simply overlooked, but typical jump buttons were remapped to non typical areas on the Switch console. A game that needs precision, timing and perfect movement, it felt like an odd choice to not be able to remap the buttons. There is no use for the A button, and B was mapped for Jump. When you have a small space to work with, and a lot going on, you want the safety of familiarity. In My Shadow plays it their way.
The stories are short, and it is important to commend the thought that has gone into the story of Bella and her family. It’s good to be able to have each room play out its own unique story around her memories as opposed to one long drawn out narrative.
The game time runs from anywhere between 2 and 4 hours depending on how quick you figure out your levels. It felt a real shame for me that I just felt a little bored moving through. There were times whilst playing where the satisfaction of finishing a seemingly difficult level really made me feel good, but this was few and far between. More levels just add additional difficult obstacles and more furniture.
It’s difficult to recommend this game, when so many other puzzle games have better structure, motivation and mechanics. Being fair, this game has an interesting premise and a nice atmosphere. I can see the appeal to anyone who does enjoy repetition and a stiff challenge, where it feels solely about the puzzle and not the overall experience. However, if you are looking for a game which includes depth, variety, dynamic character and story progression, this might not be the one.
In My Shadow has all the fundamentals of a puzzle game, but feels lackluster when up against its rival puzzle platformers that have been released this year. Despite housing an engaging story, with a unique premise and lots of levels, it just feels mundane, tedious and repetitive to play, especially with its punishing difficulty curve.
In My Shadow is out now on Steam and Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Developer: Playbae / Private Limited
Publihser: Alcon Interactive Group / Overgamez
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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