In My Shadow Review
A Relaxing Imaginative Platformer
There's something emotionally deep about shadows. Perhaps a poetic symbolism of a lingering darkness that exists whenever we face a hopeful light. And the closer we get... the larger that dark shadow becomes.
In My Shadow tells it's compelling story perhaps using that kind of symbolism as it's core mechanics. You, as the player, delve into the memories of a woman as a child silhouette on the walls of a playhouse. This house represents the woman's childhood home. Within the rooms, you're given a set number of objects to use to project shadows upon the walls. Your self-reflected silhouette can use these shadows as platforms to reach the level's objectives and ultimately progress through the story. Essentially, you need to collect diary pages and then meet the character waiting for you at the end. You'll learn more about her past and (hopefully) help the woman confront some lingering regrets and disappointments.
An Emotional Story
The story tingles a little at those sensitive emotions we have... especially with those related to family. Immediately, you sense a sad aura around the woman character you follow with gloomy scenes. She sits in a dim empty room glimpsing at some disregarded text messages from a seemingly loving family. You're left asking "What happened to you girl!?". I just give her a nice big therapeutic hug and listen to all her problems (well as the player you do anyway).
Each of the house rooms have a specific theme related to the woman's past. The past memories start happy and loving and completely take a 180 degree turn by the end. The game levels provide an amount of foreshadowing of a loss with the goal, in the form of an important character to the woman, vanishing away shortly after reaching it/them/him/her.
This game certainly doesn't hide conveying some sad truths to life situations that many of us could relate to. I believe the game does a great job throwing us in that emotional rollercoaster. But how do these events sum up her present? You'll have to take that ride for yourself!
Countless Ways to Solve
There's a big aspect to this game I like: the possibility of numerous solutions to each puzzle. Meaning, as you play the game, you can probably solve the challenges in ways that have never been tried before. In fact, in my stream playing it, I had the honor of having the Developer PlayBae join in and congratulate me on a solution he had never seen before! After being really slow on other Levels, this felt like a huge score! It leaves the game open to a variety of thinking: creative, logical, tester, or like me, the rusty thinker. It makes the levels fun to replay if you want to try a different position of the shadows.
There's a great depth of ingenuity involved in designing a game with nearly endless solutions - and shadow projection is an incredibly imaginative way to achieve this. I absolutely love how I can rotate and move complex shapes to attempt projecting the optimal platform for my character. I especially love it when my object orientations actually work!
However, this kind of implementation for countless solutions can make it too easy to solve for some players. The entirety of the game can be completed in as little as two hours. This may lead some players not feeling challenged enough. A lot of the reward feeling from a game originates from a sense of earned accomplishment. Although... I took two hours just getting through the first half of it; so it definitely depends on the person. But even I felt like there was a little challenge or “punishment” missing, while my community in chat on my stream discussed this with PlayBae, he admitted he might add something to add more of a challenge for those who wish it. Perhaps only a certain amount of moves per level or timed? I am very intrigued to see what will come with the next update.
Counter to this "flaw", the game is purposely designed not to punish players or prevent them from continuing through the story. In fact, there's an ability to completely skip puzzles without penalty (I believe this could be an area where punishment would be well placed). I think it aims to allow the player to scale how difficult they want the game to be themselves; to cruise through the story at a pace they feel comfortable with.
In summary, the shadow mechanics offer innumerable creative solutions with endless configurations regardless of the kind of player you are. I really hope this idea takes off with more crazy shapes and dynamic objects to play around with in the future, perhaps a “In my Shadow II?”.
It's a Meaningful Platformer for Everyone
With all things considered, In my Shadow is a game for everyone, pretty much…. well…..maybe more the quiet calm gamers, the gamers who love storytelling and a good puzzle to figure out, it’s spot on. I believe gamers who are more into adrenaline, face paced games, this game may be on the slow side for you, but who knows maybe you need a change in pace and something totally different to your usual games. The gameplay sparks creative solutions with unique mechanics that carries meaningful, and perhaps relatable, life conflicts found within any modern family. It's a game I could confidently recommend to my friends, parents, grandparents, or dog as a casual fun puzzle to kill time.
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