Published 16.11.2021 00:00
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In My Shadow review

Platformers that rely on experimentation for their puzzle-solving can be tricky to design. On the one hand, you want to create a satisfying-yet-challenging experience, but on the other you don't want to make solutions so difficult or constrained that players feel like they don't have freedom to play with the tools at their disposal. In My Shadow is on such title that starts with a degree of fun freedom to play around with its shadow-based puzzles but devolves by the end into levels that are either too easy to exploit or too hard to overcome.

Shadow play

In My Shadow is a platformer where you manipulate shadows to create paths through a level. The game follows a young woman who is reflecting on her childhood, and her memories of household members like the dog, her brother, and her parents, prompt these shadow levels where you need to navigate to the loved ones the protagonist is thinking about.

You do this by starting each level in kind of a "build mode." There's a room with a few pieces of furniture that you can move around to change the size, shape, and position of the shadows they cast on the walls. Your goal is to arrange these shadows to allow your shadowy avatar to be able to jump and avoid obstacles that can get them to the other side of the room.

Turn the page

As you play In My Shadow, a loose story forms that gives you some insight into the woman's past. Each set of levels focuses on a particular room of her childhood home and as a result is centered on a specific family member. In order to complete these levels, you not only have to reach the people waiting for you at the other side of the screen, but you also have to collect pages of memories placed strategically in each stage.

To be clear, these pages aren't some bonus collectible you can choose to gather or not. If you reach the end of a level without all of the pages collected, you can't move forward. This makes some of the level-building aspects of In My Shadow trickier to figure out, as some pages might be floating above dangerous spikes or be in some other completely out-of-the-way place that you have to build to while also allowing for traversal to the other side of the screen.

Long shadows

In My Shadow isn't the most visually appealing game, but that shouldn't put you off of some of the creative challenges available here. That said, the game does seem to overstay its welcome a little, as the back third of the experience or so feels pretty uneven and unnecessary.

Levels in the late-game alternate between being overly complicated or all too easy to exploit with some fine-tuned furniture nudging. This has some appeal, but eventually just feels like busywork as you race to the credits. Despite having a narrative structure, In My Shadow also doesn't seem to benefit a whole lot from having more length for delivering its story. Thankfully, the game offers a skip level option for anyone who gets hung up or tired of expermenting on levels and wants to try something new.

The bottom line

In My Shadow doesn't quite have what it takes to make its shadowy puzzle-platforming satisfying through all the way to the finish. It starts out with simple fun, hits its apex early, and then teeters off and loses itself on its way to the conclusion. Between this short arc of satisfaction and some of its rough presentation edges, its appeal is somewhat limited.

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