Monochrome Paris and Hatinh Interactive are bringing Tandem: A Tale of Shadows to PS5 and PS4 later this year and I’ve been given the chance to play an early preview build. The only complaint I can muster is that it wasn’t longer.
Puzzle games are in no short supply – it seems there’s a new one releasing every week. I didn’t think the demand for such games was there, but the demand is there, apparently, or game developers are working very hard to make it seem that way.
Most puzzle games tend to pass me by because, honestly, puzzle games are not my usual choice when it comes to slouching on the couch in the evening. I like my racers, my action games, my shooters – I’m a basic bitch, really. But every now and again, a puzzle game will come along and suck me in, like the recently released Boxed In. I’ve put more hours than I care to admit into that game…
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows has done enough to secure a place in my head, loyer gratuit, as the developers would say.
The game plays out across two perspectives. You control Emma from a top-down view and you can switch to Fenton the teddy bear who you move around in a side-scroller fashion. The idea is that each level has a crystal that can only be reached by Fenton the bear, but to get there, he needs Emma’s help as the path to the crystal is never straightforward. It is a puzzle game, after all.
Fenton’s world is dark, miserable, and fifty shades of grey, sans the bondage. Emma’s world is bright and full of colour, but it’s seeped in dark Alice in Wonderland vibes. Emma can create shadow platforms for Fenton to navigate to get the end level crystal. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that Emma’s torchlight can be used to manipulate shadows in her world that can be walked along by Fenton the bear when you switch characters, but once I realised, I couldn’t help but smile to myself at how simple but clever the mechanic was.
The first couple of puzzles were fairly straightforward as the game eased me into the mechanics, but later on, things got a bit more inventive. I had to move objects around to direct the light and shadow in a way that worked for Fenton. The game also introduced some giant spider enemies who will eat Emma if she’s spotted. Blocking their line of sight was the key to solving one puzzle, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me five minutes to figure that out, which is about five minutes too long. Once I noticed the moveable barrier with its grips, it was obvious what I needed to do.
Something that stood out was the length of each level. The demo had a total of seven levels from the first chapter of the game and I was done inside 25 minutes. I played through a second time a couple of days later and got that time down to 15 minutes. The length isn’t a problem – it encouraged me to keep going because I knew that each puzzle would only take a few minutes to solve and that I’d be making progress and unlocking new gameplay features. According to the developers, the game has around 45 levels spread across five worlds. I’m hoping that these early levels are short for the sake of making a quick introduction and that the later levels are a touch longer.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows has a great core gameplay structure and the only thing I can really moan about is that the preview demo was over far too soon. I really enjoyed it. The game looks fantastic, plays really well, and it made a nice change of pace from the usual gaming basics I feed myself.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows will release sometime later this year for consoles and PC.
Preview Disclaimer: This preview was carried out using a preview build provided by the developer.