Tandem: A Tale of Shadows Review – Clever Puzzles in a Shadowy World

Tandem screenshot, Boiler Room
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows Review – Clever Puzzles in a Shadowy World

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft XBox One, Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Tandem: A Tale of Shadows

Publisher: Hatinh Interactive

Developer: Monochrome Paris

Genre: Action, Adventure

Release Date: October 20th, 2021

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows by Monochrome Paris

In Tandem: A Tale of Shadows, the son of a famous illusionist has gone missing. A young girl by the name of Emma decides to take it upon herself to solve the mystery, so she decides to visit the illusionist’s manor.

And just as her journey begins, she meets and befriends a sentient teddy bear named Fenton. With his help, Emma sets off on her arduous, puzzle-filled journey.

Tandem screenshot, Kitchen

Me and My Shadow (and My Teddy Bear

The main mechanic involves switching back and forth between Emma and Fenton. Emma can walk around the environment via a bird’s eye perspective, while Fenton can walk left and right on a 2D plane. Fenton can also walk and jump on shadows – which Emma can create in order to traverse the environment. It’s a neat mechanic that makes the game feel a bit more involved than just a standard puzzle platformer.

Emma helps Fenton get to switches he can activate to unlock doors. Then Emma can activate other switches to generate new light sources to cast new shadows. I really enjoyed the game’s mechanic, which had me thinking outside the box a number of times.

Narrative is sparse; it just seemed like it’s there to keep me slightly intrigued. I felt like the opening cut-scene and narrative set-up were compelling. I was looking forward to unraveling a mystery but ended up wanting more. I feel like if there was more of a story to get invested in, it could have added extra pizzazz to the game to give it more depth, but it’s clear that the developer’s aim was to create more of a puzzle-solving experience.

Tandem screenshot, Shadow Gif

Little Rooms, Big Dangers

The levels themselves remind me of the smaller levels in mobile games: bite-sized levels that aren’t vast and can usually be completed in a couple minutes. Thankfully, these levels are well-designed and clever enough to keep me playing. Rarely did I feel like I was presented with the same type of challenge over and over again. The game does a good job of making levels and areas of the manor feel different.

Pressure-activated switches, avoiding deadly enemies, environmental traps…each level mixes these things together to create challenging puzzles and obstacles to face. Weird pink cubes in the kitchen area, giant spiders that kill you instantly when spotted, Giant walking plant creatures…there are plenty of unique scenarios to puzzle solve through. The game has plenty of imaginative things to mix up each area, keeping levels feeling different from each other.

Controls are responsive and traversal feels good. There is just enough air control with the game’s jumping mechanic that it never felt frustrating. There are some tricky jumping sequences, and thankfully the game doesn’t go too crazy difficult in this regard.

Ethereal Animations and Spooky Songs

The game is very atmospheric: Think along the lines of a CGI movie in the way it’s animated and stylized. There is this nice modern visual style that makes it look really compelling. The Victorian world in which it’s set in and the way environments swim in darkness are all right up my alley.

Tandem screenshot, Blue Plants

Eerie synth pianos, off-putting horns, echoed chimes, and ethereal female vocals all give off this dark yet mystical feeling. Many times it reminded me of something similar to Danny Elfman’s compositions. There is also a nice variety of mood-setting tracks to not only differential areas of the game but also add or subtract some intensity in certain levels. I really enjoyed the game’s music and felt like it added a lot to the game’s atmosphere.

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is a well-crafted puzzle game that’s well worth your time. It’s like playing a Grimm fairy tale puzzle game – without much story, but it’s a puzzle game through and through. And one that I’d easily recommend.

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is available via the Nintendo Store, the Sony PlayStation Store, the Microsoft Store, Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store.

Check out the trailer for Tandem: A Tale of Shadows below:

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