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The Shadow You Review – Romance and Horror in a Dreamy Anime World

The Shadow You game, featured image courtesy Steam

The Shadow You by Topchan Games

The Shadow You is a point-and-click adventure game with a striking anime art style and a narrative weaving between two distinct scenarios in vastly different settings. Focusing on a dreamlike romance of sorts contrasted against a horror setting in a nightmare world, The Shadow You is an experimental narrative that packs in a variety of challenges along the way.

Dreams and Nightmares

The Shadow You opens with an isolated setting that establishes an early mystery to loom over the story as it progresses. This opening introduces the two primary characters: star-crossed lovers Ophelia and Kiel. The pair are traveling together on a rainy day before events take a dramatic and alarming turn. Following this, Ophelia awakens safe in her bedroom, seemingly before she is fated to meet Kiel, and realizes she is running late for her first day at her new job.

From here things quickly develop as Ophelia, an avid gamer, meets someone she knows from her online activities in the unlikeliest of places. Several colorful characters are introduced, all sporting memorable personalities. Some of these draw perhaps a little heavily on anime tropes, and the writing can become a little clumsy as it tries to explore quite intense themes, but for the most part, the story is easy to follow and develops at a solid pace.

The narrative jumps between a small group of characters and quite soon makes its first leap to a very different scenario. An unnamed character, a young girl, is trapped in a dank, eerie cabin somewhere in the woods. Everything about this setting evokes danger, despair and fear. This location is returned to repeatedly throughout the game as the character tries to escape this place and the sense of impending danger grows more pressing.

In terms of challenge, The Shadow You is fairly restrained, but it does provide a variety of tasks. There is even an opportunity to delve into Ophelia’s online gaming with a very simple rendition of a turn-based RPG mini-game. Other obstacles include item collection puzzles (in the truest tradition of the point-and-click adventure), some hair-raising chase scenes and more.

Shadows and Colors

The Shadow You utilizes a very anime-inspired aesthetic with chibi characters used to represent the protagonists in the overworld while more detailed portraits serve in animations. This aesthetic gets an injection of variety from the horror scenario where an entirely different color palette helps to create enough contrast to make both settings feel unreal: one like a dream, the other a nightmare.

All of this is supported by a catchy soundtrack that manages to infuse a hazy joy to one narrative and a growing horror to the other.

The Shadow You is an interesting and bold attempt to tell a story split across the joys of romance and the terror of the unknown. It does so with varying degrees of success – the writing can range from charming to clumsy to outright messy – but for the most part, a palpable atmosphere, at the very least, is established.

Despite its relatively short length and wobbly dialogue, The Shadow You is easy to recommend to fans of the anime aesthetic, point-and-click adventures and unconventional narratives.

The Shadow You is available via Steam.

Check out the official trailer for The Shadow You below: