Where’s Samantha? by Respect Studios
Where’s Samantha? plays like your standard puzzle platformer, but dig deeper and the game does its best to incorporate grounded narrative themes to make the journey more of an interesting one.
Laser traps, portals, switches, moving platforms make up most of what I encountered. There is a nice variation, but it still comes across as pretty normal.
Untangling the Puzzle Knots
These are coupled with a mechanic that allows the quilted protagonist to split apart or join into other clones of itself. You can join into other clones, making yourself heavier to push blocks or press buttons, or you can split apart into a smaller form to jump higher. Where’s Samantha? also allowed you to switch to different clones and position them to open doors by standing on two buttons at once. It’s a simple mechanic but works well enough to be engaging throughout.
The only issue I had overall with the gameplay is that nothing particularly stood out to me to make this puzzle platformer feel different from others I’ve played. I feel like a large part of that is due to the levels feeling familiar. Levels themselves, while short, feel like slight variations of each other – the same handful of traps and platforms found throughout. The lack of a more exciting color palette and varied backgrounds don’t help to ease the repetition.
But there is a reason for the lack of color. The game deals with sad narrative themes, so contextually and visually it makes sense, but I still felt like those themes could have been delivered through visuals in a more interesting way.
The game opts for a quilted look that reminds me a lot of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. I really do like the way the game looks overall; I just wish it had more interesting backgrounds or objects to look at. Most backgrounds are white, and all the terrain is beige. It’s such a wasted opportunity to make the quilted world feel even more alive or exciting. Again, this could be because it’s trying to mirror its narrative themes, but I still wish it offered more in this regard.
The narrative does take a bit to get going, but when it does it deals with the aforementioned themes. Loss, depression, and trauma make up most of it. I wish these themes were expanded upon in the game’s cut-scenes. It all ends up feeling too surface level. The game ends in an abrupt fashion, which also hurts the narrative, but even though it ends in an underwhelming way, I do applaud the game for even featuring these themes at all.
A Little Too Off-the-Rack
Other than that, Where’s Samantha is perfectly fine. The controls feel good, and levels and traps get increasingly hard without feeling too overwhelming. It all just feels too familiar and safe. I was hoping for more out of this game. I would have enjoyed it more if its narrative or its gameplay was expanded upon a bit more.
Where’s Samantha ends up being a game that feels a bit undercooked. It has the blueprint of a game that could really resonate on a narrative level but doesn’t. It has a simple and easy-to-grasp core gameplay mechanic but doesn’t do enough interesting things with it inside its level design. It ultimately ends up being a solid game if you’re looking for a small, standard fare puzzle platformer to spend a couple hours with.
Where’s Samantha is available via the Nintendo Online Store and Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Where’s Samantha below: