The first thing that comes to mind when you look at Emma, the pale-skinned London girl with a penchant for investigation, as well as the game's protagonist, is that she would be perfect as a heroine in a film. Tim Burton, with her thin long legs dressed in a pair of black striped stockings, hidden under a large blue dress decorated with a large orange and black bow.
She looks small, but she is not one to hold back in the face of dangers. His latest investigation concerns the magician Thomas Kane, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As he wanders through the streets of a gloomy Victorian London at night, he sees a teddy bear fall from a carriage, which instead of remaining motionless as it should, stands up and begins to chase its master.
Emma recognizes it because she has already seen it in a photo: it belongs to Kane. He then decides to chase him, reaching an ancient villa full of traps and monsters that seem to come out of a haunted house. To be able to overcome them she will have to collaborate with Fenton, the teddy bear, who will form an indissoluble couple with her for the entire adventure. This roughly is the story behind this puzzle game with platform elements created by a studio specializing in 3D graphics, Monochrome Paris, but with a passion for video games.
Let's find out how it went in review of Tandem: A Tale of Shadows.
Black and white puzzle
Despite the frenzied introduction, you immediately notice that Tandem: A Tale of Shadows has very slow and thoughtful rhythms. The peculiarity of the game is not so much that you drive two characters, but the change of perspective which happens by passing from one to the other. Emma is framed from above and acts in what we can define our reality, while Fenton is framed sideways and moves in a world made of lights and shadows, where the latter take on a solid state and can become a cage, like a ramp or a platform that helps the bear to reach places otherwise inaccessible.
The fundamental idea of the gameplay is precisely to manage two characters so that Emma exploits and manipulates the light sources of reality to allow Fenton to advance and reach levers, buttons and whatever else serves to clear the way to the girl. The two help each other for the entire game, using their respective skills and discovering the peculiarities of the five settings they have to cross, starting from the garden of the villa, passing through the basement, the interior and gradually until the solution of the case.
In total, Tandem: A Tale of Shadows consists of forty different levels, which keep you busy for more than a few hours. The game time varies depending on the skill demonstrated in solving the various puzzle and the desire to search for the secrets scattered around the levels, the latter initially quite simple, but gradually more and more difficult. The objective of each level is always the same: to make Fenton reach a fragment which he will then throw at Emma to form the key with which to open the next area. The game structure is linear, in the sense that you have to solve the puzzles in the order dictated by the developers, thus following a predetermined path. Not bad, since the focus is definitely not on exploration. In this sense we are faced with a pure puzzle game, beyond the richness of the imaginary that is the background to the action.
The controls of the two characters are very simple: Emma can walk, run and grab objects, moving them as needed. For example, some puzzles require you to move chests, while others require you to activate valves.
In addition, the girl will often have one in her hand lamp, with which he will have to learn to cast the shadows in the correct way, to favor Fenton. The teddy bear, on the other hand, can only jump and interact with a few buttons or levers, in many cases jumping on them.
As the adventure progresses, things will get quite complicated, with the addition of elements that will introduce new types of puzzles and new difficulties. Also, after the first relatively quiet levels, gods will also arrive enemies, like giant spiders and shadow tentacles, also linked to puzzles. Facing them directly is equivalent to committing suicide, so you need to arm yourself with ingenuity to understand how to overcome them without getting caught.
Despite being a puzzle game, Tandem: A Tale of Shadows also offers moments spectacular, especially when dealing with the last levels of each area, which have unique characteristics. For example, in the last puzzle of the garden you will have to use a very long spring-loaded puppet to get to the end, while at the end of the underground you will have to contend with giant tentacles. In general i puzzle they are of a good level from the beginning to the end of the adventure and have been built with a certain ability and with a great awareness, including carts to push, enemies to block, chasms to overcome and so on. Some are quite difficult, but never really insurmountable, so much so that you advance with relative agility, never getting stuck for too long. From the narrative point of life, however, the story develops very slowly for the first two settings, and then grows in pace in the following ones, becoming more central to the whole experience, also supported by good 3D graphics (for the production level of the game ).
The latter deserves a little applause, because between stylistic refinement, well-characterized characters and a great scenographic taste, it really makes its figure and helps a lot to immerse yourself in this gothic fairy tale with unpredictable implications.
The only true problem by Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is that once sold out it offers very little reason to return to play it. It is true that each of the forty levels is well structured and layered, so much so as to propose multiple challenges to the player, but once they are concluded there is really no reason to replay them, unless you go in search of the aforementioned secrets. Another problem is that, although it is well made and packaged, it lacks that pinch of enthusiasm that never hurts in a title like this, something truly memorable that the player carries with him for the rest of his life. The essence is that we are faced with a solid and well-made title, which nevertheless never shows essential creative flashes.
CommentTested version PC Windows Digital Delivery Steam, GoG, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, Nintendo eShop Price 24,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is undoubtedly a good game, which will appeal to lovers of puzzle games and those of gothic fairy tales. What he lacks is that extra something that can make him ascend to the Olympus of the medium, transfiguring him from his state of valid experience to that of essential experience, to be done at all costs. That said, puzzle game lovers shouldn't think twice about buying it, because it's really worth it. They will find bread for their teeth.
- Ingenious puzzles
- The two perspectives are well exploited
- The right is challenging
- After finishing it, it doesn't give much reason to go back to it
- It lacks particular flashes