Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies will know that one of my favorite video game genres is the puzzle platformer. This is mostly because I love a good puzzle as well as a platformer. When looking for new games in the genre to check out, I am always looking for ones that try to do something unique. The idea of using shadows for a platformer has been used by other games, but today’s game In My Shadow seemed to have a unique take on the idea. In My Shadow is a unique and fun puzzle platformer that sometimes relies on a little too much trial and error.
In My Shadow tells the story of Bella. The story opens up with Bella estranged from her family living alone. The game features flashbacks to Bella’s childhood which gives glimpses into what lead to the rift in her family. By reliving old memories can Bella work through her past feelings to find a way forward?
In My Shadow is to its very core a puzzle platformer. The objective of each level is to collect a number of objects and then reach the end of the room. The gameplay basically consists of two distinct mechanics which you can switch between with the press of a button.
The first mechanic is what I consider the main puzzle mechanic. In each level there will be a number of pieces of furniture placed into the room. Depending on their position in the room they will cast shadows on the back wall(s) which comes into play for the platforming mechanic. The game’s puzzles come from you being able to change the positioning of the furniture. Some furniture can be moved in two directions and others can be moved in all four directions. Some items can also be rotated which changes the shape of their shadow. You need to position the furniture correctly in order to create the shadows to make a path for the shadow of Bella to reach the objects and the end of the room.
This brings me to the game’s other main mechanic, the platforming. After you have set up the furniture how you want it, you will switch to the shadow world where you will control Bella’s shadow. This part of the game plays similar to your typical 2D platformer as you move left and right. You are also given a single jump. The furniture you placed will create platforms which you can jump on. This is used to reach higher up collectibles and to avoid spikes and the other obstacles that stand in your way. Should you run into one of these dangers you will have to restart from the beginning of the level.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the premise of using shadows in a platforming game has been done before as I have played a few games utilizing the premise in the past. While the theme is cool, most games utilize the shadow premise as mostly a stylistic choice as it doesn’t really impact the gameplay. Before playing the game I was a little curious whether In My Shadow would be similar where it mostly just used the shadows as a gimmick.
I am glad to say that the shadow theme is more than just a gimmick as it plays a significant role in the actual gameplay. Basically you are responsible for creating the platforms that you will jump on to try and make it to the end of the level. There are some limitations on the shadows that you can create, but the game gives you quite a bit of leeway as well. I am not sure if there are multiple ways of completing each level, but there seems to be some flexibility as you have a lot of control over how you place the furniture.
While the shadow mechanic is kind of basic at first, it really starts to pick up later in the game. I really liked this mechanic and I can’t recall playing a game with a similar mechanic. The game is a really interesting twist on your typical puzzle game. It is satisfying figuring out a path through the level that will leave you unscathed. The puzzle design is pretty good as well. The game forces you to think outside of the box at times as the best solution is not always the most straightforward. I also think at least some of the puzzles have multiple solutions giving you options for how you would like to solve some of the puzzles.
As for the game’s platforming, In My Shadow doesn’t differentiate itself much from your typical 2D platformer. I occasionally had some minor issues with the controls leading to a few deaths, but they work well most of the time. The game only gives you a single jump, but you can jump pretty high where you still have quite a bit of control. The platforming doesn’t really add anything highly original, but it is enjoyable enough that fans of platformers should still have fun.
When it comes to the game’s difficulty I would say that it is a little mixed. I personally found most of the levels to be pretty easy. The first half of the game in particular was quite easy where it was pretty obvious what you were supposed to do. The second half of the game gets more difficult though. Most of the levels were still pretty easy, but there were a couple that did challenge me. As for the platforming it is usually pretty easy as long as you do a good job placing the shadows. There are some occasional times though where you have to make a pretty precise jump to avoid the dangers.
This brings me to arguably the biggest issue that I had with In My Shadow. The game ends up relying on quite a bit of trial and error at times. Sometimes this comes from working through the level as you figure out how to place the furniture. Most of it comes from not knowing exactly how to place the furniture though. You might have a general idea of where the shadows should be placed, but you might be slightly off which will cause some problems. For example you might make a shadow too tall where Bella can’t quite jump on it, or you might not create a big enough gap between a shadow and a danger preventing you from avoiding it. You then have to go back to adjusting the furniture and slightly tweak the positioning and try again. You usually only have to do some slight tweaking in order to finish the level, but other levels require a lot of tweaking in order to get the positioning just right. This becomes a little frustrating after a while as you can be only slightly off for quite a while until you get the positioning right.
Other than the reliance on trial and error, the other issue I had with In My Shadow was the length. The game has around 50 levels. The levels themselves are quite short as the platforming will only take 20-30 seconds once you figure out the right positioning for the shadows. The length comes from how long it takes to figure out the positioning of the shadows. As I mentioned earlier I figured out most of the levels pretty quickly. I would guess most levels took a couple minutes at most. There were a couple levels though that took quite a bit longer though. I ended up finishing the game in around 3-4 hours. This isn’t terrible. The biggest problem with the length is that it feels like the game ends kind of abruptly. The game introduces some unique new mechanics at the end of the game, and could have utilized them more. I honestly think the game could have created more levels without even adding any new mechanics. I enjoyed my time with the game, but I just think it could have been a little longer.
I ultimately thought In My Shadow was a pretty good puzzle platformer that while not perfect was quite enjoyable to play. The shadow mechanic in particular was pretty creative. It is fun trying to figure out how to place the pieces of furniture in the room to cast the shadows on the wall to give yourself platforms to reach the end of the level. The game gives you quite a bit of leeway in this area as there likely are multiple ways of solving some of the levels. The platforming is pretty typical of the genre, but it is fun enough. The game does rely on a decent amount of trial and error though as the shadows might be slightly off forcing you to slightly move the furniture before attempting the level again. In My Shadow is also kind of short as I was able to beat it within 3-4 hours.
My recommendation comes down to your thoughts on the shadow premise and puzzle platformers in general. If you don’t like puzzle platformers or the shadow theme, In My Shadow probably won’t be for you. Those that are intrigued by the game’s premise though, should enjoy the game and consider picking up In My Shadow.
Buy In My Shadow online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Playbae and Alcon Interactive Group for the review copy of In My Shadow used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.