Manipulating light and shadows isn’t a new concept in video games. Many have done it, but I’m not sure any have done it quite as elegantly as Tandem: A Tale of Shadows.
Out on PC and consoles later this year, Tandem: A Tale of Shadows casts you as a young girl named Emma who’s on a mission through a huge mansion to uncover the mystery of a missing boy. Thankfully, she’s not alone in her quest; her trusty teddy bear Fenton is here to help. And while Emma walks along the floor, passing through light and shadows like a regular human being, Fenton walks on the walls, his path determined by the patterns caused by shadows.
With your shoulder buttons, you can instantly change between Fenton and Emma’s perspective. You’ll need to do so multiple times as both characters help the other reach their goal. Fenton might have to reach a button, which in turn will open a door that Emma can pass through. But before Fenton can get to that button, Emma might have to push a cart to a location where it’ll cast a shadow large enough for Fenton to climb across.
Tandem is level-based, each one a bite-sized puzzle for you to wrap your head around. They start off relatively easy, gently introducing you to the game’s world and its mechanics. It quickly ramps up in difficulty, though. Emma will have extra obstacles to be aware of, such as fire traps and deadly bugs that will hunt Emma if they catch her in their sights. Needless to say it gets tough, and players will really need to employ their thinking caps – and a fair bit of trial and error – in order to proceed.
This is a gorgeous-looking game. Beautifully animated cutscenes set the scene between levels, showing Emma, Fenton and the world around them in stunning detail. Levels themselves are pleasant to look at too; the harsh shadows of the game are used to great effect and create environments filled with mystery and intrigue. It’s a shame that levels are (at least initially) very small areas; you don’t get full reign of this world, which simply begs to be explored.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games and enjoy being challenged, be sure to keep Tandem: A Tale of Shadows on your radar. As mentioned, playing around with light and shadow might not be anything new, but Tandem offers its own take on the formula. And coupled with an intriguing premise and gorgeous visuals, this has the potential to be something quite special.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is coming to PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC on 21st October. A demo is available to download now on Steam.