Tandem: A Tale of Shadows has an odd and unclear premise. You play as a 10-year old girl named Emma, and you’re determined to locate an illusionist’s missing child named Thomas Kane. As you start your ambitious venture, you happen to come across a gravity-defying sentient teddy bear named Fenton, and you both head into the Kane mansion, aiming to find out the mystery behind Thomas’ disappearance. I call it odd and unclear as there was no indication as to why Emma and Fenton would want to solve this mystery; the game just throws you in there.
While the basis is a bit weird, it’s not the focal point of the gameplay. Tandem is a puzzle platformer that takes a unique approach by craftily mixing top-down and side-scroller perspectives. As Emma, you’re in the top-down perspective, with the objective of roaming the rooms and guiding Fenton to what appears to be a magic crystal in each level. As Fenton, you then go through the platforms in the darkness to obtain the magic crystals. Truth be told, I have no idea what these crystals are for or how the mansion’s layout makes any sense.
Regardless, the gameplay mechanics are quite innovative. You will constantly be switching back and forth between the two to help each other in each area with the various obstacles and puzzles. I do like how seamless the interactions are with each other.
For Emma, she maneuvers both herself and the position of certain objects and light to create a shadow pathway for Fenton to move forward. Likewise, Fenton jumps around and removes hazards or unlocks gates for Emma to move forward. This harmonious cooperation is a true testament to the title of the game.
The atmosphere Tandem brings is a magical and enchanting one. The graphics have exceptional 3D aesthetics heavily influenced by the Victorian era and the steampunk subgenre.
The dynamic lighting effects and shift in perspective add tension to the setting as you roam through ominous and eerie rooms. The music does a decent job in accompanying the ambiance; however, it does sound somewhat generic.
Tandem: A Tale of shadows looks to be like a gorgeous and enjoyable puzzle-platformer game. With some unique mechanics, the game does well to stand out in the genre. I only hope there’s a good amount of level variety and story immersion for the title’s full release, as the game currently lacks any depth in those aspects.
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