REVIEW : Tandem: A Tale of Shadows (PC)
With her skinny little legs and long dresses dressed in a pair of black striped stockings, hidden beneath a large blue dress decorated with a large orange and black bow, Emma, the little girl from London with a cerulean white complexion and an eye for investigation and the protagonist of the game, would be perfect as a heroine in a Tim Burton film. She may appear little, but she is not one to back down when confronted with danger. His most recent investigation is on the disappearance of the magician Thomas Kane, who vanished under unexplained circumstances. He witnesses a teddy bear fall from a carriage as he walks through the streets of a dreary Victorian London at night, and instead of remaining motionless as it should, it stands up and chases its master. Emma recognizes it because she’s seen it before in a photo: it’s Kane’s. He then pursues him, eventually arriving in an ancient villa filled with traps and monsters that appear to have emerged from a haunted mansion. To conquer them, she’ll need to work with Fenton, the teddy bear, who will build an unbreakable bond with her during the voyage. This is approximately the plot of this puzzle game with platform components, made by Monochrome Paris, a 3D graphics studio passionate about video games.
Despite the violent start, Tandem: A Tale of Shadows has very calm and deliberate rhythms. The game’s unique feature is not that two characters are led but rather the shift of perspective that occurs while switching from one to the other. Emma is framed from above, acting in what we can call reality. On the other hand, Fenton is framed sideways and walks through a world of lights and shadows. The latter takes on a solid state and can transform into a cage, a staircase, or a platform that allows the bear to reach locations that would otherwise be inaccessible.
The core concept of the game is to control two characters so that Emma uses and manipulates reality’s light sources to allow Fenton to advance and reach levers, buttons, and anything else that will clear the path for the girl. Throughout the game, they assist each other, using their various skills and finding the peculiarities of the five areas they must traverse, beginning in the villa’s garden and progressing via the basement, interior, and finally to the case’s conclusion.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows has a total of forty levels, which will keep you occupied for several hours. The amount of time spent playing varies depending on how well you solve the numerous puzzles and how eager you are to find the secrets hidden throughout the levels; the latter is simple at first but becomes increasingly harder as you progress. Each level has the same goal: to get Fenton to a fragment, which he will then toss at Emma to form the key that will unlock the next sector. The game has a linear structure since you must answer the puzzles in the sequence that the developers specify, following a set path.
Since the focus isn’t on exploring, it’s not horrible. Beyond the beauty of the artwork that serves as the action’s backdrop, we’re dealing with a pure puzzle game.
Both characters have rudimentary controls: Emma can walk, run, and grab objects, moving them as needed. Some problems, for example, need you to move chests while others want you to activate valves.
In addition, the girl will frequently be holding a lamp, with which she will need to learn how to throw shadows to favour Fenton accurately. On the other side, the teddy bear can only jump and interact with a few buttons or levers, often jumping on them.
As the journey progresses, things will become more complicated, with new puzzles and challenges being introduced. In addition, adversaries such as huge spiders and shadow tentacles tied to puzzles will appear after the first rather peaceful stages. It would help if you armed yourself with creativity to understand how to conquer them without being detected. Addressing them directly is tantamount to committing death, so you must empower yourself with intellect to comprehend how to overcome them without being caught.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows, despite being a puzzle game, has some breathtaking moments, notably when conquering the final levels of each section, which each have their unique features. For example, to reach the end of the garden’s last challenge, you’ll need to utilize a very long spring-loaded puppet, while at the end of the underground, you’ll have to deal with huge tentacles. From the beginning to the end of the journey, the puzzles are generally of good quality. They’ve been designed with a certain level of capability and awareness, with carts to push, opponents to block, chasms to cross, and so on.
Some are challenging but not impossible, so you may progress quickly and avoid being stuck over long periods. However, the tale progresses slowly in the first two settings from a narrative standpoint. Then, as the game progresses, it becomes increasingly vital to the whole experience, aided by excellent 3D graphics (for the production level of the game ).
The latter merits a round of applause because, thanks to its artistic refinement, well-developed characters, and excellent scenographic taste, it stands out and makes it easy to immerse yourself in this gothic fairy tale with unexpected consequences.