When a puzzle platformer is properly executed, it’s one of the best types of games. It’s especially sublime when a developer takes tried and true mechanics, and alters them or successfully merges them with other mechanics to create a hybrid. That’s exactly what Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is. With an extremely on-the-nose name, Tandem uses shadows and two types of puzzle gameplay in parallel with each other to create a type of puzzle platformer with familiar parts that make a whole new thing.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is a dark platformer where you take control of a girl named Emma who, with the help of her stuffed bear Fenton, will solve puzzles to bypass obstacles. Emma’s gameplay is from an overhead perspectice, while Fenton travels in a parallel shadow realm. This shadow realm is a deadly one, and one misstep can see Fenton impaled on spikes. But Emma can use the shadows to create walkways for Fenton, so he can remove obstacles in Emma’s path. While the gameplay with Emma, and the world she navigates looks a little Tim Burton-meets-Disney in a vaguely Victorian England, Fenton’s side scrolling jaunts resemble other puzzle platformers like Limbo or Inside.
I had a chance to get some hands-on time with Tandem, but that only gave me access to the first half dozen or so levels. Already there have been some interesting puzzles, and provided an excited glimpse into what was possible in Tandem’s full adventure, which will have 45 puzzles when it releases later this year.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadow has an expected 2021 release on PC via Steam with a later release expected for Switch, Xbox and PS4.
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