If you’re into the idea of a weird Burtonesque world filled with perspective-shifting puzzling, Tandem: A Tale of Shadows might be worth your attention. Coming from the team at Monochrome Paris, it tells the story of a young girl, a living teddy bear, and a peculiar mansion that belonged to magicians that might have a missing child in it… spooky. It also has some really inventive puzzle design that will keep players entertained from start to end, even if the performance on the Nintendo Switch could be a little iffy.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows puts players in the role of Emma, a young girl who decides that she’s going to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Thomas Kane, a child who seemingly went missing without a trace. Thomas actually belonged to a family of magicians so there *may* have been a bit of magic at work behind his disappearance, so Emma decides to investigate his family home at the Kane Mansion. She goes at it alone initially, though the appearance of a strange teddy bear named Fenton (that’s also heading towards the mansion) gives her the chance to work as part of a sleuthing partnership.
That partnership is the crux behind the gameplay, with players able to switch control between both characters as they solve all of the creative puzzles. The catch? Each character players from a different perspective, with Emma viewed from a top-down viewpoint and Fenton from the side. This makes for a gameplay loop where both characters have to work together in order to progress, whether that’s by using Fenton to open up new pathways for Emma, or with Emma using her lantern to emit shadows for Fenton to walk across. Yep, Fenton can walk on shadows, but what did you expect from a weird game like this? It was actually one of my favourite mechanics in the game, with the clever ways players can manipulate light and shadow leading to plenty of fun puzzling situations.
“It almost feels like two different games in a way; playing as Emma feels like a puzzler, whilst playing as Fenton feels more like a 2D platformer.”
Levels are cleverly designed to utilise these different mechanics in a variety of creative ways, whilst new ideas are introduced as players progress to keep them on their toes. Threats to Emma, new platform types, different sources of light… there are a few things that keep the challenge going. It almost feels like two different games in a way; playing as Emma feels like a puzzler, whilst playing as Fenton feels more like a 2D platformer. The blend of ideas works well though, with the perspective-shifting mechanic certainly feeling unique and well utilised. It does help that levels never outstay their welcome though, with each feeling smaller in design but in a way that ensures puzzles don’t feel overwhelming or unnecessarily drawn out. There’s a good balance of difficulty in the game too, with nothing ever feeling frustrating during the game’s roughly four-hour runtime.
I really enjoyed playing through Tandem: A Tale of Shadows, with its creativity certainly at the forefront throughout. However, I played on the Nintendo Switch, where the performance could be a bit inconsistent. The frame rate was never wholly smooth for example, and whilst it never went to unplayable levels, there were plenty of stutters that stood out.
“The environmental design was great and brought with it plenty of sights that fit the game’s Burtonesque-tone, whilst some levels even go a bit more… let’s say ‘out there’ with their vibrant sights.”
It could look a bit fuzzy when played on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode too, which was a shame because the cutesy yet creepy gothic setting ticked plenty of boxes for me and gave the game plenty of character. The environmental design was great and brought with it plenty of sights that fit the game’s Burtonesque-tone, whilst some levels even go a bit more… let’s say ‘out there’ with their vibrant sights – you’ll see what I mean if you play the game, but it’s a nice surprise to see the variety. I just wish that it looked and run a bit smoother on the Nintendo Switch.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows Review
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows features some brilliant puzzling and a wonderful visual style, but it’s let down by some iffy performance issues on the Nintendo Switch. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more than playable and Switch owners will certainly enjoy seeing the adventure through to its conclusion thanks to the creative variety on offer within each level, but I couldn’t help but to wish that I played the game on a different platform where the performance might have been a bit smoother.
Developer: Monochrome Paris
Publisher: Hatinh Interactive
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC