The mysterious disappearance of a well-known illusionist’s son unites the fates of Emma and Fenton in Tandem: A Tale of Shadows
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows by Monochrome Paris is a puzzle platformer, set in Victorian england. The game is a mystery centered on the disappearance of Thomas Caine, the son of a famous illusionist. Emma, a 10 year old girl takes it upon herself to try solving the mystery of the manor where the boy was last seen. While en route, Emma witnesses a stuffed bear falling from the window of a carriage, which beings to dash after the vehicle. Emma rushes to follow both after seeing this strange occurrence. She then finds herself in the shadow of the gates to a huge mansion and meets Fenton, a sentient stuffed bear tasked with guarding the young Thomas. Fenton and Emma then agree to team up to find the missing celebrity’s son.
The two begin their journey in the famous mansion, solving puzzles using a unique element of creating physical paths out of shadows cast by Emma’s lantern. Puzzle elements in Tandem: A Tale of Shadows are very intuitive, and makes it an excellent game for anyone to simply pick up and play. It requires little to no learning and has very basic controls. Playing is easy using WASD keys for movement, space bar and E to use items. Every new element of the puzzles are explored and implemented gradually, stage by stage. Slowly, the puzzles ramp up in difficulty and there is no game over, making the experience extremely forgiving.
One of Tandem’s greatest assets is simplicity and means you likely won’t be wandering around wondering what you’re supposed to be doing. This makes the experience relaxing and keeps the gameplay engaging, even if you’re not someone who’s usually big on puzzle games. While the top-down controlled Emma’s portions are relaxing and easy to play, Fenton’s jumps and movements could be better. It’s easy to fall on the spikes and die frequently because of a poorly timed jump. But again; there are no lives or games over screens, so this is very forgivable.
Towards the end of the first world, roaming enemies are introduced, and the dark underbelly of the world begins to show. Sinister jack-in-the boxes, marionettes hanging from the ceiling. The stage’s design ranges from whimsical, and fantastic to dark and foreboding. Visually interesting sets and visuals means that the game doesn’t feel boring or repetitive while exploring the mansion. There are always new background set pieces and layouts to look forward to. There are also hidden secrets to be found if you’re extra nosy, or a completionist.
Hints to these secrets are trickled out slowly and offer a deeper understanding of the story when found. These secrets can be found in cracks in the walls and various other hidden areas. The hints you find in secrets can be a tad cryptic, and short. This makes finding each one feel incredibly rewarding to those willing to go the extra mile to explore every nook and cranny of the mysterious mansion.
Puzzles and levels in Tandem are intuitive enough that anyone could figure them out. They are challenging without being frustrating, and each failure feels fair. There are no difficulty settings, so one size fits all in this regard. Hints and visual cues in the world can also help to help guide you if you get stuck. Puzzles consist of pressing buttons, pulling levers, moving physical carts to cast shadows from, and gaining access to keys. The end goal is to collect a magic crystal shard which helps Emma progress through the manor.
Voice acting in Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is serviceable, if a little awkward. The dialogue seems like maybe some of it didn’t translate as well to English, since the developers are based in France, and the game was originally made in the French language. Cutscenes are short, sweet, and to the point which keeps the gameplay flowing to make these hiccups a nitpick at best.
The game features a relaxing music box soundtrack, adding to the whimsy and mystique. The soundtrack never takes itself too seriously, adding some various sound effects for levity. Rarely, some of the sound design of objects and items you interact with can be a little jarring, sometimes not fitting the scene very well. Overall the sound effects are hit-or-miss, but overall work with the aesthetic. There are times the louder sound effects such as squeaks or when buttons are pressed stick out a bit, but it’s among the otherwise calm set of sounds.
If you’re looking for an easygoing puzzle-platformer with interesting visuals, and don’t really mind a sparse story line, then Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is the game for you. It’s a simple and fun experience that anyone can slip into with accessible controls and a forgiving learning curve. Unfettered by a complex story, this game is very friendly to both new and more experienced players. The visuals and characters are incredibly charming, and change with each new world you unlock to keep things engaging. Tandem focuses on knowing when a theme/concept has overstayed its welcome, and introduces fresh new elements to keep the player locked in to its dark and whimsical world. This makes Tandem: A Tale of Shadows a game perfect for anyone looking for a fun puzzle-solving experience.
-Easy to follow story.
-Puzzles are very intuitive.
-Awesome soundtrack, very fitting.
-Beautiful, creative levels with whimsical set pieces.
-Not a very engaging story, and the world seems like it could be richer.
-Slightly clunky controls when controlling Fenton.
Review Key provided by Homerun PR. Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is out now!