Tandem: A Tale Of Shadows

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Hatinh Interactive
Developer: Monochrome
Release Date: Oct. 21, 2021


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Tandem: A Tale of Shadows'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 2, 2021 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Tandem: A Tale Of Shadows is a dreamlike puzzle platformer with action and adventure elements that offers a unique dual gameplay experience.

In our previous preview of Tandem: A Tale of Shadows, we stated that the game had potential. The shifting of characters and their required interaction with one another proved to be an intriguing hook that doesn't get old despite how many games have already employed this in a co-op environment. We've played an updated preview build of the game, and our initial impression remain unchanged.

At the end of the 19th century, Thomas Kane, the only son in a family of famous illusionists, went missing. The detectives at the famous Scotland Yard have been frantically working on the case, but no real progress has been made. Your character, Emma, has taken a keen interest in the case and has taken it upon herself to solve the mystery. Shortly after leaving her house, she happens upon a speeding horse carriage from which a teddy bear named Fenton has fallen — and it's somehow become sentient. The newfound duo finds itself at the Kane estate, where a shadowy presence has taken over.

As alluded to earlier, Tandem is a co-op title played by one player where you'll switch control between the characters. The overall goal is to explore the stage and obtain each crystal shard, which is then used to assemble the key necessary to move on to the next major game world. While there is no combat, there are still dangerous creatures and hazards that can kill you, but death isn't that debilitating since you have infinite lives and will respawn where you left off or have the puzzles reset slightly before trying again.

Both characters use switches and other objects to solve puzzles, but the differences between the playable characters are pretty vast. When you play as Emma, you do so from a top-down perspective. There's no jumping involved, but you can push objects out of the way — dining carts and boxes and the like. Early on, you also obtain a lamp that is powerful enough to cast light on every corner of a room and create long shadows. You can also hit switches and turn valves on the floor and low areas. Switch control to Fenton, and the game changes to a shadow realm presented from a side-scrolling perspective. Aside from gaining the ability to jump, you treat any form of shadow as a solid object, so you can also reach switches on higher places to open gates and turn off dangerous obstacles. Fenton is also the only one that can obtain the shard necessary to create the world key, so it's mandatory to switch characters.

Just like in the previous build, the setup allows for the type of puzzle where you need to be cognizant of where both characters are at any point. Switches are easy enough to figure out, and creating shadows that can be transformed into platforms and slopes becomes a little tricky if your movement as Emma is restricted due to various objects being in the way. Making sure that you leave Fenton in the light is essential, since the game doesn't permit you to switch over if it envelops him in darkness, while leaving Emma in the spot with a gate or trap is a bad idea if you don't know whether Fenton's switches are permanent, run on a timer, or deactivate if he isn't standing on them.

The new preview build provides some additional levels with newer puzzles that show off more than basic shadow creation and switch manipulation. One of the early puzzles has you moving objects to create pathways so Emma can hit a few switches while she stays away from the spiders lurking in the shadows. Another has you manipulating some tubes of goop to create new platforms and create barriers if you don't quickly leap to the newly created spaces. They're more action-oriented in that you have to rely on speed and precision to reach the next safe zone. This is best exemplified in the preview build's final level, which sees you doing all of this while also swapping back and forth between characters to remove shadow barriers while the goop is still moving. Those stages are super fun, and if they're presented this early on, then we anticipate that the later stages will show off even more creativity.

Our opinion on Tandem: A Tale of Shadows remains the same after sampling the second preview build. The concept is quite good, and the clever use of shadows and dimension switching shows off some great puzzles. The newer levels also show that the game isn't going to be slow-paced, as some of the more action-packed levels play well in this space. There's still no definitive release date for the game at the moment, but if the penciled-in "2021" date still holds, we can't wait to see more of what Tandem has to offer.

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