Krikket has been helming the Blaugustine Humble Monthly reviews while I’ve been away, and I thought it would be nice to dip my toe back in the blogpool by contributing to that project again after a couple of months off. Though there wasn’t a big title that got me all that excited this time around, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s reviews to see if I’m sleeping on something that is secretly my jam, I felt for my own contribution this time around I thought I should pick something smaller and more manageable.
Thus, I put my hand up to talk about Shady Part of Me, which promised to be a pretty little jaunt that was only supposed to be five hours long. I’m only an hour or so in thus far, but I think I’ve gotten a good handle on it and have played as much as I’m interested in playing. It’s just not grabbing me. To explain exactly why, let’s nitpick away at the selling points from the Steam Page:
Play with light and shadows, switching between 2D and 3D gameplay at will
In Shady Part, you guide a girl and her curiously independent shadow through a dreamscape made of toys and books and strange hospital-like surroundings . The girl can only travel in the dark and the shadow can only travel in the light, and they must manipulate objects in the world to allow each other to progress. While you can choose which character to control at any time, the nature of the mechanics means that you don’t really have any free will about how to solve any of the puzzle if you want to progress. I’m also compelled to mention it’s merely switching between 2D and ‘other type of 2D’, as one girl can walk on a plane and the other can walk and jump on a different plane, but neither have 3D movement. This isn’t Mario 64.
Your ability to rewind time will help you get you through all situations
This ability isn’t a mechanic of the game or anything, it’s just the save mechanic. When you make a mistake you can wind back to get it just right. It does the job and it does it well, but I wouldn’t say it’s a feature. In a game where there’s lots of twitch movement this could be a life saver, but in this sedate, simple little game it’s just not really worth talking about.
Explore surreal environments envisioned in a unique watercolor style
Apart from the character model that is just a bunch of snaky hair in a dress and does absolutely nothing for me, Shady Part is a very pretty game. The use of light and shadows is excellent and the whole thing is visually appealing, even when it’s trying to do drab hospital corridors, and the shadow character flitting back and forth in the background is perfect. I wouldn’t say that it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, but it is very nice.
Solve contemplative puzzles to break the dream
‘Contemplative’ seems to be code for ‘kinda boring’. I’ve only played out two of the five acts, but so far there haven’t been any puzzles that have taken more than a rudimentary examination to solve. The ability to manipulate light to allow the characters to pass through the world could be a real challenge, but so far, each interaction with an object in the world is too so controlled as to reduce each problem to trial and error, which removes any sense of accomplishment and makes all the different puzzles just blur into one vaguely unsatisfying blob.
Experience an introspective narrative journey like no other
I feel like the ‘sad girl with a strangely mature but high-pitched lilting voice with no friends retreats into a make believe world of books and toys and has to learn to discover her own self worth’ trope, while a worthwhile topic for a game, has been done in a more compelling way in games like Iris and the Giant, and Epistory. If that’s a theme that really speaks to you, then maybe check this one out, but I can’t help but think that there’s ways to spend five hours that I’ll get more out of than I will playing any more of Shady Part of Me.