In My Shadow is a curious game. A mix of side-scroller platforming along with shadow manipulation puzzles could potentially make for an interesting game, assuming of course that the puzzle design and platforming are strong enough to carry the whole game through to its end. Indian developer Playbae has picked a particularly ambitious set of genres for its first game. Considering how the two genres blended together in In My Shadow—platforming and puzzle-solving—are almost entirely focused on gameplay first and foremost, the game doesn’t have the luxury of a compelling narrative to carry it through.
In My Shadows Gameplay
In My Shadow is an incredibly rough game. Right from the design of its menu, its confusion about whether a controller can be used to even navigate the menus, and even the quality of the cutscenes that try to tell an emotional story, In My Shadow isn’t a game with a lot of polish. But that’s alright, indie game development budgets aren’t exactly massive, after all. Where In My Shadow falters the most, however, is the structure of the game.
In My Shadow, for some reason, uses the structure of a mobile puzzler. You’ll find “rooms” in a doll house that essentially act as level selection, and within these rooms are a number of puzzles. Completing each puzzle involves using shadows and platforming to make it from one end of the level to another, sometimes grabbing collectibles along the way. This means that, often, a single puzzle will take, at best, 5 minutes as you keep making minor adjustments to objects casting shadows so that you can land a jump over some spikes. At worse, the puzzles never get complicated enough to really take advantage of the gameplay’s premise.
The structural problem with this is that, since levels go by rather quickly, going through the menu to pick another level, sometimes with a roughly-animated cutscene to spice things up gets rather tedious. A lot of the problems come down to poor pacing as well, which can also quite easily be attributed to the mobile puzzle game structure. In My Shadow spends too long dwelling on new mechanics it introduces, but it never really succeed at taking advantage of these new mechanics to make puzzles harder. You’ll be spending too much time with incredibly easy puzzles for long stretches before something new comes along.
In My Shadow’s Story
The story of In My Shadow largely revolves around Bella, who is revisiting her memories to try and reconcile with some of the decisions she made along the way. Unfortunately, the storytelling lacks any real subtleties, and the rough quality of the models and animation take a lot away from what could potentially be emotional moments. At the best of times the cutscenes and storytelling come off like the game was made by animation students trying to mimic Pixar’s general style. Unfortunately, it never really comes together.
In My Shadow isn’t a particularly demanding game; it’s incredibly easy to max out the graphics, and a quick look at the hardware requirements show that the game would run just fine on just about any half-decent computer from the last decade.
On the other hand, the game does have some minor problems with controllers. Having tried it out using both a DualSense as well as an Xbox One controller, In My Shadow was quite finicky in letting me navigate through its menus without having to go back to my mouse and keyboard. Gameplay itself, thankfully, was never impacted.
In My Shadow starts off with some cool ideas. Manipulating shadows to form platforms for 2D platforming action is a fun idea with loads of potential. Unfortunately, the game never truly manages to live up to that potential. Its levels are too short, and the puzzles are never difficult enough to ever pose a real challenge, leading to a big problem when it comes to its pacing. Unfortunately, In My Shadow is too rough to be a real recommendation.