The most beautiful harmony is born from what is opposed, and everything is generated through conflict
Douze Dixièmes has created a rare pearl. Shady Part of Me is one of those projects that stands out from the crowd for its originality and themes.
Published by Focus Entertainment, on 10 december 2020, for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, Shady Part Of Me is a puzzle platform with a charismatic peculiarity: an elegant mix of 3D and 2D gameplay.
The game looks like an hand-painted watercolor, with the palette heavily restricted to dark earth tones.
So, are you ready to deal with an eccentric protagonist’s childhood traumas?
The first thing you should do is play this game, but now that you’re here, read our review about this little masterpiece!
I’M NOT INSANE; YOU ARE!
You are a young girl who is afraid of the light.
The plot unfolds in four acts, as a theatrical pièce.
At the beginning, the young girl wanders into what appears to be an orphanage or dormitory, and she’s very, very careful not to enter any of the light areas.
When the first act begins, the girl encounters a mysterious presence.
This one is a speechless shadow and they appear to know very little about each other.
Around the middle of the first act, the shadow begins to speak, advising the young girl to look for the “exit.”
From here, the “Escape” chapter begins, in which they become acquainted with each other as they collaborate.
Meanwhile the shadow insistently asks if they are friends, acknowledging that the girl is alone and she has no friends.
This allows them to sketch out their personality.
At the end of the first act, the little girl falls and is trapped in a padded room (in fact, the scene is called “Trapped”), and the roles are reversed.
So, the girl becomes quiet, while the shadow pursues her and is concerned about his silence.
Off-screen, a warm and reassuring male voice begins to converse with the child.
The shadow begins to doubt the child’s abilities at this point, causing her to become enraged.
The second act begins with the “Exploration” chapter, in which the light takes over, putting the little girl in danger, until the shadow belittles the little girl’s fears and tries to reassure her at the same time.
The shadow shows signs of weakness and begins to express its fears about heat sources in the “Introspection” chapter.
The male voiceover begins to give the child advice that she does not want to hear, convinced that he wants her to leave her safe zone.
The shadow then becomes more rational and tries to persuade the girl to follow the man’s advice.
There is a complete shift in perspective at the start of the third act, in the chapter “Rebirth.”
The two “friends” argue because the shadow favors those who suggest the girl go out, abandon her safe zone.
The girl withdraws into herself until she decides to abandon the shadow, leaving her alone to face the dangers.
When they reconcile, the shadow asks the girl if she has met her needs (friends, castles, books), to which she replies that they have abandoned her.
Their collaboration resumes here, becoming closer and more articulated.
The concept of dualism is central to the plot of this magnificent title: a dualism that finds its natural resolution in the collaboration and balance that materializes in the reconstruction of what was previously disintegrated.
As a result, the narrative is mature and cryptic, full of hidden meanings and elements that are never random but lead to an understanding of the story’s structure and true essence as it progresses.
A LIGHT AND SHADOW PLAY AS SELF-COLLABORATION METAPHOR
“There once was a girl who was trapped in dark
With naught but her shadow for company.
A journey to escape she did embark
and her shadow followed distrustfully.”
It would be incorrect to say that the gameplay in Shady Part of Me is merely an accompaniment to the narration and the issues addressed.
The playful component is very intuitive, but it is also valued for its simplicity and clarity.
The setting will direct our actions in Shady Part of Me. We’ll have to solve over a hundred small-scale puzzles, each with the goal of safely transporting both characters from point A to point B. Then do it all over again when the level’s next stage becomes available.
The game also allows you to rewind time in order to solve all of your problems. If one of the protagonists dies by accident, you can solve your problems by travelling back in time.
We had the impression that it would be the shadow who would have to face real and actual dangers, while the child would simply have to overcome her childhood fears and traumas.
The game sessions present a variety of solutions, thanks to the developers’ strategy of breaking down and recomposing the gameplay in 2D and 3D.
In fact, the shadow will be linked to a linear path with horizontal scrolling, whereas the child will be able to move more freely in space and in three dimensions. Furthermore, both protagonists can run, climb obstacles, and interact with environmental puzzles.
Two small details that stood out to us were the development team’s incredible attention to level design and the fact that every speech and meaningful word spoken by the protagonists will be written down as a sort of reminder for the player.
Onomatopoeic sounds are also that extra something that adds to the atmosphere and experience’s complexity.
Each act also includes a large amount of origami that the player must collect by switching between protagonists. Origami are numerous and well hidden, so you’ll need a lot of patience to find them all.
I AM YOU AND YOU ARE ME
Every memorable work deserves an OST worthy of its title, a soundtrack that elevates it to a level unrivaled.
Nicolas Gueguen‘s music delightfully complements the gaming experience, creating a never-ending, romantic, and dark atmosphere.
The little tune sung at the start of the narrative and later repeated with different arrangements makes the sound sector unforgettable.
The real wonder, on the other hand, is the discovery of the voice that gave life to the protagonists.
Hannah Murray is an international actress who has appeared in major projects such as Game of Thrones and Skins.
Her incredible voice fits perfectly both in the interpretation of the child and in the shadow. One incredible voice for two extremely complex characters.
Her vocal characterization clearly conveys this distinction: the little girl appears fearful and shy based on the tone of her voice, whereas the shadow speaks with great confidence and knowledge of the facts, as if she had already had similar experiences on her own skin.
EMBRACE YOUR INNER CHILD AND LET HER GO
“Hand in hand, we break free from this nether. Step by step, we will rise together.”
Now, let’s delve a little deeper into what lies beneath the game’s surface plot.
We saw two characters, with sporadic appearances of an off-screen male voice. The main characters, the girl and her shadow, demonstrate this particular collaboration to get from point A to point B in order to escape. But what are they running away from?
Firstly, let’s examine the peculiarities of each character:
The girl is afraid of the light, which translates into a fear of being judged by people, an insecurity about showing herself to the world, and a lack of trust in others.
In fact, at the start of the game, when the little girl is still alone and the exploration of her begins, the busts of characters who observe her as she passes have dark and severe expressions.
She’s a perpetual outcast, convinced that the rest of the world mocks her and wishes her harm. She must deal with inconsistencies, staying inside, indoors, provides her with security.
Despite her young age, the game’s little heroine appears to carry the world on her shoulders, suffering from a variety of anxieties.
At some point, she displays such confidence that she decides to do things without the assistance of her shadow, for which she feels responsible, among other things.
The shadow, on the other hand, which is none other than the child’s adult part, tries to save herself while also saving her infantile part, forcing her to overcome her fears.
Unlike her childhood counterpart, she is confronted with real dangers, symbolized by brambles bristling with large thorns.
Her fears are diametrically opposed to those of the little girl. She can’t stand being in the dark and tries everything she can to get outside, because the inside makes her feel deprived of freedom.
When the male voice appears in the “Trapped” chapter, we realize he’s portraying a psychologist or psychiatrist, so the adult part accepts the therapy, and her path to freedom from fears begins here.
TAKE ON AND EXTINGUISH YOUR INNER DEMON
Shady Part of Me is a must have from every angle. A polished video game that shows up as one of the most interesting and captivating games in the independent videogame scene.
Could we possibly criticize it? If so, just what?
The only complaint we could have about the game is that it focuses too much on puzzles (with consequent repetition of the puzzle sessions). But are we certain that this is a valid and necessary criticism, though? Especially if we consider that the puzzle sessions themselves are the true gaming essence of Douze Dixièmes work.
We don’t know how long we will hear about Shady Part of Me, but we recommend you to play it and we highly recommend it for all those thousand different aspects that make it up.
Additionally, we advise using headphones to properly appreciate the game’s audio design, including the music, sound effects, and ambiance.
What are you waiting for then? Turn on your console or your PC and get ready to live an experience that will break your heart and destabilize your mind!