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Review: Shady Part of Me – Loneliness, resistance, acceptance

Review: Shady Part of Me - Shady Part of Me is combination of delicate and highly sensitive stories, combining a simple but always effective game system.

Presented and published instantly during The Game Awards , Shady Part of Me has shown since the trailer its delicate tones and that tiptoe way of proposing itself typical of small productions, which usually turn out to be precious works able to tell the story. human interiority more than the greats of industry ever managed to do. Douze Dixièmes is a small French team of just seven people at their first job , and it is particular the fact that most of the titles of the French genre are so strongly recognizable, as if there was a precise artistic current to which by now we should probably give a very specific name that identifies certain clear features.

Shady Part of Me , as you can easily guess from the name it bears, does nothing to hide its desire for introspection on that dark passenger with whom we all travel in our lives: it is there, always present, always lurking, always ready to overshadow our colors, claiming his presence with the gait of a satrap who destroys everything. But what exactly is Shady Part of Me and why in such a crowded genre does it manage to emerge in its own way despite not departing decisively from already seen and consolidated patterns?

The story

There is a little girl on the swing, in the prologue of Shady Part of Me . She sways blissfully until she has to stop, stand up, understand that there is no longer anyone to push her. It is a shadow that moves between the brambles, between large insidious platforms, while it remains in the balance between memory and a new awareness that it cannot accept. A double bass note timidly peeps out to intersperse the soft sung moans that know of faded memories, of childhood fading away, of uncertain present. And there, on grainy and watered backgrounds that communicate fixity and inner closures, she sways gracefully like a leaf blown by gusts of wind. Where is it heading? What do you want to tell about yourself?

A few moments pass for the shadow to give way to a figure of a girl with disheveled hair, disheveled and with her face hidden, as if cloaked in shame for something she can’t even explain. Among immense libraries that outline the backgrounds, between books in which to take refuge to escape reality, that little girl lives the world of solitude, escaping from what she does not feel belongs to her. A timid narrator, from time to time, underlines her moods, almost questions her; sometimes it underlines what happened to her, other times it underlines some passages of her pre-adolescent life. And it is a life of extreme solitude, of isolation, of denial of any form of sociality.

Shady Part of Me does not tell in a canonical way, and although very little is often deduced from the environments, there are key phrases that appear on walls and objects as the protagonist passes by. These are phrases that strike, that also hurt, chisel blows on a sculpture that is not completely finished. Its form is understood quite clearly, but Shady Part of Me could certainly have gone into greater depth and suggested less , especially since it is the narrative that comes out with less strength, even with a greater weakness than the protagonist. Yet Shady Part of Me it works, it intrigues, it pushes us to understand more of that uncertain destiny, of that life in formation that is dangerously channeling itself towards a dead end from which it is difficult to get out.

In the great contrast between exteriority and interiority, between vital lights and confused shadows, the title of Douze Dixièmes finds a very good keystone in its game system, which matches the narrative symbolisms that the French developers want to bring to the fore. It is not a trivial matter, when history and gameplay dance in a firm embrace that knows no cleavage or uncertainties in its steps, and this makes Shady Part of Me a project with an important artistic focus, with a crystalline game direction, which does not it bends to needs that go beyond its playful microcosm.

Gameplay

Essentially, Shady Part of Me is a puzzle game with platform elements. Its peculiarity is precisely represented by the dualism between the protagonist and her shadow, which must move on opposing planes but somehow always united by the absence of light. The little girl is afraid of it, she can never meet her, she can never end up in the middle of it: whether it is the sun’s rays, the discreet beam of a lamp or the thicker and more intrusive one of a spotlight, we must always find a way to evade the light and take advantage of his absence to advance. Otherwise, the child’s shadow can move without this limitation, since in fact it is her interiority that drives her to change, to open up; and with the projection of the objects that take on new forms, he can take advantage of steps, moving platforms, screens for dangers and all a series of very good ideas that are the basis of the proposed puzzles.

Shady Part of Me lets you experiment with postpositions of elements of the scenario, objects that must be moved away from or brought closer to sources of light to change the shape and size of the shadows, piston systems, columns, mobile platforms and creative perspective games that create paths, loopholes , bridges and new illusions. The result is a compartmentalized game management that forces you to get both characters from one point to another, but through paths that are always extremely diversified. You will also have to cooperate very carefully, often with actions that must be well coordinated before bringing them to completion, stimulating lateral thinking and the ability to know how to anticipate certain outcomes.

In the first phase the puzzles will turn out to be quite affordable, but as you advance, their complexity will become quite evident, without however reaching exaggerated peaks or moments of real frustration. Considering that the game can be completed in just three hours (but it really depends on how long it will take you to find the different solutions to the proposed puzzles), it seems to us that Shady Part of Me has reached a good compromise between duration and condensation of the experience of game. It is also true that the constant having to stop inevitably breaks the flow of experience, which may not meet the favor of those who prefer less headaches and a little more movement.

Shady Part of Me

Not bad, because Shady Part of Me , beyond a bit of narrative avarice that could have opened more insights on the controlled character, still succeeds in its task, giving us back a story that shows clear phases of growth, understanding, maturation and acceptance. Graphically peculiar and able to mix 2D with 3D with two distinct phases that alternate during the adventure, Shady Part of Me manages to place itself with good decorum in the genre to which it belongs. The main musical theme, melancholy and suave, is able to resonate in the head even after the credits, while the short notes masterfully punctuate the highlights of the adventure. He can’t catch giants like Limbo and  Inside, but proposes a story capable of dragging the player into the life of the little protagonist, demonstrating that failure is not the end but a new beginning, that fears can be defeated and that we are always and in any case people in constant change, always ready to face the bitterest vicissitudes of life with new awareness.

Shady Part of Me

Shady Part of Me – Conclusion

Shady Part of Me is yet another demonstration that small teams from across the Alps know how to tell delicate and highly sensitive stories, combining a simple but always effective game system. Short and intense, but perhaps too shy in exposing itself, Douze Dixièmes’ first work is recommended for those looking for something really different and more niche, in an indie dimension that does exactly what it needs to without disappointing or overdoing it.

Positives of Shady Part of Me

  • A story of loneliness and growth
  • Told in a different way than usual
  • Great puzzles based on light and shadow, with great variations on the theme

Negatives of Shady Part of Me

  • Narratively he could have dared more

 

 Shady Part of Me – Bio

Release date December 10, 2020
Genre platforms, puzzle-games
Developers Douze Dixiemes
Platforms  Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

 

 

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