REVIEW: ‘In My Shadow’ Is A Unique But Shallow Puzzle (PS4)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In My Shadow - But Why Tho

In My Shadow is a puzzle platformer developed by Playbae. Originally released on PC, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and iOS in 2021, In My Shadow tells the story of Bella, a young woman trying to make peace with her past. The story revolves around exploring Bella’s past and takes place in four different rooms of her home. The premise of using puzzles to unlock memories and moments of a story is not inherently new, but the way In My Shadow handles it is pretty interesting. Since the gameplay takes place within Bella’s home, all of the items involved in the puzzles help draw attention to her childhood.

While the story felt heartwarming at times, it just never felt like enough. Bella feels lost and spends the game going back through her past trying to decide if she made the right decisions. Her relationship with her family appears to be broken at the start of the game, and the story tries to explain how things ended up the way they are. There is a somewhat heartwarming moment at the end where Bella seems to want to mend fences, but we don’t actually get to see that reconciliation on screen. I was hoping for more of an emotional impact, but it felt like the story was abruptly cut short just as the moments were starting to feel impactful and a new puzzle was introduced instead.

The idea of exploring her past to figure out what direction she wants to go with her relationship with her family is an interesting one, it just never goes deep enough to really make an impact. I wanted to know more about why Bella was so rebellious to her family, and how it affected them. I also would have loved to see more of her and her family’s story and how their relationships changed over time in the present and not just through snippets of the past. Part of the reason that really disappointed me has to with the gameplay, which I will get into in a moment.

The gameplay of In My Shadow is relatively creative and unique. While moving throughout the four bedrooms in the home, you have to move items throughout the room in order to adjust the shadows on the walls. Not only do you have to find a way to get to the other side of the room by using the shadows, but you also have to collect different memory fragments. These fragments are what Bella uses to go back through moments of her past. The puzzles occasionally lead to cutscenes as well that help progress the story, but a large portion of the story is told via the shadows at the end of each puzzle.

The problem with the puzzles is that they can start to feel really repetitive. Initially, I was enthralled by the idea of moving the shadows to solve the platforming puzzles, but even the more challenging ones started to feel the same after a while. It does not help either that there are only four locations in the house, so the environment does not change enough to liven up the repetition. There are more than 50 puzzles to solve, but it really only ever felt like a handful of actual new ideas.

A lack of intricate gameplay can be made up for by an intriguing story. It is also possible to make up for a weak story by including exciting or innovative gameplay. The problem with In My Shadow is that it does not give enough on either of those fronts. It does not help either that the game only takes about 4 hours to complete. It felt more like a tech demo for an interesting idea, instead of a fully fleshed-out game. It doesn’t feel nearly as intricate or polished as other puzzle platformer games out there.

I love the idea of In My Shadow. It has a somewhat intriguing storyline and unique gameplay that show a lot of potential. Bella is not the deepest of main characters, but I did find myself drawn into her story initially. I also really did like the idea of moving objects to solves puzzles found in the shadows. It is an enjoyable game to play, but I just wish there was more to it than what we received.

In My Shadow releases on PS4 on February 11th, 2022.


In My Shadow
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

I love the idea of In My Shadow. It has a somewhat intriguing storyline and unique gameplay that show a lot of potential. Bella is not the deepest of main characters, but I did find myself drawn into her story initially. I also really did like the idea of moving objects to solves puzzles found in the shadows. It is an enjoyable game to play, but I just wish there was more to it than what we received.