Shady Part of Me (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 16.05.2021

Review for Shady Part of Me on PlayStation 4

Every year the Game Awards bring glimpses of the hot new releases to come - best of all is when they take a cue from Nintendo's book; dropping a glimpse at a promising new title, then instead of a release date, a comment flashes onto the screen: "Available now!" That was the cash with new atmospheric puzzler Shady Part of Me. Fittingly this was "shadow dropped" onto consoles now, an ethereal journey where a young girl and a shadow need to help each other to escape a prison of the mind. This is a true old-school indie. A debut game, an original story, coming from a small team, and it certainly captured the attention of many at the Game Awards. Now it's time to see if the full product can live up to the trailer.

A scene of shadows. A young girl rocks back and forth on a swing before heading off into the shade. She runs, jumps, and climbs over obstacles, avoiding dangerous thorns - and as she progresses, what seems to be her inner monologue appears in the environment; her thoughts slightly concerning. They'll be familiar to anyone's introspective who has dealt with mental health issues. Introspective becomes a core theme here. While exploring, a jump is made a moment too early. She plummets. Game Over. But wait. Like Braid, that jump can be reversed; reattempted. Holding the trigger can reverse time freely. At the end of the path of shadows, the girl plummets again, no way out of this one. One path. Before she can hit bottom she wakes up.

Screenshot for Shady Part of Me on PlayStation 4

Once again a young girl (not made of shadow this time) climbs out of bed. She's paying homage to Samara from The Ring, with her long locks covering her face in the shade. Her commentary is spoken. She talks of losing something when she wakes and having to hide in the shadows. She is awake, but what follows is a dreamlike experience. She walks around what seems like an empty hospital or asylum. Hospital beds throughout, and quickly the experience of playing as this character feels different. She can't run, or jump, or climb. But she can explore in 3D, whilst the Shadow girl remains locked to her 2D plane.

She also fears light, terribly. Having to run from one set of shadows to the other, avoiding the light of the sun as much as the light of a lamp. Again the time rewind can be used when a wrong step leaves her bathed in light. The messages appear, written over the environment. It begins to seem more than an introspective monologue, the voices sometimes critical; condescending; malicious. The girl reaches the end of the path at a library, and suddenly she is united with the shadow girl. Together, the two embark on a journey. Both have their own struggles, and need their partner to help them overcome them.

Screenshot for Shady Part of Me on PlayStation 4

The story plays out over four acts, each broken down into separate levels named 'Sessions.' The journey takes the duo into giant magical toy boxes, where card pyramids the size of buildings loom over towering toy trains, through to the cold sterile ruins of a hospital, up a dank clock tower, and through funfairs and stage shows. Each of these locations is separated into puzzle sequences, often having to utilise the lights within an area to cut a path for each character to progress.

Extinguishing or blocking the light from impeding the path of the girl of flesh, or moving blocks to craft a path of shadows for her counterpart, these logic puzzles are well thought out and designed and perfectly compliment the experience of the story, playing the part of obstacles to overcome. They start simple enough, like: move a box in front of a light to cast a shadow which forms a bridge. As the game progresses, however, there is the occasional devilish little design. For instance, the shadow girl is locked to the 2D realm, but can be manipulated to walk up walls or over ceilings.

Screenshot for Shady Part of Me on PlayStation 4

Solving each puzzle is only half of the experience though, as origami birds are also scattered through each level to be tracked down, often requiring an alternative solution to a puzzle, which requires far more thought. These birds unfold into puzzle pieces, which elaborate further on the truth of the story - the story that won't be spoiled here. Introspective and thought-provoking, it plays out gradually, and the realisation of the reality is worth experiencing first-hand.

That experience is impactful in its presentation. The style and design is haunting and poignant; the environments, and their contents, perfectly capturing the noir tones. Best of all, though, is the soundtrack. There's a diverse set of themes, each stage offering up completely different melodies. Beautiful chimes; hunting synthwave; even some neoclassical tunes. The soundtrack is phenomenal and diverse throughout the entire experience. One of the great little touches is when switching between the characters, the music alters slightly. Just a little bit to differentiate.

Screenshot for Shady Part of Me on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Haunting, evocative, introspective, atmospheric and memorable, Shady Part of Me feels like a journey - and, a very personal one at that. It's the kind of journey that many in the audience will be able to identify with. It may only take a few hours, but it's one worth experiencing more than once. Just eight people made this title, and it's exciting to see what that little team will be able to do next.

Developer

Douze Dixiemes

Publisher

Focus Home Interactive

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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