Tandem: A Tale of Shadows – Steam PC Review

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is a new puzzle platformer developed by Monochrome Paris and published by Hatinh Interactive for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam. The team revealed that they aim to redefine the genre while providing players with unique gameplay featuring two protagonists and exceptional spooky Victorian aesthetic. 

The name of the game aptly reflects the journey players are about to undertake in the company of little Emma and teddy bear Fenton: not only does the tandem of the two protagonists shape the story, but the shadows play a big role as well. As Emma, played in top-down view, you will get to use a lantern’s light to create shadows. As Fenton, played in side-scroller view, you will have a chance to move across them to help the girl with puzzles and bosses. 

How does it all work together? What is the duo even looking for? Read our Tandem: A Tale of Shadows Steam review to find out!

At the first glance, the plot of Tandem: A Tale of Shadows might seem quite simple for the genre. The events of the game take place at the end of the 19th century. Thomas Kane, son of famous illusionists, disappears in mysterious circumstances. 

Little Emma, our protagonist, decides to uncover the truth of the boy’s fate and sets off after the carriage of the famous couple. On her journey, she is aided by Fenton – a teddy bear that falls from Kane’s carriage as she is following it. The duo will need to rummage through the illusionists’ mansion, beset by obstacles, puzzles, riddles, traps and horrors, to shed the light on this story. 

The most clever and eagle-eyed of players will also be able to uncover hidden rooms that will provide additional clues to the boy’s fate. 

However, their rescue mission turns into a tale of survival as the mansion is not ready to part with the secrets of Thomas’ parents without a fight. The deeper you venture, the more dangerous it gets, the more you learn of the illusionist couple. 

But the real question is whether you will be able to escape the manor or did stepping the foot inside this elaborate trap already seal Emma’s and Fenton’s fates? What is Emma’s place in this story, and how does her plush companion play into it? 

The mansion is split into five floors. Each features a separate Victorian-inspired dimension to adventure through, with the aesthetic reflective of Tim Burton, Jules Vernes and Conan Doyle.

That is to say that each and every one is impressively beautiful and mesmerizingly scary in its own way: steampunk intertwined with Victorian fashion, the shadowy horrors and light, bright rooms that might have stepped out from fairy tales. Tandem: A Tale of Shadows features all of that and more.

As you venture deeper into the Kane mansion, the riddles and traps become increasingly more difficult and interesting to tackle. Even a veteran puzzle-platformer player might find themselves lost at times as moving forward can be a complex task that consists of multiple steps.

Each room is technically two intertwined paths, one for Emma and one for Fenton, and there is no way ahead without the two helping each other out. In the top-down view, Emma will need to use her lantern to light up the level and create shadows that can be used by Fenton. In turn, the teddy bear will need to make his way through the side-scrolling shadowy realm to clear the path forward for his mistress.

Each room welcomes our heroes with interesting riddles, living decorations and, of course, traps. You will run into amazing moving attractions, clockwork soldiers, pipes with darkness inside, huge beetles and many, many more aesthetically pleasing but bizarre elements scattered around the manor.

With each obstacle defeated along the way, Emma’s friendship with teddy bear Fenton will grow stronger as the two uncover the mystery of what happened to Thomas.

Getting through the entirety of the game and uncovering all of its hidden secrets will be extremely difficult. Some of the levels baffled me for a good 10 minutes before I could formulate a strategy of approaching the corresponding puzzles.

It is quite pleasant to watch the living levels that change with your actions. Additionally, the levels are actually living: the pictures on the walls are moving, the parts of the manor are changing, giving players extra incentive to contemplate the game’s aesthetic and details.

In addition to Emma’s and Fenton’s budding friendship, each level also increases the overall difficulty of the game. The floor’s finale is the culmination of everything the players have learned in the previous levels. There are also secrets hidden in the most unexpected and hard to reach places.

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is a pleasure to play through, leaving the burning desire to learn what’s next and a storm of emotions and feelings as the game’s storyline reaches its conclusion.

Note: the Steam key was provided for free for the purposes of this review. 

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is a pleasure to play through, leaving the burning desire to learn what’s next and a storm of emotions and feelings as the game’s storyline reaches its conclusion.
  • Beautiful living world
  • Unique graphics
  • Music and ambient sounds
  • Challenging to players’ skills
  • Always wishing to see what’s next
  • Story is quite short
  • Lack of clues and tips

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