Review: So Many Me

So Many Me is a puzzle-platformer from Extend Studio and published by ORiGO Games. It was offered as a free download on the XBox One under their Games with Gold program from July 15th to August 15th of 2015. Previously it was available as a demo on Chrome almost two years ago and after a successful Kickstarter, released on Steam officially July 17th, 2014 – a year before hitting the console. The core game play requires the player to use the various clones to complete platforming levels, most often by transforming them to bricks to close gaps or hold down switches.

Initially when this game was offered I was going to skip it because I confused it with the similarly named “Too Many Me” which was a side-scrolling one-button runner more appropriate for a mobile device than a computer or console. Instead, this game contains a lot more complexity in play, a story line and a cutesy art style all lacking in the other game.

The game begins by showing off the distinct art style reminiscent of an online Flash game but with smooth animation provided by the underlying Unity engine. In the first five minutes of game play, they mock the “only you can save the world” trope and the clone mechanic. I personally found it amusing, but the art style and often silly dialogue could annoy players more use to the Limbo or Braid (more serious) school of indie games.

Generally the game play for each level is based around discovering the path to the various pick-ups and ultimately the exit. The game does a good job of explaining the core concepts and powers, but many of the items in the level are presented without explanation. Three items in the early game are the laser walls, the teleporter and the spores that prevent your character from transforming to a block. Dying instantly restarts you somewhere in the level, typically nearby, so it seems many of these elements are intended to be discovered by trial and a lot of error. This is very odd in the spore case since that prevents you from transforming (guaranteeing a death the first time), puts enemies to sleep and can be shot with the turret to removed. That seems to be a lot of complexity presented without explanation very early in the game.

My biggest complaint about the game is how unresponsive the controls can be when you need very precise timing. This happens often when games are migrated from PC to console because the response time on a keyboard and mouse is a lot faster than on a (often wireless) controller. There are two places where this timing issue is most annoying. The first is dealing with turrets, where the spacing between the shots – especially from a down pointing gun – requires very tight controls. The second is boss fights, where the window to get to safety or hit the weak spot is very narrow. While still playing, I may have hit a point where the series of moves required to pull off cleanly cannot be done with my aging reflexes and wireless controller.

This isn’t to say the platforming is bad outside of the control issue, it is good but overshadowed by the very interesting puzzle elements. The process of crossing the level typically begins by scrolling around the level, making note of the most likely path and what you will need to cross obstacles. In a smart move by the developers, it still requires exploring and experimenting, as the levers, switches and teleporters do not indicate what they do requiring you to try them. It does not appear possible to be stuck on a level although there are respawn locations that make it more difficult to get where you want to go.

Summary: 6/10 too much trial-and-error along with poor twitch timing controls holds back what could be a very solid puzzle solving platform game.

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