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So Many Me

Score: 70%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Origo Games
Developer: Extend Interactive
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (2D)/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

If So Many Me was as fun as it is adorable, it would probably receive a perfect score. This is an utterly charming puzzle platformer that leans heavily on its colorful visuals and novel ideas. And more often than not, that emphasis works to the game's benefit. But as much as I want to say that this game is completely worth your time, there are some obstacles that keep this title from rising to stand alongside its many inspirations, including Lemmings. As cute as So Many Me is, certain aspects of its design could potentially strangle a good portion of the enjoyment out of the experience.

So Many Me's visuals will make you smile. A lot. Between its adorable main cast of tiny green jujube-like doppelgangers, the charming script (which is admittedly riddled with grammatical problems), and the bright color palette which almost pops out of the monitor, this is eye candy almost of the same order of Rayman. Color plays an important part of this game; it often tells you where you can and cannot go, as well as what kind of transformative powers each Me possesses. All told, this is a fantastic-looking game whose visuals are difficult in which to find fault.

So Many Me doesn't sound nearly as good as it looks, but what's here is charming enough to complement the visuals reasonably well. The soundtrack is a bubbly, synth-heavy suite that mostly stays out of the way. Sound effects fit the action perfectly; all the boings and sproings of our little heroes are completely apt, given what they look like. There are a few missed opportunities here and there, but far be it from me to take issue with what's probably a natural limitation of every indie studio.


Gameplay:

So Many Me leaves a very strong first impression. The premise driving the narrative is so simple that the script was actually written to be more than a little self-aware. Filo, a little green spheroid creature, ends up coming into contact with a strange liquid that bestows upon him the power to not only create clones of himself, but to transform into several different kinds of material. Under the guidance of the seemingly omniscient and strangely-named entity named Asimov (who oddly enough, resembles our young hero), Filo and his legion of doppelgangers (called the Me) set out to save their world from an unknown evil.

In terms of gameplay, So Many Me appears simple from the start. As Filo, your goal is to reach the end of a series of levels, each one rife with its own obstacles and hazards. From the start, reaching the end of the level is the primary objective, but strewn across each of the levels is a series of collectibles. Each collectible, be it a new outfit for one of the Me or special currency that allows Filo to purchase new abilities, is guarded by a mechanism that is always disengaged upon the completion of a puzzle. If you're a completionist, this level design might drive you crazy as the game becomes more difficult, but frankly, I was driven crazy before that instinct even started kicking in.


Difficulty:

Beneath the facade of cutesy cartoon creatures inhabiting a colorful world lies a brutally difficult challenge. Some of this challenge comes from the occasional marriage between the thoughtful transformation mechanics and level design that complements said mechanics. If you don't have a gamepad, most of So Many Me's difficulty level comes from the poorly-designed control scheme. The coordination required to get through some of these puzzles with just a keyboard is so unreal that when you get it right, you'll rarely feel as if it was anything other than a mistake.

With a gamepad, most of this frustration dissipates, and you're simply left with your own mental faculties to uncover the secrets of this colorful world. Still, some of these puzzles hearken back to the brutal strategy of fooling around with the game's rules until you accidentally figure the solution out. This negatively impacts the satisfaction earned at the end of each puzzle.


Game Mechanics:

If you don't have a gamepad, you're in for a world of hurt in So Many Me; the default control scheme uses only the keyboard, and it's far from ideal. The arrow keys control Filo and the Me while transformation is mapped to (D). A handy callback mechanic allows transformed Me to return to the queue of little green critters, but it's unfortunately mapped to the (Down) key, which is used for movement. Since you'll be constantly futzing around with Me placement to solve one of the game's many puzzles, you'll find yourself calling back Me when you're merely trying to navigate your surroundings or hurling your character to his death, which forces you to restart the section you're on. I cannot stress this enough: get a gamepad.

The Me all follow the one you control, and the one you control is contingent on who has most recently transformed and been called back. If multiple Me are transformed and deployed somewhere in the level, there is only one sequence in which these Me can be called back. Because of this, the game becomes more than just challenging and ventures into straight up confusion. I'm not against the idea of having to think up a solution to a puzzle; I love these kinds of games. The problem with So Many Me is that you must not only discover the solution, but you have to reverse engineer it in the context of the game's rules, whether or not they make sense.

I wanted to love this game. I love it when games play with our expectations; cute aesthetics rarely cover a stiff challenge. I also don't like the idea of critiquing a game based on what it is not. But in this case, it's hard not to; it's so close to being a great game that what brings it down (inconsistent level design and often confusing puzzle solutions) could potentially bring it back to what it could (and should) be.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8; Processor: Intel Core™2 Duo Processor, AMD Athlon x2 Processor; Memory: 2 GB RAM; Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 7600 series, ATI Radeon HD 2400 series; DirectX: Version 9.0c; Hard Drive: 1 GB available space; Sound Card: DirectSound compatible (DirectX 9.0c or higher)
 

Test System:



ASUS G74S Series, Intel Core I7 - 2670QM, 2.2 GHz, Windows 7 Premium, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M, 12 GB RAM

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