Me, Myself & I: The Company Of Myself

By Alec Meer on December 4th, 2009 at 5:28 pm.

That there are now so very many indie platformers which concern solving puzzles with the assistance of time-echoes of one’s past self must be some sort of arch-irony. Perhaps they’re all in fact the same game, returned armed with experience earned from their past incarnations? It could only be that. There’s no other possible explanation for this trend. It couldn’t be something as far-fetched as time-cloning being a concept that imbues a game with clever puzzles, but without the necessity for high budgets and graphical complexity. Couldn’t be. And, certainly, the Company of Myself is a clever wee game. It also features a top hat, which is a sure-fire way to earn our attention.

The long shadow of Braid looms over it, the maudlin narration being very much in the same introspective vein, albeit with conscious wryness. The less obvious inspiration seems to be the Lost Vikings – it’s that concept of a team of allies flicking switches and the like to remove obstacles for team-mates elsewhere in the level. Only it’s time-ghosts of yourself from mere moments before that constitute your team.

The puzzle solutions are generally fairly obvious, but require extra-exact timing – learning through trial and error exactly how long to take reaching a certain spot, so that when a clone does it later you’re not out of sync, and even sometimes physically interacting with a time-ghost, for instance by setting things up so he ends up standing on your head. It veers towards frustration on occasion, but by and large it’s super-smart, super-rewarding and quite affecting thanks to its soundtrack and text-overs. Play it for free right here.

It’s created by a chap calling himself 2DArray, aka Eli Piilonen. Prior to this, he worked with Edmund McMillen on Spewer – so perhaps it’s no surprise that TCOM is so accomplished.

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26 Comments »

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  1. SuperNashwan says:

    Very inventive, certainly takes the idea and creates a bunch of interesting levels with it and the difficulty is by and large very well judged.

  2. jsutcliffe says:

    Though a very different game this makes me think about Flood on the Amiga, which had the excellent time limit device of having a ghost who kills you on contact, and who follows your exact path a little bit faster than you.

  3. Doomguy says:

    I was going to email one of you lot about this, but then I never bothered ¬_¬

    • Ian says:

      I actually did, and then posted it on the forums as I thought they’d ignored/didn’t like it and got zero responses. :-P

      Really good game though. Personally I thought it was like a love child of Braid and Deaths.

  4. Chiller says:

    Not nearly as frustrating as implied here (you had really got me scared). And really beautiful overall. The music sure helps.

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    Sagan says:

    I think you can solve all levels without requiring exact timing. There always is a simple solution. Except for the level where the screenshot is from. But you can make that easy for yourself by keeping to a rhythm. (1, 2, 3, use, 1, 2, 3, use, 1, 2, 3, use, and you’re done)

  6. LewieP says:

    I got quite far then gave up at one level with a disapearing bridge.

    I knew the solution, but tried a bunch of times, and solving it was just too fiddly.

    Nice game though.

  7. Aldaris says:

    The ending is the best part of the game. The rest is just fun, but the ending makes it all come together.

    • Bhazor says:

      ***SPOILERS***

      I wholly blame Watchmen for the bally psychiatrist note trope. The last level though is splendid.

      I actually think the story is much better than in Braid purely because it actually works as a story.

  8. Psychopomp says:

    Gave up on level 19’ish. Knew what I had to do, but actually pulling it off was an exercise in frustration.

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      Sagan says:

      I solved that level by spamming dozens of copies. Until I made it over. Each failed attempt increases the chances that you will land on something the next time. So you don’t need to perform a trick double jump in that level.

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      Sagan says:

      Actually I confused level 19 and level 20. In Level 19 you just have to build a large tower of jumping clones at the start. Then just stand still and wait for them to stop jumping. Then move right.

  9. Adam says:

    I solved the screenshotted level by jumping before I pulled each lever, so I had a signal of when to jump to the next platform.

    I think I would have enjoyed the game’s story more with less explicit narration. A lot of the ideas in the writing were served just fine by the game’s action, and lines like “Internally, I vizualize an overexcited man yelling ‘Checkpoint!'” drew me out of the story.

  10. John says:

    That was fantastic. I loved the melancholy, depressing theme.

  11. Lucky Main Street says:

    I love the introduction of time-travel mechanics. I played the hell out of Chronotron a while back, and I still show it to my non-gamer friends as an example of what games can really do.

    I was actually disappointed by the ending though. Narratively, it felt a little too lazy, barely a step up from saying “it was all a dream”. And in the level in which the key event happens that dictates that ending, you have no choice but to enact the event, which to me robs the ending of any sense of tragedy or even correlation to the events of the game. Is the game meant to be a reenactment of the narrative events? A metaphorical interpretation?

    Still, great game. That late level with the big gap was awesome.

  12. AtkinsSJ says:

    Wow… I wasn’t expecting the ‘last level involving Kathryn’, and the ending was really quite shocking. I’d say this is more art than most art games are, and it’s a good game too.

    Though the last level was ludicrous – I just held up and right each time, and eventually made it.

  13. Günter says:

    The puzzles were kind of dull and easy, and I thought the self-conscious, maudlin narrative was more annoying than anything. Pretty decent music, though.

  14. Caiman says:

    Locked up on me, level 18. I had so many ghosts bouncing on my head trying to get across that damn chasm that eventually the game started chugging and eventually froze completely. I was quite curious to see this ending, but never mind.

  15. EaterOfCheese says:

    That was awesome fun. Still playing it, as I got stuck on level 14.

  16. rei says:

    I read the title, and then had to do a double-take to realize that this wasn’t posted by Kieron :\

  17. Jimmy says:

    Lovely game. [spoiler alert]
    The fact that I had to spawn nearly a hundred selfs to cross the last chasm reflects well on the character’s complete mental destruction. It is great to be able to rely on yourself rather than others for some tasks, but loneliness eventually settles in, and another person livens it up. With some sort of multiplayer segment (or very clever AI indeed), it could be even more poignant as then there would be a true dispellation of solitude.

  18. Jimmy says:

    Lovely game. **spoiler alert**
    The fact that I had to spawn nearly a hundred selfs to cross the last chasm reflects well on the character’s complete mental destruction. It is great to be able to rely on yourself rather than others for some tasks, but loneliness eventually settles in, and another person livens it up. With some sort of multiplayer segment (or very clever AI indeed), it could be even more poignant as then there would be a true dispellation of solitude.

  19. curmudgeon says:

    Liked this better when it was called “Braid.”

  20. curmudgeon says:

    @Psycojester

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYCmacqcGWI

    Plus the pretentious writings about loneliness, musical choice, etc. Viva la games as art!

  21. Kerry says:

    Just agreeing with everyone else who liked the game, hated the ending. I really felt it added nothing – you can tell from the in-game narration that the guy’s basically nuts, and spelling it out seemed like a rather crude move.

    Oh, and I loved the last level – like Jimmy says, it feels like the game mechanic (and by extension the narrator) is unravelling. Very clever.

    And yes, it’s very, very Braid-like – but hey, I liked Braid. And it’s not like this game cost me anything.