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.