By: Casey Curran
I really wanted to like So Many Me more than I did. This is one of the most adorable games I have ever played, with some funny gags that are just as likely to make you laugh as say, “Awwww!” The central mechanics, meanwhile, are both interesting and fun in the context of a puzzle platformer. Unfortunately, the areas it stumbles in really hamper the core experience, if not quite ruining the game.
While the game’s graphics are certainly well polished, the same cannot be said for the controls. So Many Me not only works with a slightly frustrating control scheme, but the bulk of the game is based around controlling several characters at once who you can turn into stone blocks almost anywhere. These blocks are used to create platforms, activate switches and block obstacles.
The issue with this control scheme is how (on a controller) the X button is used to create a new platform while Y, L and R are all used to transform an ally back into a character and immediately transport them to you. The game allows player to do so in mid-air, which can consistently be used to clear large gaps. This must be done in a short amount of time, however, and to press A, then X and then Y in the correct order when the game creates a time pressure feels awkward and counter-intuitive.
What is worse is that the controls are not always responsive. Sometimes the character will fall through a freshly made block, other times pressing a button will not perform said action. There are even times when the physics go out of control, making a character jarringly appear in a random spot. These instances and others happen far too frequently and can make the game incredibly frustrating to control.
Everything about So Many Me is cute, from the characters to the enemies and hazards. Levels are bright and colorful, with a high amount of polish to its visuals. The game does not have the level of detail as the recent Rayman titles, but the simple style fits it well.
The models and art style invoke Winnie the Pooh more than anything else. While not reaching the same levels of adorability as that lovable bear and his friends, the simple fact that it comes close speaks volumes to the amount of charm this game has.
While the music is nothing memorable, the sound effects do a good job in aiding the cuteness of the game. Even if you do not play the game, I would highly recommend looking up a video on it, as it delivers a vibe that never fails to make me smile.
So Many Me starts out strong. The game oozes charm, and the challenge is low enough that the control issues do not creep up, yet. It also opens with some pretty strong puzzles for a tutorial level. As you slowly progress, getting more followers opens up new possibilities. Then the first world ends with one of gaming’s most uninspired boss fights and everything goes downhill.
The game resets you every time a new world starts, which ends up being a poor design choice. It is as though Metroid Prime removed most of Samus’ skills not just after the beginning of the game, but every time you reach a new area after a long stretch in the last. Had the number of characters slowly grown throughout the game, this would’ve worked better for the game. As is, it feels like the game punishes you for completing each world.
Puzzles are mostly satisfying, but they can get a little too obscure — to the point where I even had to look up how to solve some on the internet, and then wondered how the developers thought I would think of the solution. Puzzles also can focus a little too heavily on platforming over critical thinking, which does not suit the controls.
The optional pure platforming segments meanwhile are torture. The checkpoint system is awful, the challenge is unreasonable and the whole experience is just frustrating. I highly discourage anyone playing this game from going after any of these challenge maps as they were some of the worst platforming levels I had ever seen. Had these not been optional, it would have been enough to dock a full point from the overall score.
So Many Me has just enough charm to make up for the somewhat lackluster gameplay. There are moments of greatness with the puzzle solving and the core mechanic is a fantastic idea, but the controls are too unpolished and the platforming is just not fun. I would recommend this title for the aesthetic, though how much that’s worth depends on whether that is enough for you.