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Shadow Platforming Game SCHiM Is As Fun As I Hoped

There's a demo out now on Steam

A screenshot from the game "SCHiM:" a pool of light on a nighttime train platform

I’ve been excited for shadow-jumping platform game SCHiM since I first heard about it…I’ll be honest, I can’t even remember, 2022? It comes out in July, but there’s a demo on Steam now, and it’s pretty great.

If you put aside the essential weirdness of the concept, SCHiM is simple: you play a little critter that’s attached to the shadow of a specific person. You get separated from that person and have to wander the world in search of them. You’re a little shadow dude, so you can only move in other shadows: hopping between them, hitching rides in the shadows of cars and pedestrians, and occasionally interacting with your environment to create new shadows to navigate.

The game’s world is rendered in outline and broad colors, making it feel both basic and foreign, and this is a choice that really made me feel like the shadows were their own world adjacent to the human one, where an empty bike rack or two people talking was a secret place just for me. While other games have you platforming along objects, SCHiM’s focus on where objects aren’t is such a fun, weird way to think about space. The length of a lamppost becomes a skinny river to swim in, or a busy roadway becomes an inverted game of Frogger. There’s this wonderful sense of exploring the neglected corners of the everyday world that’s just delightful, a feeling added to by the game’s chill music and the charming splash sound effect as you move between shadows.

The platforming in the demo wasn’t terribly challenging, though that could change through the full game. Some levels are straightforward, working your way down the street by leaping between a row of shadows. Other levels introduce new challenges: studying the routes of joggers to get across a sunny bridge, or timing your leaps between moving cars. You can survive for a couple hops out of the shadows before you’re teleported back to where you came from, so it feels low-stakes to try things out, though I was occasionally swept up in the shadows of a moving car or cyclist and carried pretty far away from my goal. But even this feels fun, a playful way to throw yourself at the mercy of the world and see where it takes you. 

I am so into this game. It feels like play in the way games can sometimes lose sight of in pursuit of technical polish or ever-increasing skill challenges, like how playing “the floor is lava” felt as a kid. The full game comes out July 18 on Steam, Switch, and PlayStation, and I’m so excited to see more of it.

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