So Many Me is exactly the type of game you love to root for. A quirky underdog, the game’s clone gameplay, in which spawned characters follow you and put their various abilities to use, is a bit like Lemmings without the peril of death being quite so funny. The fact it also combines that with physics-based puzzles and a blobby, green protagonist that’s as cute as can be, probably makes So Many Me seem like the Frankenstein’s creature of games on paper (which is likely why the game’s crowdfunding efforts didn’t go so well). But in action there’s a spark and a bright one at that. Read our So Many Me review after the break.
Through and through, So Many Me is a platformer. Filo is the little tyke at the head of the ship, ‘Too’ is his second in command and Brainy, Sturdy and the rest of Filo’s Seven Dwarves cosmetic identicals following him around earnestly around the levels jumping as he jumps, dying as he dies and somersaulting when Filo does so too like the world’s most adorable team of gymnasts. Each is born from the collectible seeds that are often thrust upon you by a bearded fellow who emanates God or are found by solving side puzzles on your way to the end of the stage. But the problem with this is that they are just that – optional side puzzles – and although the game is made infinitely easier with their presence, getting them is a hassle, thus becoming one of my earliest gripes with the game’s layout.
You see, So Many Me’s gameplay makes you embrace the power of numbers. One of the very first powers bestowed upon you is the power to turn into blocks. Platform too high to reach? Turn Sturdy, Brainy and co. into blocks and climb them! Being rained upon by a torrential downpour of speeding bullets? Jump up, hit the D key and put your stone buddies in the way so that they can take the heat.There’s also the typical platforming trope of leaving one character to sit on a button that unlocks a door, a moving platform, or whatever else while you move up ahead. And while the game does put your abilities on hold sometimes for the sake of a challenge (certain plants cough plumes that make ability-disabling zones), mostly, the game offers original use of having almost genetic identicals by your side and without them traversing the levels would be impossible.
As a foundation in So Many Me’s pillar it does work. Kind of. There’s potential there in the way that there’s a plethora of extra skills to master (such as the ability to pack each Me into a dinosaur suit together for combined strength power, or a single use fruit that turns one Me into a trampoline) but for the confusion and difficulty piled on top, you’d be hard pushed to recognise that. For example, those blocks I mentioned? You can undo their blockiness and recall them back to Filo but there’s no way of differing which one you want by your side and which one you want to stay in place and when you press the recall button you’ll gain back whichever Me you last converted. If this is on purpose then this – along with many of the learned abilities – are either explained poorly or not at all. And although part of the game’s charm is its punishing difficulty and plenty unlike myself can find fun in its endless trial and error, in many occasions it seems to be the fault of an oversight rather than an intentional design choice.
And by now this review probably looks a little back-to-front, bad news first, good news coming to save the day later, but it’s only proportionate to my experience in playing the game. There’s still a (much slimmer) assortment of cases in which So Many Me pulls its inventive and creative premise off. Such as the time you block its cartoon enemies onto platforms so that they can press buttons that you otherwise can’t get to or when you combine platforming skills with turning into blocks with classic ‘wait until they’re blatantly vulnerable’ plays to defeat a giant, many-tentacled boss. These are the game’s strengths and if it had more occasions like this (as in, well-managed and balanced rather than repeated monotonously), the score at the end of this review would undoubtedly be much higher and the full spectrum of its relatively amusing dialogue, in which the game recognises that its save the world story line is as clichéd as anything, would be far easier to appreciate.
I’d even argue that the game’s biggest problem is that developer Extend Studio has spent three whole years on the project, presumably with little outsider perspective. Had they been less entrenched or less determined to pack in so many skills for the Me to play with, they might have had the time (or made the realisation) that some level design tinkering would have been good for it.
Though with that all said, So Many Me also offers collectibles on the road to 100% completion, including a range of hats and costumes for Filo such as the 11th Doctor’s Fez and Frankenstein’s creature’s neck bolts. So although the game might very much be a difficult wolf in sheep’s clothing at least this little lamb is a damn adorable one.
Click here to visit So Many Me’s Steam page where a demo is also available.