Although there is a saying that goes "no man is an island", there is a certain kind of satisfaction derived from being capable of doing things yourself. Be it because you're an introvert or just an independent guy or girl, being able to rely on the power of one is a must for many situations. In the Flash-based, puzzle platformer The Company of Myself, this is exactly what the protagonist (known as the "hermit") will be doing. For a majority of the game, he will be dealing with stage obstacles all by his lonesome. Well, almost. To make things a little easier to deal with, he is given the ability to duplicate himself. However, all his copies can do is to mimic his past actions. Figure out how to use them to your advantage and learn of the hermit's fate.
Developed by FreeAsANerd, The Company of Myself tells the story of a hermit who has retreated into himself. Why he did so is a mystery you will have to solve yourself as you progress through the game. All you know at the start is that the protagonist lives in a grassy world. All alone in this place, he spots a green square and attempts to befriend it. He finds out that it's actually a door and he goes off to reach it past platforms, switches and scary beams of light. Later on, he gains the ability to duplicate himself and this serves as a means for him to get past some of the trickier puzzles.
Each level reveals a tidbit of his story. While it starts out as if the hermit is just your average stick man, you soon learn that things are not all that they seem on the surface. As the developer mentions in the game description, The Company of Myself is a moody title. The protagonist seeks to learn just why he doesn't desire companionship. He's confused and he's been reflecting in his past struggles. Has he truly been alone all this time? What tragedy has befallen the hermit for him to shut everyone out? You will learn the answers to these questions once you've played the game through.
Although the storyline does shine in this title, that's really not its only strong point. For starters, the tutorial is smoothly woven into the game play so once you start the game, you'll be thrust straight into the action without having to play a separate segment. For the most part, the controls are intuitive so if they should be familiar if you've ever played a platformer before. Messed something up? Press the R key to reset the level. If you want to take a break in the middle of the stage, all you need to do is to press either the P or Escape keys. Pressing those also guves you access to the game's volume control.
Now, although timing things right to jump skillfully from platform to platform does have a sort of old school charm, the fun part truly starts when you are given the ability to create doppelgangers. What these carbon copy hermits do is to mimic your last action. So let's say you've sent the hermit to be fried by a laser, he disintegrates then respawns with a copy of himself. The copy walks over to the laser, takes no damage and serves as a portable platform so you can skip over to a safe spot on the ground. The same goes for jumping, so you can use several of the duplicates to create a human ladder later on.
So, what's the verdict? In a nutshell, The Company of Myself follows the footsteps of Colour My Heart, another artistic puzzle platformer. Not only do they have similarities when it comes to style, they also excel in terms of storyline. What the former does have as an advantage over the latter is that it has killer game play. It's not that it's as polished as can be but it is unique in its execution. Who would have thought of using dopplegangers for a puzzle game? Thanks to FreeAsANerd, you can enjoy the clever game play for yourself.
When it comes to looks, The Company of Myself may not really stand out from the crowd, however there is a certain charm to be found in its minimalist execution. The color palette is kept to blacks, browns and greens and the illustrations are quite spartan. We would have liked a little more polish just to keep the graphics at par with the writing but at least the view isn't distracting and doesn't detract from the experience. And what a stellar experience it is, especially if you like surprises and aren't particularly attached to sunny, happy endings, then reserve half an hour for this gem. Dark as the story may be, the game play is sure to entertain even the most skeptic genre fan.