Indie games are where it’s at when it comes to the Nintendo Switch currently, and that’s a good thing for fans of these titles. I and Me is a new puzzle platformer where the player controls two cats and guides them to picture frames, the goal of each stage. It features four chapters, each named after a season, and progresses through a dream that the main cat is having, wondering who it really is and struggling to move through each level to keep itself, as well as its mirror image, alive. The cats look like the soot balls who ate sprinkles in Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning animated movie, Spirited Away, and who doesn’t love those adorable and funny soot balls?
Gameplay in I and Me is solid and well designed, creating a challenging platformer. When one or both cats die, it always felt like the players fault. I either miscalculated the jumping arch, or didn’t give the cats enough space on the platform to keep one cat out of danger while the other one is jumping onto another platform. It’s easy to overstep onto some spikes, accidentally be bumped into a prickly hedgehog, or anger a swarm of bees that attack the cats when trying to sneak past. With solid controls, any mistake comes at the player’s expense of not timing things right or trying to perform a puzzle in a more challenging way than is really necessary.
The first season, Spring, finds the cat learning to cooperate with its reflection as well as overcome challenges, collecting notes, and generally having a good time over 25 levels. In general, the atmosphere is happy and uplifting, because the cat has a companion and isn’t alone anymore. Summer is next and it offers more of a platforming challenge than Spring. The atmosphere becomes a little bit grimmer as it rains constantly and more obstacles appear. New elements are introduced, like bouncing sheep and targeting bumblebees, but with some precision, each cat can make it to the goal. Life starts to get tough for the cat and it has to learn to depend on itself when overcoming unique challenges even though it may not like the mirror image as much as it did previously.
Autumn was my personal favorite season to play. The bright orange and red colors helped the black cats pop off the screen and allowed for me to see some more of the obstacles and platforms around them. However, in this season, the cat starts to become annoyed with its mirror image and its lack of communication. Magic Wands begin to appear, as well as portals, which cause the cats to either move in opposite directions or teleport around the screen, adding new challenges for the player to watch out for. The picture frames are not only on opposite sides of the map, but the player has to go about completing the challenges in ways that may be unfamiliar to them as they have progressed throughout the game thus far. Many times, I would go for a jump and forget that one cat was near the edge of a platform and the cat would fall into the water, making me start the level over again. This keeps I and Me fresh throughout and forces the player to take their time.
Winter seems to encompass all the challenges that the previous chapters have thrown at the player, and then adds in a candle element, which makes some of the platforms, spikes, and even enemies, invisible. It becomes guess work on where everything is, and becomes a wonderful new platforming challenge that I started to get irritated with because of all my mistakes at either jumping too early or forgetting where an enemy was placed and accidentally jumping on top of it. I am not the best at platformers – I actually used to rage quit at the original Super Mario Bros. when I was a kid. Winter challenges the player to be better and push themselves to the limit. If the player gets stuck on a level, simply pressing the X button will activate a 30 second hint on how to complete the level. It will show them how to get started on the challenging platform, but it doesn’t always show how to complete the level.
The music in I and Me is absolutely beautiful. It’s reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s movie scores. Much of his music is in a solemn minor key with slow moving feeling that seems to wash over the listener. It helps the player relax when things can get stressful while platforming and creates a chilling and wonderful atmosphere for them to delve into. The cats in I and Me are adorable and make all kinds of cute noises, just like my own cats do. They meow loudly when they accidentally jump onto spikes or hedgehogs and fluff out when they get angry. If you leave the Switch alone long enough, the cats curl up and fall asleep with little Z’s coming out of their heads. The music will also taper off and become ambient noise with leaves rustling, birds chirping, and grasshoppers singing.
I had a lot of fun with I and Me and I will probably play it again without using any hints to see if I can remember how to platform and, hopefully, die less. I and Me makes the player take an introspective look at themselves, and how they go through their daily lives, as the cat comments on its mirror image and his relationship changes over the course of the story. As the game progresses, the cat becomes more annoyed with its image because it doesn’t talk, it doesn’t have a mind of its own, and it just does the same exact thing the original cat does. Instead of being less lonely, the cat finds itself even more sad and alone than before because they can’t talk or communicate with themselves. It’s just a mirror, and that’s kind of depressing. If you love cats, platforming, and own a Nintendo Switch, pick up I and Me from the Nintendo eShop for a fun and challenging time.
I and Me is available now for Nintendo Switch and PC. This review is based on a Switch copy provided by the publisher for that purpose.