The Switch eShop has seen an impressive array of indie titles since its initial launch, and along with known quantities from studios like WayForward and Shin’en, we’ve also been treated to some impressive developer debuts — including the delightful maiden voyage of Chinese solo act Wish Fang, I and Me. I and Me is a puzzle-platformer featuring two cats and an interesting hook: players control both cats at the same time. It’s a brief experience, and it doesn’t offer up too much of a challenge, but it's clever, captivating and absolutely charming; it's well worth a look for Switch owners.
I and Me revolves around guiding two cats through a series of relatively small levels, using simple platforming to avoid enemies and environmental obstacles, trigger switches, and manoeuvre each cat to its own picture frame somewhere in the level. The trick, of course, is that you’ll control both of those cats at the same time — not with independent controls, as in Nintendo Land’s Animal Crossing: Sweet Day mini-game, but by using a single analogue stick to move both cats simultaneously. Both cats will run right, left, or jump at the exact same time according to your commands, and the challenge comes from figuring out how to maneuver these furry friends into each of two picture frames — often located apart or on opposite ends of the stage from each other.
The level design is simple and clever, and making your way through usually means taking advantage of conspicuous pieces of the environment — like trenches, platforms, and walls — to set up your pair of kittens for spatial success. You might need to manoeuvre one cat across to the left side of a level while keeping the second in place in a pit, use a series of potholes to space the pair successively further apart before attempting a jump, or pull both cats in close together to slip between a set of patrolling hedgehogs.
For the most part each level feels like a single puzzle, rather than a connected series of tricky sequences, and that makes for a nice snappy pace; in the puzzle-platformer pantheon, I and Me feels more like BoxBoxBoy! than Klonoa: Empire of Dreams. It’s also usually pretty apparent what you’ll need to do to make it through a level, and experimenting to find the right execution is made smooth and painless by quick auto-resets if either cat falls into danger. If you do need help with a solution, a simple tap of the ‘X’ button will show the computer playing through almost all of the level — more than enough to get you to the end, but leaving a tiny bit of accomplishment up to the imagination.
There are just over 90 levels to traipse through, sorted into seasons — starting with spring and heading all the way through to winter — with new obstacles and mechanics introduced as you progress through the year. Even with that high level count, however, I and Me doesn’t stick around too long; each season felt like a nice self-contained play session at a little under an hour, so it’s definitely possible to blow through everything in a relaxing afternoon. That said, it’s a lovely ride while it lasts, and we had a great time working our way through each season over the course of a weekend. And while the puzzles certainly lose any repeat appeal once you’ve worked out the solutions, there’s a nice little replay incentive in the story scrolls present in some stages, placed tantalizingly out of reach and often requiring a second, slightly modified loop-through of the puzzle sequence to obtain.
I and Me plays well, and its puzzles are fun, but a huge part of what makes its short running length worth it is the amount of charm emanating from its presentation. This is a beautiful game, drawn in a quietly compelling watercolour style — it’s fuzzy-edged and soft, like a painting you might see in the background of a Ghibli film. Weather effects — wind, rain, and snow — add to the appeal of each season, and create a genuinely cozy atmosphere. That feeling extends to the music as well, which features calming solo piano pieces and orchestral arrangements. In a nice touch, nothing loops on repeat; rather, you’ll hear a track, then have a salient interval of silence to enjoy the ambient environmental noise before another piece kicks in. Not only is it an excellent effect, it also helps space out the relatively small soundtrack so it doesn’t feel repetitive.
One final bit of the presentation worth mentioning is the brief lyrical sketches which introduce each stage. They string together a loose narrative structure for I and Me, and can be quite poetic and affecting — they often read like they’ve gone through a broad-strokes translation, which fits nicely with the generally misty tone of the game.
With a clever gameplay hook, enjoyably uncluttered level design, and a beautiful storybook presentation, I and Me is a delightful package. It’s an admittedly brief experience, and players looking for a stern challenge won’t find their puzzle-solving skills seriously tested here, but if you’re after a perfectly pleasant way to pass a few evenings on the Switch, I and Me are both a great choice.