So Many Me

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Extend Interactive for PC, Mac, Linux, and Ouya, originally released in 2014.
So Many Me is a puzzle-platformer featuring a green blobby critter named Filo who uses copies of himself to navigate a bright and colorful world populated with a vibrant array of cute yet deadly creatures. Each of Filo’s clones follows his moves exactly, and each of them can be transformed to assist the crew of “me’s” in tasks that include operating switches, killing enemies, accessing hard-to-reach items, and solving numerous puzzles on the way to the level exit.

Filo and his gelatinous replicas come equipped with a 2x nonvariable jump and can bop on most enemies’ heads to defeat them. Killing an enemy requires three bounces, which is a bit slow when Filo is alone, but each new clone adds an additional hit, so having 3 copies of yourself allows you to kill an enemy in a single bounce.

Very early on, you encounter a pickup that generates a copy of Filo called “Me Too”. Once you have a second self, you can press the TRANSFORM button to change it into a stone block. Filo can jump up to the stone block and he will stick to it when making contact with the side or the bottom. Pressing UP allows him to move to the top of the block, which then acts as a temporary platform. The player may recall the transformed critter at any time and it will return to its blobby self and rejoin Filo.

Each level contains another “me” to be unlocked, eventually allowing for a short parade of green guys wobbling through the environment. The more copies you have, the more stones you can drop, allowing you to reach greater heights and cross larger gaps. If you run out of copies of yourself, you can recall the last stone you placed and use it again. This allows for some reflex-based platforming where you place a stone in midair and jump to it; then you jump into the air, recall the “me”, and immediately turn it back into stone and land on it. This series of moves allows you to leapfrog across gaps with just one copy of yourself.

Most of the extra “me” pickups are only accessible by solving environmental puzzles, and it is very much possible to move through the level and access the exit without ever picking up any collectibles. However, in doing so, you will make future levels more difficult, and you may actually make it impossible to reach collectibles in later levels, due to the lack of transformable critters. In addition to extra copies, collectibles include a series of unlockable costumes, rings that act as currency, and spinning doodads that act as blueprints for upgrades (more on these in a bit).

Levels in the first two worlds must be played in order, but you are free to return to any previously-visited level to pick up collectibles you may have missed. Collectibles remain in your inventory even if you die or quit before reaching the level exit. The player dies in a single hit, but he has infinite lives and generally respawns at the nearest safe point, but with any transformed “me’s” returned to their original forms, essentially resetting the puzzle.

The first area introduces the player to several gameplay elements that are used throughout the adventure. Among these are switches that must be held down with stones in order to open a door or move a platform. In these cases, the challenge often centers on moving forward without any additional transformations, as recalling the “me” will cause the stone to disappear from the switch. On the other hand, some platform manipulation puzzles require this technique, as the player activates a platform with a stone, hops on it, and then recalls the “me” to let the platform slide back to its original position.

The game also features levers that may be pulled to make changes to the environment without a need to weigh them down, as well as doors that can only be opened by finding a battery elsewhere in the level and bringing it to a control panel. In addition, teleporters let players move around between two different parts of the environment, usually to set up more complex puzzle sequences.

Spore-spewing plants called fume blooms are placed throughout many of the levels and add an additional layer of complexity to puzzles. Filo is unable to transform while standing in the hazy cloud of spores, so these challenges focus on setting up stones and/or activating switches outside of the spore zone in order to get through the area or reach a desired collectible. In some cases, fume blooms can be disabled by hitting them with a projectile or jamming their snouts shut with purple fruit. Fume blooms also cause enemy creatures to fall asleep, although this doesn’t have much of an impact until later in the game when a certain bloom-manipulating powerup becomes available.

Occasionally, the player will encounter a ring of arrows, and touching all of the arrows reveals a giant rubbery creature that the player is able to control like some kind of jelly puppet. The first creature that the player is introduced to is the Jellosaur, a green gelatinous dinosaur that can be used to kill enemies with just a touch and can smash through walls with its tail. Players may exit the dinosaur at any time, at which point it deflates and shrinks down on the spot, although the player may return to don the costume again at any time.

The dinosaur can also be used to break through blocks on the floor by falling on them from a great height. However, touching spikes will destroy the costume and the player will have to return to its original location to pick it up again… assuming you can reach it.

Other inflatable assistives include a green bird that can fly and drop bombs, and a Jellophant tank that can drive over spikes and launch rockets, but it prevents the player from jumping. Occasionally, puzzles involve manipulation of platforms to move an unoccupied suit into another part of the level.

At the end of each world is a boss encounter. These tend to be fairly simple affairs where the player avoids attacks while finding a way to get up and bounce on the boss’ head or direct a projectile or other object to hit him. Once the boss is defeated, the player is returned to the hub world. At this point, all of your previously-collected “me’s” appear in designated areas in the hub and they do not follow you into the next level. However, if you do return to a previous level, you will have the number of “me’s” with you that you had collected up to that point.

By collecting spinning blue Relic Fragments, the player may visit a blacksmith in the hub and purchase a new item. These items allow for a number of small upgrades to the player’s abilities and those of the inflatable creatures. These include a spinning jump that lets the player avoid contact damage while in the air, as well as the ability to automatically recall and redeploy a stone block with a single button press, thus allowing for much quicker and easier ascents. In addition to finding these blueprints, the player must have collected enough rings to make the purchase. Most levels contain one ring, and there are a number of additional rings awaiting players in a special challenge area that is also accessible from the hub.

The challenge area contains 15 levels that truly put the player’s skills to the test. Each level has two rings, with one ring generally appearing along the main path and a second appearing in a harder-to-reach area. Unlike the main stages where players keep collectibles upon death, dying here returns the player to the start of the stage. Touching a ring merely sends it to the end of the level to be picked up as you leave, although you are free to collect the two rings on separate attempts.

Some of these challenge levels feature forced scrolling and some feature environments packed with spikes that require the player to make multiple midair transformations with only one “me”. Many of the challenges don’t allow the player any additional “me’s” at all, and require that he bounce on enemies’ heads to reach higher platforms and move into new areas… keeping in mind that three hits on an enemy will destroy it. These challenge areas remain locked until you have collected the requisite number of “me’s” in the main game, and a counter shows how many more you need to collect before the challenge is opened.

The second world introduces the player to “Transmuter Fruit”, which appears in multiple varieties. The first type you encounter is a red fruit, and passing through it will cause one of your “me’s” to turn red and the fruit will disappear. From here, pressing the TRANSFORM button doesn’t turn the “me” into stone, but rather into a bouncing rubber block.

These blocks can be used to reach higher areas, or to bounce up through clouds of fume bloom spores. Jumping onto a rubber block from a great height allows you to reach a similarly great height on the return bounce, allowing you to cross very large gaps and reach high areas without additional transformations. Rubber blocks can also be used to deflect projectiles from turrets, sending them off in 90 degree angles, and potentially killing enemies, disabling fume blooms, or destroying blocks in the process.

Recalling the “me” makes the bouncing block disappear and also causes the red fruit to re-grow instantly so the player may collect it again if needed. Puzzle solutions get more complex with this new element, especially given the fact that the player automatically recalls the last block dropped. As such, you may need to drop a stone in a specific location, then go and collect the red fruit, drop a red bouncing block and use it, potentially recalling it in midair so that you can transform it into stone without affecting the first stone that you dropped. In addition, since death returns all “me’s” to their original forms, failing the puzzle solution generally means that you’ll need to repeat a complex series of block drops in order to move forward.

Other Transmuter Fruit flavors include a blue fruit that turns you into a floating boxing glove that can push puffy white clouds upwards – although it is destroyed by storm clouds – and it is affected by air currents from switch-operated fans. There’s also a yellow fruit that turns your block into a glowing light. These lights can be used to mesmerize fume blooms (except for the ones wearing sunglasses) and make them change the direction of their spore emissions.

This glow ability allows for complex sequences where you can move spores out of an area where you need to drop blocks, or redirect the spores to make enemies fall asleep. This is particularly useful for sentry enemies that scan their immediate area and kill you instantly when you get in range. By directing a cloud of spores in their direction, they will fall asleep and you can climb up and bounce them into oblivion. You can also use the lights to direct these sentry enemies to aim toward them, allowing you to use their deadly lasers to cut through blocks for you, or just distracting them so you can move in from behind and kill them.

The game is largely linear at the outset, granting players the ability to return to any previously-visited area, but otherwise requiring that levels be completed in order. While players may find themselves stumped at the solution required to reach a certain collectible, the path to the level exit is generally fairly straightforward, allowing players to skip many challenging sequences and return to them later if desired. After completing the second world, three new worlds open up, two of which may be played in any order, and players may freely switch between these worlds via the map interface, allowing for a bit of nonlinearity.

In addition to the cartoony aesthetics, the game also features a lighthearted and humorous story, with numerous dialogue exchanges between Filo and his clones, as well as exchanges with bosses, the primary quest giver, and the occasional NPC… although the writing offers a bit of subject-verb disagreement during some of these sequences.

So Many Me was developed by Extend Interactive, based in Bangkok, Thailand. The studio also developed the 2.5D platformer shooter A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda as well as several mobile titles. The game was published by ORiGO Games, which also published A.R.E.S., as well as Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage.