A very specific genre has gained itself the appropriate moniker “Metroidvania”. A clash between two fundamentally-like games. Those games being some of the most well-known classic series franchises Metroid and Castlevania. In the vain of Metroidvanias Epic Games studio Chair Entertainment has delivered the genre’s spiritual successor — Shadow Complex.
Dismissive Plot and Characters
The narrative of Shadow Complex is far from spectacular, but in a game of this nature, a lackluster plot is forgivable. The game opens with the main protagonist Jason who ventures out on a hiking trip with a girl he seemingly just met. Their hike leads them down an ominous cave which quietly hides a secret entrance to a top secret military base. Jason’s acquaintance is captured by armed assailants and brought into the base for interrogation. Jason is on a quest to rescue and girl while simultaneously discovering the hidden truths and ulterior motives behind this mysterious underground base.
Classic Gameplay with a Modern Coat of Paint
Shadow Complex adheres to the formula of any Metroidvania. The main character starts out as a typical everyday sort of guy. As Jason progresses throughout the game he learns new abilities and adds new utilities and weapons to his robust arsenal. In essence, the player explores the diverse world and adds new pieces to his (initially) minimal armor. Grenade launchers, missiles, foam guns, hook shots and rocket boosters are the amount the upgrades that can be found in the game. After giving the player a taste of all the attainable gear, it’s all taken away and the player has to regain all the pieces throughout the game to once again become a fully equipped juggernaut.
Issues Involving the 2.5 Dimensional Gameplay
Two factors contribute heavily to the allure behind the game. First, the gorgeous 2.5-dimensional graphics. Meaning that the graphics themselves are in true three dimensions and powered by the Unreal III engine, but the game is simultaneously set in a two-dimensional playing field. A recurring issue with this is when the player encounters enemies that exist within the background. With the game fundamentally being a 2d sidescrolling action platformer, it can be a little awkward getting Jason’s sights on his gun to line up with enemies positioned in the background. Often times it is necessary to hastily jostle Jason left and right across the screen while firing towards such enemies.
Rewards through Exploration
In a true spirit of any Metroidvania, Shadow Complex is a game which rewards exploration. There are loads of weapon upgrades to be found and small achievements to be unlocked. The game fully encourages the player to breeze through it multiple times. For those non-adventurous types, it is possible to completely shun the exploration aspect and plow through the game in two or three sittings. Shadow Complex keeps track of the percentage of secret areas discovered or items collected.
Shadow Complex is a must purchase. Sure it has an utterly dismissive story with typical characters, but the look and feel of the game really hit home. For 1200 points the player really gets a decent chunk of the game. Playing through the campaign at a leisurely pace might take 5 or 6 hours on average, but with so many secret areas and collectibles, the game truly warrants multiple playthroughs.