Friday, July 15, 2016

Shadow Complex Remastered Review (XONE)

When Shadow Complex launched on Xbox Live Arcade in 2009, most gamers assumed it would be a hot franchise with multiple sequels, but that didn’t happen.  Instead Epic and developer ChAIR just sort of sat on it for the last 7 years despite constant fan demand for a sequel.  We still don’t have a sequel, but we do have an HD remaster of the original, which is almost as good, right?  Yeah.  We suppose.  The game is still pretty good, after all.  See our full review of Shadow Complex Remastered here. 

Game Details

  • Publisher: Epic Games
  • Developer: ChAIR Entertainment, Hardsuit Labs
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: 2D Action / Platformer
  • Pros: Great “Metroidvania” gameplay; tons of upgrades; very satisfying
  • Cons: Visuals aren’t great on XONE; nonsensical story
  • MSRP: $15

Shadow Complex Remastered is an HD remaster of Shadow Complex.  The base game hasn’t been changed at all, everything is still exactly where you remember it, but it does have slightly different achievements (for a full 1000GS this time) and some challenges have been added.  Despite technically being an “HD Remaster” Shadow Complex Remastered doesn’t really look that great.  Character models look awful and the facility you explore is pretty bland and sterile.  It is definitely better looking than the original release, but not really up to the standards we expect on Xbox One. 

But that isn’t really why you’re interested in Shadow Complex Remastered, is it?  You’re interested because you remember, or heard good things about, the awesome gameplay.  Thankfully, the gameplay in Shadow Complex is still intact and every bit as good as it was the first time around. 

Shadow Complex is a Metroidvania-style 2D action / platforming game set in a large open world where you have to collect new items and power ups and abilities to access new areas of the map.  You’ll find armor that lets you breathe underwater, double and triple jump, run and super speed, and more.  Weapons include pistols, machine guns, rockets, grenades, and even a gun that shoots foam you can use to clog up machinery or even build your own bridges.  You can also use a powerful one hit kill melee attack at will, which is actually what you’ll probably end up using more often than anything.  The game world is littered with hidden upgrades and secrets as well.  Just like any good Metroidvania, you can sequence break Shadow Complex in numerous ways by getting items early, so you don’t have to always play by the set path the game wants you to. 

The gameplay feels pretty much like a Metroid game, to not put too fine of a point on it.  You move around in 2D, do some simple platforming, and shoot enemies all around you.  Shadow Complex does do some interesting things with having enemies in the foreground or background, but other than that it is a standard Metroidvania as far as the gameplay goes.  And it is awesome.  It has to be noted it is a fair bit easier than most similar games, but you find new upgrades and abilities at such a brisk pace that you always have something new to play with, which keeps you moving forward and invested rather than feeling bored. 

The only thing we would consider to have aged poorly in Shadow Complex is the story, and it was pretty poor even back in 2009.  The tale of a bumbling everyman stumbling into a shadowy military complex is clich├ęd, but serviceable.  The real problem comes from the evil PMC (or whatever it’s supposed to be) that wants to take over the U.S.A. because of reasons is just cartoonish and silly and doesn’t make any sense.  The story is easy enough to ignore, thankfully, as you’re too busy fighting spider tanks and launching missiles at zeppelins to care about why you’re doing it.

All in all, Shadow Complex Remastered is a fantastic gameplay experience whether you’re already familiar with it or are playing it for the first time.  I loved it back in 2009 and it is just as much fun in 2016 as it was back then.  It is a very replayable game, as most Metroidvanias are, so for just $15 you’re getting a ton of gameplay hours here.  I think it is also important to show support Shadow Complex Remastered because, hopefully, it will motivate ChAIR and Epic to finally make a sequel.  Buy it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.