Shadow Complex
By Chris Derosa Sunday, 6 Sep 2009

In the final part of our XBLA Summer of Arcade 2009 coverage, Chris gives us his impressions of the most anticipated downloadable game of the summer, Shadow Complex.

Just like last year’s lineup of Live Arcade, this year’s Summer ends with the most anticipated release. Chair Entertainment (developers of Undertow) and Epic collaborated to make a “Metroidvania” styled 2.5d shooter called Shadow Complex. When playing through this you’ll really see how devoted Chair was to making this game as addictive and satisfying as the classic Super Metroid and Castlevania Symphony of the Night.

The gameplay is indeed very nostalgic. You’ll start the game with practically nothing then slowly build up an arsenal of weapons and upgrades which should ring a bell to any player that went though the Metroid games. There’s hidden items everywhere and certain doors that you can only unlock with certain weapons. There’s a good amount of boss fights, and you always want to see what’s beyond the next section when you unlock it on the huge map that you’re given. All in all you’ll have 8 full hours of gameplay the first time and loads of replayability if you’re willing to try the harder difficulties or variety of achievements such as speedrunning or completing the game with a low amount of items.

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However it’s far from perfect. Some enemies show up in the background as well as the plane that you’re standing on, and the auto-aiming works sometimes but not always the way you want it to when it has to decide between the two dimensions. The story really doesn’t go anywhere, so don’t expect something like a Metal Gear Solid type of epic. While there are a good amount of bosses, there’s not too much variety in how to defeat them and the final boss, along with the ending afterward, is a disappointment. I was also a bit bothered with the map not having enough connecting areas or shortcuts which made backtracking for missed items a bit troublesome and time consuming.

But those are really small complaints when you take everything in at once and start to look at how polished and enjoyable the game really is. The point here was for Chair to bring a classic formula to life with a new franchise, and I have to say they absolutely succeeded.

Shadow Complex was played through on Hard and 100% on Normal along with the proving grounds being completed.


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