Shadow Complex: No, It’s not Metroid or Castlevania, really… You can tell, cause Ripley and Dracula don’t appear.

by wfgodbold

Except it pretty much is.

Set in the world of Empire and Hidden Empire (by Orson Scott Card; I haven’t read them, but now I’m curious) .Some time in the future, a secret organization has risen up to try to topple the US government. The game opens with the player being given control of an army officer equipped in a nifty suit of powered armor; after a brief intro, the control then switches to the real main character, Jason. Jason is on a date with a girl he picked up in a bar; while exploring a cave, she gets kidnapped and taken into a hidden facility built into the cave. A complex, if you will. A Shadow Complex. Har har.

The game plays exactly like a Metroidvania style 2D action game; you explore the complex, and as you explore you find new weapons, new tools, and new armor; the more powered up you get, the more of the complex you can explore, until you finally save the day in a rather abrupt ending. I assume the story is better explained in the novels, but I’m kind of annoyed that you would have to read a couple books to find out the whole plot; the gameplay is awesome, but the story ought to be able to stand on its own as well.

Shadow Complex breaks from the traditional Metroidvania style in that everything is rendered with 3D models instead of sprites; the levels themselves are also done in a 2.5D style, instead of regular 2D. Enemies can be in the foreground or the background, but Jason himself is limited to the 2D plane, except for aiming.

It works pretty well; I’ve nearly completed the item collection (4 items left to find out of a little more than a hundred), and the map is at 98% complete. For 1200 Microsoft points ($15 in real money, unless you get them from Amazon at a slight discount), it was worth it; I put ~7 hours into the game over the weekend, so that’s better a better return on investment than seeing a movie.

If you like Metroid games, or Castlevania (in the Metroid style, not the 3D games they’ve been turning out lately, or the pre-Symphony of the Night straight-up action variety), then you’ll be right at home with Shadow Complex. If you’ve never played games in that genre before, give it a try; it might surprise you.

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