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Shadow Complex is a Metroidvania platformer that came out in 2009. It was released by Epic Games. People loved it. This isn’t a surprise because it is a well-made game with plenty to do and Peter David wrote it. He’s one of my favorite writers, he’s written for Hulk, Star Trek, and he had this hysterical parody of all things fantasy series of books, Apropos of Nothing. So I was intrigued.
I missed Shadow Complex when it came out originally, but this week marked the release of the Remastered version on Xbox One, so it was the perfect time to jump in. Now this isn’t a sequel, but a re-release onto the current generation of consoles. According to what I have found, all of the graphics have been updated, but there is no new content. The visuals are crisper, and the lighting is better. The little details of the game come out much stronger, for example you can see the small glowing details on Jason’s armor as you go along and power punch people in the face.
The gameplay has not changed from the original. You get a simple set of starting tools, a pistol and some climbing gear. You eventually work your way up the ladder until you get an array of impressive tools that let you unlock all of the areas and collect all of the collectables. Your weapons improve. Your traversing improves. There is a general uptick in capability as you move along.
You get all the requisite Metroidvania abilities: Double jump and eventually triple jump, a charging ram style attack to break down walls, grenades, and missiles. You can freeze people. It’s nothing you haven’t done before, if you have played this or anything else in the genre.
I found the function of the map to be an interesting feature of the game. It does things that you expect a game to do such as fill in as you explore, but it’s grid layout and color coding make exploration more straight forward and if you’ve picked up the things you need to pick up, it leaves a marker for you. That’s great for me because I am, like, really unobservant. I miss powerups and pickups all the time.
However, I found myself going in circles when I did some completionist scrounging. It made me really wish there was a navigation point system in place. This made me consider how fast travel could also cut down on the dead ending. It was a frustration that I could have done without. Still, generally speaking, if you pay attention to the map you can move around ok.
In a game like this, a game where the powers aren’t that revolutionary, and the puzzles aren’t that challenging, it leaves the game’s story to do the lion’s share of the lifting. And this story is fine. It’s Die Hard in every way that counts, but you get power armor and that’s nice. Die Hard, I think we can all agree, is awesome. However, story doesn’t really cover new ground. There is a weird focus on the death of the Vice President which I shrugged at.
So we have fairly simple navigation, predictable power up, good fighting mechanics, an okay story and updated sequences. Overall, it’s a pretty fun play if you’re just passing time. However it’s short as I only found myself exploring a little bit and I got about four and a half hours play time for the main story. For $15 that’s pretty good.
Everything about this game is fine. I can’t say anything overly critical of it because it feels so safe. There are rooms that are absolute monsters on the harder difficulties; places where you have to your attacks to perfection and use every single edge your abilities give you. There are some puzzles that are really difficult and can frustrate the less patient, but not many.
There really isn’t anything here that stands out as an impressive achievement. I didn’t feel bored, but I wasn’t completely blown away either. It was fun being worth the time and money. It was popcorn and good for a Saturday afternoon. If you are completion inclined the game map is big enough that you’ll be able to explore and scrounge for a while.
Still, I’m kind of bummed about it. I’m not saying that Shadow Complex: Remastered was a bad game, but it was more akin to spending months getting ready to see Avengers Age of Ultron and then getting out and going, “Well. That was fine.” I’m glad I played it. I thought it was a good time and I’d definitely recommend it to people who don’t have a lot of gaming experience. People who don’t play many games would find it fun and pretty challenging. For someone who has been playing games since the Atari 7800, it’s just okay.