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Try/Buy/Wait: Shadow Complex

In Try/Buy/Wait, Checkpoint writers review a game and give you a recommendation on whether to Try the game via demos/buy-and-refund, Buy the masterpiece of a game immediately, or Wait until the game is on sale – letting you know if a game is ultimately worth your money and time.

Your Writer: Daxter
Top 3 Favorite Games: Zero Escape Virtues: Last Reward, Dead Space, Fall Out New Vegas
Favorite Genre: RPG
Recently Finished: Shadow Complex, Enter the Gungeon: Ultimate, Plug & Play + Kids, My Friend Pedro, Celeste
Currently Playing: Space Hulk: Deathwing, Corpse Party, Destiny 2, Hollow Knight, Monster Hunter: World
Bio: My favorite anime is Clannad. Nice to meet you!


SHADOW COMPLEX

What does it mean to take up a gun? The idea that if you learn how to shoot accurately you will someday take a life? Or to find something or someone to save and protect? And for that cause, is it moral to kill those who simply get in the way just by doing their jobs, unaware of the crawling death in their vents?

 

Shadow Complex Remastered is a metroidvania-like with 3D elements. You can run, shoot, jump, and aim with your reticle. The reticle on the screen is where you are facing at all times, so keep that in mind while running. The gameplay feels solid and the mechanics make it stand out from others in the genre, as the 3D elements allow you to shoot at people in the background rather than the foreground you are standing on. This shines brightest when it turns the game into a desperate struggle to break out from a horde of enemies.

 

Just like other Metroidvania games, you gain power ups that increase your killing power. With grenades, rocket launchers, and more, you are well-equipped to confront evil. And just like Batman, you also get a grappling hook and a foam bullet allowing exploration in unique and unintended ways. One aspect of the game I appreciate is that when you find a new gun you get rid of your old one, so that developers can have a reasonable expectation of the firepower you will use during encounters. This way they can tailor the encounters more closely to your expected build, in contrast to other games that give you everything.

 

The map works like that of other metroidvania games, but I never felt lost. Normally for games in this genre, I will lose my way, lose track of my goal, and get frustrated. Yet I never felt that way while playing Shadow Complex, which I consider a huge plus. I hardly looked at the map as I explored and didn’t need to use it for navigation until towards the end, as most of the room placements felt natural to head towards.

 

The story is about a man named Jason Fleming and his girlfriend Claire on a hiking trip. One thing leads to another, and Claire gets kidnapped and taken away as a suspected spy from a secret organization that killed the Vice President and plans to make America a greater place once more by destroying San Francisco. As crazy as the plot is, as a player it’s not important. As Jason you just shoot guys, try and save Claire, and maybe save America. Without getting into spoilers, the ending of the game is unintentionally funny.

 

One instance in particular stuck out for me (SPOILER ALERT): I was fighting in some labs, exploring all the content, nothing special. While traveling through vents, I noticed I was above a cafeteria filled with people. Okay, cool worldbuilding of the casual life of NPCs, maybe I will fight them all later. Continuing on, I fought a huge spider tank that is impossible to hit, but you could shoot some vents to release water and flood the tank out, and between shooting the pipes and avoiding missiles, I eventually kill it. Later, I get a scuba add-on, so I went back down the water to return to the lab. Everything is flooded from my fight with the tank, so imagine my shock when I return to the cafeteria to find that no one had evacuated. They were all dead, and my character said nothing. At that moment, I thought that my character was a cold hearted killer, and felt genuinely bad for the people who were caught up in a fight they had no idea happened.

 

The biggest drawback for me was the odd difficulty. The second hardest difficulty wasn’t challenging, and most bosses were an absolute cakewalk. I even beat a boss without the equipment you were supposed to use, as I skipped ahead from the intended route to an objective that was closer at the time. But sometimes, the enemies destroy your health and you are left on death’s door and in danger of being sent to the last checkpoint. Although I beat the game and had no huge frustrations with difficulty, for the review it needs to be brought up.

 

The music was fine, nothing really stood out, but everything seemed in place.

 

I beat the game  on the 2nd-hardest difficult on my first try without any prior knowledge in less than 5 hours, with enough exploration to collect 71% of the items. I could probably spend most likely up to 8 hours finding the rest of them, as although they require hidden methods to access them, their locations are shown on the map. The game hits the perfect amount of time for wandering, packed with a fun gameplay loop.

 

This game is definitely worth a Buy if you like Metroidvania games. If that doesn’t help you make a decision, look up some gameplay and see if it is up your alley. While I do not like most Metroidvanias besides Hollow Knight, this one I will remember fondly.

 

VERDICT: BUY

This game is definitely worth a Buy if you like Metroidvania games. If that doesn’t help you make a decision, look up some gameplay and see if it is up your alley. While I do not like most Metroidvanias besides Hollow Knight, this one I will remember fondly.