As one of the most memorable games of 2009, this previous Xbox 360 exclusive is now available for modern consoles. But, does it still hold up after seven years? Slip into your Omega Armor and let's find out.
Shadow Complex has you play as Jason Fleming who's voiced by Nolan North of Uncharted fame. Jason seems like your average dude except he's a capable fighter on the battlefield due to his mysterious past. You play by traversing a Metroidvania-style underground facility in order to save your girlfriend after a backpacking trip goes horribly wrong. As you progress, you uncover loads of gear that enhances your abilities and grants you new moves. As expected, these newly learned skills allow you to explore previously unreachable locations. However, Shadow Complex manages to set itself apart from similar games by having a truly ingenious collection of gadgets and weapons to uncover. You'll learn how to double-jump, swing from the ceiling, run as fast as Samus Aran, breathe underwater, cover things with foam so you can stick grenades to them, and much more. All of that aside, probably the coolest thing that Jason can do is take down enemies with flashy melee moves by the tap of a button. Overall, Shadow Complex is chock full of awesome gameplay set in a world that's addictively rewarding to explore.
Visually, Shadow Complex is quite decent. It looks better than the original version but it still lacks the high quality finesse of newer games in the genre. That being said, the audio is as spot-on as ever. The talented voice cast brings each character to life while sound effects make every onscreen occurrence satisfying. On top of this, the soundtrack is implemented beautifully as it always complements the situation at hand. Whether the circumstances are action-intense, eerie, or dramatic, you can count on the soundtrack to always provide a perfect backdrop. The audio is so well done that it takes the overall presentation to a much higher level.
I remember Shadow Complex being a much shorter game than it is. Just playing through the map without obsessively collecting every item will take you at least a few hours. Most gamers will probably go out of their way to uncover as many secrets as they can because every collected item has the potential to substantially upgrade your current capabilities. Expanding your maximum health, increasing your defenses, and making room for more ammunition are all very handy rewards. Finding everything and mastering the many available challenges could add a dozen or so hours to gameplay. As if that's not enough, you can also play through many extra challenges within three Proving Grounds areas. There's so much to do here that you'll feel like a super-soldier once you've experienced it all.
Shadow Complex had its problems back in the day and they're still present in this Remastered version. My biggest complaint is that you can't tilt or pan the camera at all. I wish you could hold a button then use one of the sticks to scan your surroundings because it's very annoying when an off-screen enemy is pestering you and you can't see them. Also, being unable to work out where to jump in tight platforming scenarios would have benefit from tilting the camera a bit. Next, the controls can sometimes be finicky. Whether you're trying to aim at a background enemy or string together certain jumps so you can scale a tricky wall and Jason doesn't act accordingly, you'll feel like using your own melee takedown on him. Finally, you need to do quite a lot of backtracking near the end of the journey which can be rather tedious. Revisiting locations while facing the same enemies is boring. I wish you could warp around the map.
If you're in the market for a solid Metroidvania title then Shadow Complex Remastered will meet (and possibly surpass) your expectations. Just make sure you're prepared the next time your girlfriend wants to go backpacking with you. Who knows what'll happen?
- + Tight gameplay featuring many fun gadgets, weapons, moves, secrets, and upgrades
- + Immersive world with tons of replay value
- + Excellent audio on every level
- - Not being able to pan or tilt the camera at all makes some parts needlessly tricky
- - Controls can be finicky at times
- - Backtracking gets tedious by the end