Shadow Complex Remastered PC Game
Shadow Complex was first released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2009, and for the longest time that looked like where it would stay. But a PC remaster appeared late last year, for free on publisher Epic Games’ website, and now it’s available on Xbox One – with a PlayStation 4 version to come in May.
For reasons we’ve never really understood Shadow Complex is based in the same universe as the Orson Scott Card novel Empire. The reason we find this confusing is a) the story is completely forgettable and unengaging and b) Card is so unpopular his attachment to the game almost inspired a boycott during its original release. Although in fact he had nothing to do with anything in Shadow Complex itself.
Like the movie industry, the video game industry has become increasingly fond of reboots, remakes, and re-engineering established franchises for current generations. At its best, this can be seen as a “if it ain’t broke” approach to game design or as an homage to a classic franchise. At its worst (and unfortunately, most common), a “remastered” video game is a spit-and-polish effort to capitalize on brand recognition in order to feed the bottom line. Shadow Complex: Remastered for Xbox One is the latest victim of publishers using cut-and-paste remasters to gauge consumer interest. While celebrated back in 2009 for its solid, albeit heavily borrowed, gameplay and story, this version of Shadow Complexwears its makeup a little heavy, showing just how far we’ve come in seven years.
Shadow Complex is a 2D/3D “Metroidvania” action-platformer where you run around shooting at the bad things shooting at you, all while trying to find boots that let you double jump and weapons that let you open color-coded doors. You play as Jason, a generic twenty-something white dude who finds himself trying to save a girl he just met from the clutches of a secret organization hiding in an underground cave.
Playing Shadow Complex is fun. Good, solid, video game fun. Those who love to explore every inch of the map will find a lot to love here, as almost every room houses secrets begging to be unlocked. Progression is superbly paced, as players will unlock new weapons and upgrades at a consistent rate. Every time I found a new weapon upgrade, I immediately went to the map to see what rooms I could open with my newfound equipment. It’s a shame that even the remastered version failed to add a teleport/fast travel system, because backtracking can be a pain.
Combat in Shadow Complex is also fun, if only serving as a distraction from exploration. There is very little in the ways of enemy variation, and I found that launching a few grenades could clear just about any room with minimal effort. In fact, I had no idea that some of my encounters were designated as boss fights until after I looked up a guide. Some rooms will have a turret in place which upon activation gives the player full 3D control to mow down waves of enemies. The shift in perspective was neat and, thankfully, infrequently used. Players also have access to melee takedowns that have been expanded upon in the remastered release, but don’t be surprised if you fail to notice.