Shadow Complex

At this years E3 Cliffy B took to the stage at the Microsoft keynote speech to announce a new game from EPIC. I was expecting something big and I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed to what was revealed. Shadow Complex came up on the big screen, sure it looked nice but a side scrolling shooter in this day and age how could that be big enough to show off at E3. Well I can tell you that I was totally wrong to assume this game would amount to nothing. A lot of people on the interweb have been comparing Shadow Complex to the likes of Castlevania and Metroid. I won’t be doing that here however, and at the risk of being shunned from the world of gamers have to admit that I have played neither of the aforementioned games.


Shadow Complex is at it’s heart a side scrolling shooter as I mentioned above, but it goes far beyond just getting to the end of a level in one piece. Starting the game you are thrust into the action straight away with a prelude level allowing you to play briefly with some of the gadgets you’ll be using later in the game. At the start of the game proper you start as Jason Fleming, an ordinary kind of guy out on a hike with his new girlfriend Claire. Things soon go wrong however and when Claire gets captured by some ominous looking soldiers it’s up to you to save her and find out just what is going on. Following in the soldiers footsteps you are lead through a small tutorial until you come to a large underground base, where the fight begins.

Controls are fluid and responsive and over the course of the game a large quantity of moves and gadgets become available to you to take on some of the games challenges. Near the start of game you come across your first weapon which is a pistol, but you will soon be getting bigger and better guns to aid you. The shooting mechanic in Shadow Complex is great and works like a twin stick shooter like Geometry Wars. Take aim with the right stick and your laser sight on your weapon lights up allowing for precise shots. The map in Shadow Complex is vast and holds many secrets for you to find. A lot of these hidden items can only be accessed once you have certain gadgets at your disposal. As you progress through the story you will start collecting items like grenades and parts of a powered exoskeleton that increase your speed and allows for double and eventually triple jumping to get to those hard to reach areas. Collecting the secrets is important as they can increase how many grenades you can carry to giving you a greater amount of health.


Graphically Shadow Complex is gorgeous and rivals some full priced games in terms of the visuals. The cut scenes are to a high standard, with well animated characters and believable expressions. All of the voice work is also top notch, Jason is voiced by Nolan North who has a huge list of voice work for games including Nathan Drake from Uncharted. Although the game is played in a 2D aspect it is presented in a full 3D world. The game world is an interesting mix of cramped ventilation ducts to crawl through, large factory areas with huge machines working away and big forest areas with lakes to explore. The enemies come in all shapes and sizes from basic foot soldiers to massive spider like mechs. They can also appear in the background or foreground which can be fiddly at times to get a bead on them from your laser sight.

Shadow Complex is a highly enjoyable romp, harking back to days gone by but with all the knowledge and know how of modern day developers. The main story with all 100% of the collectables took me roughly 12 hours and is highly replayable. There are leaderboards to climb, a large collection of challenge rooms to get through and of course the ever present Achievements to keep you coming back for more. Really I cannot recommend Shadow Complex enough, I enjoyed every minute of it and can honestly say it is worth every Microsoft point.

Hi-Score – Fantastic gameplay, very replayable, amazing graphics for a XBLA game

Lo-Score – Some fiddly shooting

Final Score 10 out of 10

Written by Andy Marsh

Written by Andy Marsh

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