Shadow Complex

Chair Entertainment's sophomore effort mixes 2D open-world gameplay with the Unreal Engine to create a fantastic adventure through an underground fortress.
Michael Caleb - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Violence: Gunshots, explosions, electricity, bludgeoning, and intense heat all serve as modes of death. Blackish blood comes from dead bodies.

Spirituality: None.

Language: Mild profanities used sparingly.

Adult Content: Mention of a bar.

Miscellaneous: Drugging for interrogation.

Positive: Selfless sacrifice, remorse for killing.

Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are both open-world 2D games that are praised by to this day as pinnacles of their respective series, and sometimes of gaming as a whole.  Chair Entertainment made a brave step by treading on this hallowed gaming ground with their second game, Shadow Complex.

Story

Jason Flemming and his new girlfriend, Claire, go spelunking in caves that she explored when she was a kid.  When she is captured by a paramilitary group, however, it is up to Jason to rescue her from rather harsh interrogation.

The story is based on the novel Empire by Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender’s Game.  That being said, the plot presented by the game is far from spectacular.  The motivations of “The Restoration” are not delved into, and all of the characters are two-dimensional, no pun intended.

Audiovisual

Although the game is played in two dimensions, the characters and environments are rendered in three.  This allows close-up shots from a different angle during cutscenes, melee attacks, and certain scripted events.  The graphics might not stand up against those of top retail releases, but they are significantly better than most other Live Arcade titles.

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Gameplay

Unprepared for such an excursion, Jason begins with nothing but civilian clothes and a flashlight.  Throughout the course of the game, Jason will find equipment that augments his natural movement capabilities and killing potential.  By the end, he will be a one man army, capable of easily raining destruction on all but the largest, best protected groups of enemies.  With almost every new item or skill gained, many areas previously blocked off become accessible, and searching around for whatever you might have missed the first time around is very rewarding.

The master challenges and obstacle courses bring add some replay value to the game, and having the developers almost invite you to break the main game makes it fairly difficult to pass up the chance to sequence break a la Super Metroid.

Violence

Death is visited upon Jason and his enemies, alike, through gunshots, explosives, electricity, heat, and bludgeoning, with some blackish splatter occasionally serving as blood.  There are achievements for a certain number of headshots and melee attacks, so these methods of dispatch are encouraged.  Ragdoll physics cause enemies’ bodes to contort and conform to the environment around them.   Outside of gameplay, a woman is punched repeatedly in the face.

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Spiritual Content

Shadow Complex does not touch on spirituality or the supernatural in any way.

Language

“D—,” “h—,” and other mild terms are used sparingly.

Adult Content

Jason and Claire acknowledge that they met at a bar.

Miscellaneous Content

A woman is drugged for the purpose of interrogation.  It is possible to abandon the country to chaos for a non-canonical ending.

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Positive Elements

Jason risks his life to save someone he barely knows.  Even when she is no longer an issue, he continues to fight against the Restoration’s plans.  He shows remorse for killing, saying things like, “Killing is getting easier; I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”  When fighting a mechanical boss, he says, “Finally, something I can kill without feeling guilty.”

Conclusion

Shadow Complex is a fun game with obvious nods to its forerunners.  It contains material that some would like to avoid, although it does hold back a good deal more than needed to receive the T rating.  For those who are not bothered by gun violence and mild language, I cannot recommend this game enough.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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