Shadow Complex Remastered XONE Info

The Classic Shadow Complex Is Still Great on Xbox One

Shadow Complex Remastered 1
Shadow Complex Remastered screen 1. Epic Games

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Back in 2009 when Shadow Complex first released on XBLA, anyone that played it probably expected that by 2016 it would be a full-fledged franchise with multiple sequels.  It was an amazingly polished fresh take on the 2D Metroidvania genre that seemed destined to become huge.  That didn’t ever happen, though.  For whatever reason, developer Chair and Epic Games just sat on the game for seven years despite constant fan demand for a sequel.

  Unfortunately, we still don’t have a sequel, but the good news is that the powers that be have decided to grace us with Shadow Complex Remastered on Xbox One. 

What Is Shadow Complex Remastered?

Shadow Complex Remastered is, as the name implies, an HD remaster of Shadow Complex.  This isn’t a remake – this is an up-rezzed version of the same Shadow Complex from 2009 – but there are slightly different achievements and challenges that have been added to the original base game.  It costs $14.99, which is pretty reasonable considering the game has very good replay value.  You can easily beat it in under an hour, but to collect everything on the map to beat it 100%, or to level your character up to 50, will take several playthroughs and many, many hours of gameplay.

Gameplay

As we mentioned above, Shadow Complex is a Metroidvania-style game (see Ori and the Blind Forest, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Castlevania: SOTN for more examples), which means you have to collect new items and power-ups in order to open doors and explore new areas of the map.

  It is a 2D action/platforming game with 3D elements such as enemies standing in the background or foreground.  As you play you find new weapons to make dispatching enemies easier as well as a suit of powered armor that lets you breathe underwater, double and triple jump, and run at a blazing speed so you can break through obstacles.

  Weapons include a pistol and machine gun as well as grenades, missiles, and a foam gun that you can use to stop up machinery or even build bridges to cross previously impassable gaps. 

Upgrades for all of these items, as well as hidden gold bars and passcodes to a secret underground door, are hidden all over the massive complex.  Just like any good Metroidvania, there are many, many ways to sequence break the game as well, so you don’t always have to play by the pre-determined path laid out in front of you.  By finding the foam gun or missiles early, you can totally change the flow of the game, which is a blast. 

The gameplay itself has held up incredibly well over the years.  Shadow Complex doesn’t have particularly challenging combat or platforming – it is much easier than most similar games, actually – but the pace of the upgrades and new abilities mean you always have something new to play with, which makes the game compelling and keeps you moving forward. 

Presentation

The story hasn’t held up as well as the gameplay, unfortunately, but it was never all that great to begin with.  The tale of a shadowy military complex and your bumbling everyman of a hero fumbling his way around is pretty cliché, but serviceable.

  The evil organization you’re fighting against – a PMC or something that wants to take over the U.S.A. for unknown reasons – is cartoonish and silly, though.  The story is mostly nonsensical and forgettable. 

The visuals also haven’t held up terribly well, unfortunately.  The “upgrade” to 1080p hasn’t been kind to these 2009-era graphics and it really shows.  Character models look pretty awful, and the complex itself is just bland and sterile looking.  It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look great, either.  Better than it ever looked on Xbox 360, of course, but nowhere near the standard we expect on Xbox One.

 

Bottom Line

The ultimate question about Shadow Complex Remastered is whether or not it’s worth playing in 2016, though, and not how nostalgic we are about playing it back in 2009.  I can happily say that I’ve had a great time playing it again on Xbox One.  If you loved it before, you’ll have a good time here and you’ll be able to earn all of the achievements (worth more points now, naturally) all over again.  And if you never played it before, there’s no reason not to pick it up.  For just $15 you’re getting many, many hours of quality gameplay.  Sure, the story and presentation are a little dated, but the game is really, really darn fun and absolutely worth playing.  And by showing interest in this version, maybe we’ll actually get a sequel sometime soon, which should be all the more reason to support it.  

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