Shadow Complex Review (XBLA)

The final Summer of Arcade title is Shadow Complex from Chair Entertainment and Epic Games. Only announced a few months ago, little about the game was known before release. I was initially skeptical about Shadow Complex due to my feelings about Chair’s first game, Undertow. Thankfully, my worries were for nothing because Shadow Complex is easily one of the best games I’ve played all year and is a perfect swan song for the Summer of Arcade.

The game begins with a bang, as an unknown agent is patrolling the streets of Washington D.C. The agent disobeys his orders by protecting the Vice President and is then subdued by his superiors. We are then shown a couple in a forest on a hiking trip. What the couple discovers next and overcome is rather dramatic, and it’s something that must be experienced. The story is always looming over your head and it makes you feel as if you need to get to the next objective as quickly as humanly possible.

Speaking of going quickly, Shadow Complex has many power-ups that can be collected throughout to assist you on your journey. One such power-up named “Hyperspeed” allows Jason (the playable character) to race around rooms at light speed. This power-up is occasionally necessary to bust your way through to the next room, and has a very nice sense of speed to it. Other power-ups allow Jason to boost into the air with a jetpack, swim for longer lengths of time, and grapple hook onto ceilings. All of the power-ups are not necessary to complete Shadow Complex, but are highly recommended.

Weapon variety also plays a large part in Shadow Complex, due to certain obstacles and doors that can only be opened with different weapons. When you use the flashlight on different doors, vents and obstacles, each has a distinctive color. These colors are seen with the flashlight and are as follows: yellow means shoot with guns, red means shoot with missiles, purple requires foam darts, green means blow up with grenades and blue means to run through it with hyperspeed.

Combining the power-ups and an excellent map system, Shadow Complex has a deep exploration aspect. Many have compared Shadow Complex to Super Metroid because of this, and I tend to agree–exploration is a large factor of the game. Thankfully, it is not only fun to do, but also easy to do. Whenever you’re stuck or lost, the map can usually find you an easy way out along with the color coded barriers that the flashlight helps out with.

The single player campaign of Shadow Complex can be completed in about 5-6 hours depending on how much exploration you wish to do. To achieve 100 percent in the game would probably only take a few hours more. After that, there isn’t much left to do except Proving Grounds. The Proving Grounds act as short levels that are set to challenge your speed. Each Proving Grounds level has its own leaderboard that could lead to you and your friends competing for the best times. Shadow Complex also allows for starting a new game which carries over your experience points to a new playthrough. I’ve already completed two playthroughs and I’m still eager to explore more of it.

The sound is all masterfully designed to fit whichever situation you happen to be in, while the voice acting also fits as well. Graphically, Shadow Complex is the best looking Xbox Live Arcade game I’ve seen. This proves the Unreal Engine can work with downloadable games when used properly.

All in all, Shadow Complex is an excellent title that deserves to be in anyone’s Xbox 360 digital repertoire. For just 1200 Microsoft Points ($15), you’re getting a 5-6 hour experience with the production value of most $60 games. If you love exploration, good stories, or just good games in general, then Shadow Complex is easily worth your time and money.

Verdict: 10/10