Development studio Chair’s “Shadow Complex” hit X-Box Live Arcade this week and has made quite an impact. This side-scrolling game tells the tale of Jason Fleming and his girlfriend Claire who stumble across a clandestine paramilitary organization while exploring a cave. Claire is kidnapped by the group and like any good video game boyfriend, Jason embarks on a mission to save her.
Just to get it out of the way early, this game is awesome. It’s got to be the best X-Box Live game this year, if not ever. Even better, it’s only $15 (or 1200 Microsoft Points). If you’ve got a X-Box 360, you need to play this game.
The graphics are solid and occasionally striking. Swimming through flooded sections of the enemy base, complete with floating office supplies and trash is a treat. Though the movement is strictly 2-D, the game adds an element of 3-D by having enemies attack from the “background” of the rooms, providing a depth to screens. The controls are rock solid. Even when making intricate double- or triple- (!!) jumps, it’s easy to maneuver just how you want. Using the wide variety of weapons and equipment at your disposal never feels cumbersome or forced.
Playing this game is a flashback to the glory days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. With all the exploring, sneaking and upgrading of weapons/armor, the entire game is a clear homage to old-school titles like “Metal Gear” and “Metroid.” (There’s even a nod to “Metroid’s” classic ‘Justin Bailey’ cheat code.) The game is chock full of secret nooks and hidden items for you to discover. With over 100 items to uncover, thankfully the developers have included a map feature that shows which rooms have secrets to discover. Even with that information, it’s still a challenge to ferret out where the items are hidden and figure out how to get to them.
While the game is fairly short, there’s plenty of replay value to it, encouraging you to play through multiple times. There’s also a series of “Proving Ground” maps, which challenge you to overcome the obstacles in the room using a limited set of equpment. They’re perfectly balanced, difficult without being frustration (with the exception of the two I still haven’t figured out!). If you’re itching for a great game topped with some sweet nostalgia, all for a cheap price, “Shadow Complex” is the way to go.