Shadow Complex: Remastered Review
Shadow Complex: Remastered
While it had been known for quite a while that Shadow Complex was being remastered for the Xbox One and PS4, with the PC version out for a while, it wasn't until last week when Xbox guru Larry Hyrb dropped that the game was available immediately for $15. This classic and original XBLA game may have started small, but it quickly gained a name for itself upon it's original release on the 360, filling the hole in the hearts of many a Metroidvania player. Metroid itself was firmly embedded in the 3D realm, and Castlevania was lacking in the exploration department (they had recently dropped a slot machine that allegedly told a Castlevania tale, as best three rolling drums and a few random FMV's could). So here we are, seven years later. Konami has dropped off the face of the earth, spitting out licensed pachinko machines, and Nintendo has let Metroid's major anniversaries roll by, only offering some strange multiplayer event coming up that seems to have nothing to do with lore and storyline. ChAIR has picked an excellent time to rerelease this title, allowing fans and new players alike the chance to jump back into Jason's shoes to try to save his girlfriend.
To be honest, I am having a hard time finding words to tell fans what's new. The game has been fleshed out with new achievements and challenges, the graphics are upscaled and prettier, though even with the original in my back-compat library and the remastered being reviewed, I don't see a huge difference. Yes, it's a bit prettier, but the character models still show their age, much like when Perfect Dark was skinned up pretty, but still had the claw hands. It's nicer than a 360 game now, but still not top-of-the-line One graphics. A few new dynamic melee attacks round out the upgrade. The 360 back-compat edition runs 1.4 GB, while this one weighs in at 1.7.
It is odd going back and seeing some of the things that were paid attention to in early 360 years. The epic teeth. The shadowing that sometimes makes the eyelids look like they're glowing. It's even fun to look back and hear Nathan Drake's voice popping out of another strapping young adventurer. All said and done, though, Shadow Complex offers a replayability that has you coming back multiple times. Averaging at ten hours for a decent playthrough, you can stretch it out by finding every single unlock, or go for a speedrun in under two hours. With achievements for each and every way to go through the game, 'Cheevo hunters will have a full 1000 gamerscore to get through (as opposed to the original's meager 200), so even a master of the original game will have some challenges to get through.
Shadow Complex Remastered brings the original title to the One with a hard to find, yet shiny, new coat. Looking deeper, true gamers will find new challenges to make it fresh, and completionists will have to complete the game multiple times to get the full 1000 gamerscore. The gameplay is solid, with accidents truly being the player's fault and not due to game error. It takes a lot to make a game designed for backtracking and retracing steps interesting and memorable enough to keep gamers coming back, and ChAIR did a bang up job. I hope that the remaster is a litmus test to see if a sequel is viable. It will already hit a larger audience this time around with the upcoming PS4 release. Despite the age of the title, Shadow Complex's staying power means it still warrants the same excellent ratings today as it did seven years ago.
Thanks to the developers for offering a code for the XB1 for review.
Final review score: 4.5/5