Gaming

GammaSquad Review: ‘Shadow Complex Remastered’ Is ‘Metroid’ Meets ‘X-Files’

If we want more Metroid games, it seems these days we’re going to have to look beyond Nintendo. Fortunately, many have picked up the mantle of side-scrolling, item-hunting, alien-blasting goodness, and Shadow Complex, one of the best “Metroidvania” games, has just gotten a full remaster. But does it hold up seven years later?

Shadow Complex Remastered (Xbox One, PS4, Steam)

Artistic Achievement

This game isn’t hugely technically demanding, but it looks pretty anyway. The whole thing has gotten a nice spit-shine and polish without throwing out the goofy power armor aesthetic that made the original game so appealing in the first place. The sound design in particular, though, stands out; it’s a bit loud, but it’s satisfyingly chunky and bass-heavy, and unlike a lot of games, puts the sound effects much higher in the mix.

Innovation

This game was never about reinventing the Metroidvania subgenre, and this is a straight remake and remaster, so it’s not breaking a lot of new ground. That said, the mechanics are all incredibly tight and well-executed, bar a few minor details.

Execution

It remains a mystery why Nintendo has never just bought Chair from Epic and put them to work developing Metroid sequels, because this game is Metroid right down to its bones. You jump, you shoot dudes, you search for upgrades, and you use the upgrades to open up new areas (and shoot dudes). Everything about it is tight and the game is perfectly designed to thread you through its huge map.

Helping matters is journeyman SF writer Peter David, who realizes that this game’s basic story concept, of what amounts to a stereotypical redneck militia in the woods somehow getting sci-fi weaponry and infinite funding, is ridiculous. So David made the smart decision to make this a classic ’50s SF story in 21st century clothing. Our hero, Jason, is the classic Omnicompetent Man, some dude with a bit of military training who is thrust into a ridiculous situation and turns out to be able to kick a lot of ass. The result is a hilarious bit of power fantasy that doesn’t take itself seriously, and makes the game a slick, fun playthrough.

That said, the analog stick is not an ideal tool for aiming in 2D. But at least it’s not as twitchy as some games in this respect.

Staying Power

Alternate endings and finding every secret might pad out the time a bit, but you can get through this game in about ten hours. There are, however, challenge packs and leaderboards, so even when you’re done with the game, you might still be obsessed with it.

Bulllsh*t Factor

Don’t expect any DLC: This is a straightforward remaster.

Final Thoughts

Shadow Complex is just simply fun. If you love exploring digital worlds, finding cool stuff, and using it on endless waves of digital mooks, this is a must-buy.

Verdict: Clear Your Calendar

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