3 out of 5. So-bad-it's-good Action Movie style story with wonky experimental 2.5D combat and excellent Metroidvania style exploration. A fun romp overall.

How Metroidvania is it? High Fit. Besides the 2.5D combat, the game's mechanics fit in pretty close to the Metroid series.
Primary Challenge: Exploration Focus, Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~7 hours
Review Info: Shadow Complex was played on Steam.

More Info

Developer: ChAIR Entertainment
Publisher: Epic Games
Sub-genre: Metroid-Like
Features: Map System, Multiple Difficulty modes, Guide/Hint System, 2D Platformer, Ranged Combat, Narrative/Cutscenes Story Telling, Power Fantasy, Blood and Gore
Difficulty: Low, Medium
Linearity/Openness: High Gating - Guided
Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Steam, Epic Store, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date: 2009/08/19
Available Languages: English, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese

Store Links

    Amazon    Steam    Epic Store    Playstation    Xbox Store    

Buy Shadow Complex if you like…

  • Corny Action Movies
  • Run and Gun
  • Finding lots of different ammo power-ups
  • Fast Paced movement
  • Guided exploration with lots of optional pathing

▼ Review continues below ▼

Shadow Complex is really stupid fun. The game begins with a man named Jason and his girlfriend going on an afternoon hike in the verdant Uncanny Valley, when they basically trip over a huge terrorist complex where which Jason proceeds to MURDER EVERYTHING in sight. Jason spouts dreadful lines like “Huh, the killing is getting easier, I wonder if that’s a good thing. Yeahh… That’s a good thing” as my suspension of disbelief is busy jumping over a sharknado at the rest of the story’s happenings. I found the game’s narrative hilariously “So bad it’s good”, but it’s only right on the edge of the kind of stupidity that could make it a “Great” so-bad-it’s-good thing.

I say that possibly because the gameplay is a mixed bag. On the one hand the level design, up until the final chapter of the game, is actually pretty well laid out. It’s fun to explore around and collect things, and for better or worse your next objective path is laid out for you, meaning that unless you’re being OCD about power-ups you skipped, the backtracking is relatively minimal. It does kind of lose that value in the late game however when you’ve revealed a majority of the map and you’re told to go collect the last most-important items you missed. You’re locked out of acquiring the items except by specific entry points for no other reason than “The door is apparently stuck”. which felt unnecessarily restrictive. Jason moves fast, and while he’s a little wonky, I thought it was fun to navigate the passageways with him overall.

However, the combat just isn’t good – which makes it a great thing that it comes in pretty short bursts. They tried to do this 2.5D thing where enemies come at you from the background layer, but since you control your character on a 2D plain you basically have to spray and pray to target enemies in that layer. There may be some nuance to it I just didn’t get in this playthrough, but I can’t imagine having a lot of fun on the harder difficulties messing around with aiming. What they could have done is had the right analog control a cross hair for more accurate shooting, but I doubt that would have improved it all that much. Bosses were just boring; almost every single one could be defeated by finding a safe distance and then casually tapping the grenade button over and over again until it’s dead.

In spite of these problems though, I enjoyed my time with Shadow Complex. I wouldn’t call it a “Great” by any means, but for a game I probably got for free it wasn’t the worst way to spend 5 hours of time. I ended up getting 62%ish of the game’s collectables and completed 80% of the power armor.

Final Score


Scoring system overview

Metroidvania Breakdown

– 2

Tried to do a weird 2.5 thing that didn't end up being nuanced enough to be challenging, or even go beyond boring in some cases

– 3

Jumping as quick and heavy and with power-ups its fun to speed through places

– 3.5

The complex is deep and full of optional content. A generous hint system makes it unfrustrating to get 100%

– 2

Puzzles are few and far between, but it's not a focus so it's okay.

– 2

The story is so-bad-it's-good. It got me to laugh out loud, but it won't be winning any awards for depth

– 3.5

Character models are pretty uncanny valley by today's standards, especially the girlfriend

– 3

Effective but unmemorable

– 2.5

Once you get 100% completion, you can try a harder difficulty if you didn't already start on the hardest

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