Review: Shadow Complex

Microsoft’s XBox Live Arcade once again proves its worth with the recent release of Shadow Complex, developed by Chair Entertainment.

Shadow Complex places the player in the shoes of Jason Fleming, an Average Joe who gets caught up in a quest to stop a resistance movement planning to invade San Francisco, California.  The game plays like most Metroidvania games, using a giant map the player navigates that is divided into small squares.  Although the game has a side-scrolling 2D camera, all the character and background models are in 3D using the Unreal Engine.

Mass Effect?  No, just Shadow Complex!
Mass Effect? No, just Shadow Complex!

One of the many amazing aspects to this game is the graphics themselves.  Some of the character models look just as good as Mass Effect, which is an astounding feat for a downloadable title.  The voice acting is top-notch, including some veteran voice actors such as Nolan North.  Much like in previous Metroid games, the player is able to explore secret passageways to find hidden upgrades for the various weapons used throughout the game.  A majority of the fun from the game is exploring the map to open new paths and fully upgrade the character.  An interesting part of the game is that much of the story told in the game is learned through overheard conversations between various members of the adversarial army.  However, much of the story is lost if the play just simply runs into a room a “breaks up” a conversation.

The only real negative part of this game is the aiming mechanics.  As the game sometimes tricks the player into thinking he or she is playing a 3D game, some of the enemies will be in the very background of the stages, sometimes hidden behind foreground parts of the environment.  Sometimes it is a bit difficult to aim at these enemies in the background, which could prove fatal when battling multiple enemies.  However this is easily overcome with good use of the game’s cover system and some use of wits.

Shadow Complex is an amazing Live Arcade title that is not hindered by the fact that it is downloadable whatsoever.  Although the aiming mechanics can be a bit tricky at times, the graphics, voice acting, and overall gameplay more than make up for that single negative aspect.  Obviously a sure bet for anyone who is a fan of the old-school Metroidvania games, Shadow Complex will appeal to anyone who likes a good action game.


  1. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things. I’ll definitely pick this up once my Fat Princess obsession dies down.

  2. @Lusipurr- next time Oliver comes to visit you need to set that clip as his ring tone!

  3. One of these days, we’re going to wake up and realize Oliver’s murdered everybody involved with in cold blood. The police will read the comment backlog, and it’ll be ruled justifiable homicide.

    I need to keep reminding myself that I don’t care for Metroidvania games, otherwise I know I’d go pick up Shadow Complex in a moment of weakness based only on people’s reactions to it online. Seems like everybody loves this game.

  4. @Darth: Honestly, it’s an amazing game, and only $15 USD, so even if you absolutely hate it, it won’t be that big of a hit.