Video Game: Shadow Complex
is a 2009 Metroidvania
action-adventure game for the Xbox 360
by Chair Entertainment, a subsidiary of Epic Games
. It was released in August 2009 on Xbox LIVE Arcade
. The game is part of Orson Scott Card
A woman named Claire and the man interested in her, Jason, go on a date that involves spelunking. You think this would be a fun little date, right?
Nope. Claire is captured by black ops troopers, and Jason pursues her and her captors into an underground base, where a sinister organization called the Restoration is waiting to bring forth what it believes will be a new golden age for America and the world. Starting with only a pistol, a flashlight, and some climbing gear, Jason begins to tear the base apart looking for a way out...
Part of the Empire
universe, by Orson Scott Card
— the Empire novel was actually written for this game, not the other way around. The game was heavily promoted and released to near-universal acclaim during Xbox Live Arcade's first "Summer of Arcade" event. The gameplay is essentially just like that of a refined Super Metroid
: the protagonist, Jason, runs, guns and jumps around a 2D base, gaining equipment, items, and levels as he explores more and more of the place and unravels the sinister plot that is about to be put into action. It uses the Unreal Engine 3
and notably introduces "2.5D" elements smoothly into classic Metroidvania
gameplay, such as allowing Jason to shoot enemies in the background of the stage.
This game contains examples of:
- Minimalist Run: The game acknowledges two different levels of this challenge - there is an Achievement for finishing the game with 13% or fewer items, and a 'Master Challenge' for only collecting four percent -he basic pistol is included in the 4%, as its required to advance (and presumably, to use the sub-weapons). However, if you've found all of the gold bars, you'll have access to the gold weapons, which don't count against you. So you can grab the best gun in the game, skip the pistol, grab the 3 sub-weapons, and an additional pickup along the way to complete the challenge.
- Metroidvania: Shadow Complex is an action-adventure involving running, platforming, action and frequent backtracking as new abilities allow access to earlier inaccessible areas. In fact, the game was heavily inspired by both Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night; the first month of development was spent just playing those games!
- Minecart Madness: One brief section of the game involves riding a mine cart over a cliff and jumping out, using the extra momentum to clear the jump. At the base of the complex, there is also an optional mine cart shortcut that you can use as much as you wish.
- Mistaken for Spies: This is what happens to Claire and Jason in the beginning of the game, until the end, when it is revealed that Claire really is a spy.
- Multiple Endings: If you go back to the jeep and press B, Jason will drive away, commenting that there's "plenty of fish in the sea."
- New Game+: Automatic, and with permanent upgrades (both levels and collection bonuses) that make subsequent jaunts through the Complex much easier.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: You don't take damage from falls. Granted, this is pretty much the only way a Metroidvania can work, but it can feel a little silly sometimes when you can fall down a few stories without worrying.
- Oh, Crap: Verbatim, and in excess, when Lucius blows up the room that Jason is in.
- Olympic Swimmer: Presumably, Jason's pre-game fitness regimen included a lot of swimming.
- The Only One: Halfway through the game, Jason stumbles into the Restoration's factory, and Claire basically says "Hey, since you're doing such a good job anyway, why don't you put looking for a way out on hold and single handedly destroy the enemies' supply line." Jason points out how silly that is, but does it anyway. Claire is actually surprised when he tells her what he's done.
- The Other Rainforest: The setting of the game.
- Oxygen Meter: The player is subject to one of these... until Jason picks up the SCHCA Mask.
- Point of No Return: When Lucius blows up the central control room, you can no longer access a certain area without starting the final battle.
- Powered Armor: You eventually come across the Omega Armor. It is deeply entertaining to use, especially when fully assembled. Several Heavily Armored Mooks have powered armor as well, though their version is much bulkier and more encumbering.
- Railing Kill: You get an achievement for killing enemies by knocking them over railings 100 times!
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Guards make more and more alarmed comments about how unusual it is that one intruder could possibly cause so much damage.
- Scenery Porn: The forests of the U.S. Northwest are rendered in great detail, and the surface areas of the game aren't afraid to show them off.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: going back to the car in the beginning will have Jason simply drive off commenting that there are plenty of fish in the sea.
- Sequence Breaking: The Foam allows this, with proper use. In fact, the game seems designed around encouraging sequence breaks, which is appropriate for the genre.
- The third spider tank boss fight is an homage to the fight at the end of Ghost in the Shell. The design of the tanks themselves are pretty blatantly modeled after the GitS tank, as well.
- One of the Master Achievements is called Jason Bailey, a reference to the "Justin Bailey" password from Metroid.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: The final weapon upgrade is a super-shotgun that can kill anything in one hit, at super-long range.
- The Slow Walk: The final piece of your armor basically makes you Immune to Bullets as long as you do this.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Despite little music being present in the game, a calming piano piece plays when you have to navigate a base you flooded, complete with several still-drowning mooks.
- Spider Tank
- Story Breadcrumbs: Much of the plot can be gathered from guards who talk to one another when you're not killing them.
- Super Speed: About halfway through the game you are given Friction Dampeners that triple your speed. A few of the more interesting power-up placements involve solving a few logic puzzles that can only be solved with the gravity-busting properties of the boots. Sadly, you cannot shinespark, but you can use a later triple-jump ability to abuse the boots' charge-up time.
- Tempting Fate: In the opening sequence, the Player Character's armour locks up, via a security measure, after he beats all the bad guys attacking the Vice President. Then his Voice with an Internet Connection reveals he's actually working for the bad guys.
Dallas: At least... At least the Vice President is safe.
[black SUV explodes in the background]
Voice: Oh, that Vice President?
- Ten-Second Flashlight: The flashlight's batteries run out in just a few minutes, but they recharge quickly as well.
- The Unfought: Lucius spends the entire climax standing in his observation tower while the player fights the final boss. He's shot in the head in a cutscene, by someone else no less.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: The soldiers scream when you send them flying (whether by uppercutting them with the Omega Armor, blowing them up with missiles or grenades, dive-bombing them with the Ground Pound, or plowing into them with the Friction Dampener), and there's an achievement for making a hundred of them scream.
- Villain Ball: Lucius and the Restoration really should have read the Evil Overlord List to avoid things like Air-Vent Passageway escape and Just Between You and Me, but their biggest mistake has to be hovering their Airborne Aircraft Carrier over the nuclear missles to take out one guy instead of flying off to San Francisco.
- Villainous Breakdown: Lucius has a pretty impressive one.
- Was It All a Lie?: Jason asks this of Claire, when she tells him that she was using him as cover to get into the Shadow Complex.
Claire: Not everything. You really do have nice eyes.