It’s clear that Shadow Complex, Chair Entertainment’s upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title, is inspired by games like Metroid. They even have a little nod to Samus’ adventure with their “Jason Bailey” achievement that you unlock if you get a 100% clear rating in just two hours.
Shadow Complex begins with a hiking trip. After climbing through caverns your girlfriend gets captured by a secret society while you’re trapped underneath a bridge. Of course, you have to save her.
Similar to Metroid you start out weak and get stronger as you collect equipment. The first item you find is hiking gear which gives you the ability to leap off walls. Once you infiltrate the enemy base you find a gun (which conveniently has unlimited ammo) and a flashlight that can illuminate alternate paths.
Early in the game you can barge through a door, which leads straight to a fire fight or crawl through an air vent to get in a better position. If you go the air vent route you have a height advantage and are in a perfect spot to drop a walking spider camera on two soldiers to startle them. Other enemies can be disabled by sneaking up on them and executing a Metal Gear style takedown.
Shadow Complex has combat, but the game’s focus is exploration. You actually level up faster by exploring the map. In addition to finding grenade packs there are twelve gold bars to seek. Collect them all and you’ll see a “cool surprise” according to Donald Mustard, Creative Director at Chair Entertainment.
The massive mech pictured above is the first boss you meet. You can shoot it with a pistol, but that’s not the most effective way to destroy it. All bosses in Shadow Complex have weaknesses. The mech has a flimsy underbelly, which makes it vulnerable to well timed grenade throws.
Similar to Portal: Still Alive, Shadow Complex also has a series of challenge rooms where you’re fully loaded with futuristic tech that lets you run on water and build bridges with a foam gun. These mini puzzles are designed to test how well players can utilize equipment in the game. They’re also good practice for the “Jason Bailey” achievement which looks like the game’s ultimate challenge.
Shadow Complex comes out worldwide on Xbox Live Arcade on August 19 for 1,200 Microsoft Points ($15).