Review: Shadow Complex Remastered (PS4)

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Title: Shadow Complex Remastered
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.56 GB)
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: ChAIR Entertainment / Epic Games
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: T
Shadow Complex Remastered is also available on Xbox One, PC, and Mac.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I often read back my reviews once published and think, “Wow. You just dove right into the game with no real background.” Then I realized the reason for that. START BUTTON.

Let’s get busy!

I am told that Shadow Complex was one of the best games on Xbox 360. I owned a 360 and loved it. LOVED IT! That system had some of the best games of the generation and if you are a gamer’s gamer you probably owned one as well as a PS3. The gaming universe is one, luckily, large enough for all us gamers in which to thrive. However, I never did play Shadow Complex.

The game is packed with tutorials which then bleed over into three Challenge Packs complete with leaderboards for score chases. This is before and adjacent to the story gameplay. There is a lot of game here. Just know you don’t need to play the tutorials prior to story mode because when you acquire items you’ll see a prompt to push the touch pad for a description and even an option to perform the tutorial at that time if you like.

The leaderboards are well thought-out and cleverly titled with the ability to highlight a friend and go directly to their PSN page so you can leave them a taunt if you want. Or a begrudging congratulations.

Story mode throws the player into a brief but harrowing encounter right off the bat which sets-up the overarching plot. Then we switch to a different character. A guy who apparently picks up ladies in bars and then goes on treks through forests with them. Ever hear of Aileen Wuornos? Well, that would be a really different game! (HEY REVIEWER: Side note, in the TV show Haven, starring Emily Rose, Elena of Uncharted fame, two of the main characters are Chief of Police Wuornos and his son Nathan Wuornos. Or let’s drop all that and go watch the Oscar winning performance of Charlize Theron in Monster, based on Aileen Wuornos. Look at all the tangential connections…)

… Is there backtracking …
Metroidvania. Metroid-like. 2.5D Metroidvania gameplay. Long-time gamers should take to this like a fish takes to really pretty water effects. The controls are fairly standard with some differences. Make sure you refresh your memory by pressing that touch pad whether you have played Shadow Complex before or not. As Agador Spartacus says in The Birdcage “…as usual or for the first time”.

The map will appear in the upper-right corner of your HUD. Heads Up Display for you neophytes. Areas of the map will only show where you are and have been. Is there backtracking of which to avail oneself? Well? You decide.

There is XP to earn and upgrades to acquire as well as items to find.

Shadow Complex Remastered reminds me a bit of the PlayStation 3 indie game Rochard. Rochard has a whimsical and humorous style with the ability to disengage gravity which is not present here. However, Rochard is a side-scrolling game with gun-play and some platforming and exploration. If you have a PS3 you should check it out.

There are quite a number of alternate pathways and you won’t see them all on the map.

… You’re stupid …
Remember as you play that while it may seem really important to hurry to a certain goal, this is an older video game. Take time to explore your surroundings. There are great things to be found along the way. Things like powerups and health. Your goal will be there whenever you get to it. For an added bit of fun, attack nearby bots which will fall on enemies and “a-splode” in the nomenclature of the game.

If you find you’re stuck in an area use your flashlight to see possible escape routes and also jump high. That’s how I discovered how to do the playground-monkey-bars-hangin’-and-traversin’ thing! Also remember some obstacles may be destructible even if your flashlight doesn’t say so. Use common sense and realize you’re not stuck. You’re stupid.

Swimming is another surprise you’ll encounter. “I can do that?” Followed swiftly by, “HOLY MOLY! I’m gonna DROWN!” Hit that square button now and head to the light, Carol-Ann!” (HEY EDITOR: I… really? Do I even need to?) (HEY REVIEWER: As long as you’re talking about the original with that guy from the Pathmark commercial and not the recent Sam Rockwell abortion.)

“Come in base!! I just got into a crazy fight with a mech! Ran outta grenades and he STILL wouldn’t go down! Heheheh… ANYWAYS! I ran past him while he was re-grouping, fell into a hole and came up with more grenades and stronger than ever! VICTORY! Pass this on to the rest of the corps! Use all you got for a take down! Heheheh….”
“BUTTHEAD! Get off the phone! My mom wants to call animal control about that beaver!” (Aaaaand scene.)

Make certain you use your map to see where the hints and the save stations are. It’s rudimentary but in 2016 games basically save for us wherever we are. This game does not. The save stations aren’t very far apart. Just double check yourself before you double wreck yourself. (HEY REVIEWER: Oooooh, I feel like I’m back in 90s Los Santos.)

TROPHIES:
Platinum, yo! There are forty Trophies including the Platinum. Many are hidden. The downside may be that in order to get the Platinum Trophy you will have to play the game more than once. You will need to play the game with speed runs more than once with various percentages of completion. You also have to play the game with and without doing a certain objective. That’s a lot of replay for Trophies.

… just how amazing this game looks …
There are two ways to look at it. Either you are so hardcore you will die before you do not Platinum this game or these developers are crazy because I have a life and other games to play.

The only way I would ever Platinum this game would be if they sent me a check for $1000 after I did. Time is precious. Some of these Trophies waste it.

On the upside, there is a section of the menu in the community tab which shows you Trophies earned and how close you are to completing each one with progress bars. More games had these in the past. I wish they were common today.

Visuals:
The first thing you notice is the framerate. Whether you claim you can tell the difference between 30FPS and 60FPS, I guarantee you will notice just how amazing this game looks before you even begin gameplay. The option menu contains the typical brightness slider. Then things become interesting.

For Display Settings the developers were so excited by their options that they included default, soft, lucent, and vibrant.

I am typically a “vibrant” guy. It’s my Irish nature. I like tons of cheese and hot sauce on my baked potatoes. And I like too much detail in my filmed media and video games. Growing up I liked Zantigo more than Taco Bell because they had crazy hot green jalapeño sauce.

(HEY EDITOR: Good luck finding any Zantigo Restaurants still in operation! Full disclosure. I found some in Michigan or somewhere and emailed them about buying food that they could ship to me. They never replied. So if there are PS Nation fans near any Zantigo Restaurants….help a brother out!) (HEY REVIEWER: Go pay your respects to the exalted Purple One.)

… not a Michael Phelps simulator …
It’s amusing that while the framerate seems pretty solid there are still a few animation stutters even in cutscenes. These little hiccups are meaningless in terms of gameplay and unless you are an unforgiving so-and-so about such things you won’t care. You shouldn’t care.

Remember how during the previous two generations of consoles we might often judge a game’s graphics by how well the water effects were handled? It almost seemed as if some developers added water into their games for the sole purpose of showing off. Here again We Have WATER! And it looks terrific. Even better than it could have before, methinks.

The swimming animations however are terrible! Only drowning people make those motions. After they’re dead and caught in a current being smashed against flotsam while an alligator eats their feet. But really, who cares?! It’s Shadow Complex not a Michael Phelps simulator.

Audio:
Nolan North. More Nolan North. English language video gamers are so lucky we have Nolan North! Additionally his character here is kind of like Drake.

The score is nominal but effective when it appears. It makes you realize you’ve just accomplished something.

The ambient sounds are appropriate and well done.

I played with a open window and enjoyed the sounds of neighborhood children galavanting about as an adjunct to murdering people. I think there is something wrong with me. (HEY EDITOR! ???) (HEY REVIEWER: I’m just gonna back away from that one nice and slow…)

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
It is abundantly clear that the developers took time and made efforts to create something special with Shadow Complex Remastered for PS4.

Trophy dilemma! Developers need to take into consideration that many gamers no longer live in a world without Netflix, books, family obligations, and jobs. The Trophy list for Shadow Complex Remastered reads like a developer’s wish list for a 16 year-old high school dropout living in his mom’s basement. That is not who we are now. We grew up. Stop with the multiple playthrough requirements.

The game looks variously superb and then oddly clunky but as it is a remaster and not a remake no one will be too bothered by that small shortfall.

I found myself excited to return to my work on this review because the game is fun. It’s fun in the traditional way video games are thought of as fun. It’s not fun in any dark “I’m LEARNING every time I die” way. It’s fun in the “I just kicked that level’s ASS” way.

The pace of this game is your own. Like Mac Davis said in 1974, “Stop and smell the roses”. But I have to disagree with him when he said, “Baby, don’t get hooked on me” because I think it would be a fine thing if you got hooked on Shadow Complex Remastered!

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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  • Heck yeah, this review was a riot to read. Was just going to skim through it to see the differences in this update, but the rivalry between Josh and Keith hooked me until the end!

  • Joshua Simpkins

    Nice write up and review, Keith! I agree with your review score as well.

    I did an unboxing of this game on my YouTube channel if anyone is interested in watching.
    https://youtu.be/7OrqCbxtgc8