Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: Epic Games/Chair
Remaster-mania continues to run wild brother! Shadow Complex was originally released for the Xbox 360 as a digital Xbox Live Arcade title in August 2009. Created in the genre of, Metroidvania but on a 2.5D perspective, I remember having a blast with Shadow Complex when it was originally released. It took a unique spin on the genre by throwing it into a 2.5D environment and included tons of power-ups and hidden items to collect. That was almost seven years ago and now Epic Games has decided to bring Shadow Complex to the new consoles and give it the infamous “Remastered” banner… but does it hold up?
Let me start by saying, I still had a blast with Shadow Complex: Remastered. I have some strong opinions on, “Remastered” titles and some problems with Shadow Complex, but I don’t want that to take away from what a great game it truly is. If you haven't played Shadow Complex before and you're a fan of Metroidvania style games, it’s an absolute play in my opinion. While that view of the game was definitely stronger in 2009 when it was released, it’s something I still believe in 2016. In 2015 we saw the release of Axiom Verge (which was one of my favorite games of 2015), and in my opinion it did everything right in the Metroidvania genre and has made me judge this remaster a bit harsher.
I should talk about what’s changed in this remaster, and it isn’t going to really wow anyone. The only addition to Shadow Complex: Remastered is some slightly improved graphics… that’s it. Textures look smoother and some of the environments look a bit better, but it’s not much of a upgrade. After I played this remastered version, I went back to the original to play a little and it didn’t look like I was playing a lesser version. I realize I shouldn't expect too much considering the game was already in HD on the 360, but when you rerelease a game six years later and charge just as much as you did when the game came out originally I expect some more content. Releasing Shadow Complex: Remastered for the PS4 receives a pass in this aspect as it was never released on any Sony platform prior. But to release this “Remastered” version on the Xbox One while the original version was on the 360 and is also backwards compatible, is really a sham. If you were considering upgrading from the original to the “Remastered” for Xbox One, please don’t waste your money.
Now that I’ve done my usual ranting about remasters, we can discuss how I feel about the game in 2016. Shadow complex is still a great Metroidvania style game, as I mentioned earlier, but one thing in particular doesn't hold up for me anymore. I don’t remember in 2009 having such a hard time with the targeting as I did on this play through. Being that the game is played in the 2.5D style, you will have enemies shooting at you from the background and other areas of the environment where you can’t necessarily walk right up to them. Targeting these enemies can be a real headache and I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with this. Why not add a targeting button or a button to lock the character in place while you shoot, like Axiom Verge.
Minor Gripes aside, Shadow Complex: Remastered is still a great game. Could it have used a couple gameplay changes and some new playable content? Absolutely, but it doesn’t ruin what was a great experience in 2009 and it is still a really fun game in 2016. With developers creating some great Metroidvania style games lately, (I sound like a broken record but, Axiom Verge) the bar has been significantly raised. Hopefully this remaster isn’t just a cash in like so many others before and maybe Epic Games is priming us for the long awaited sequel.