Like Metroid, but in an underground complex in the woods.

Like Metroid, but in an underground base in the woods. They're pretty much the same game.

It seems hard to believe that Epic Games, the creators of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War would seemingly take a step backwards into just two dimensions when they’ve become so adept with three. That’s exactly what they’re doing, or more appropriately that’s what their newly acquired studio Chair Entertainment is doing with a new Xbox Live Arcade game by the name of Shadow Complex.

The story of Shadow Complex is based loosely on Orson Scott Card’s (of Ender’s Game fame) novel Empire, though if the reviews at Amazon are any indication I hope they don’t stick with it too much. Though that would be going off of someone else’s opinion of course.

You play a hiker whom, along with his girlfriend, decided to do what hikers do best (that would be hiking for those of you who don’t know). The two stumble across something that they shouldn’t have, and in the end your girlfriend gets captured while you don’t. It’s your job to save her using anything you can find in the underground complex.

Aside from this, and the word “coup”, not much has been made of the story. The environments look fantastic, as do the many weapons (the foam gun in particular looks like a blast). Every character and object is rendered in 3D, but your character is restricted to the second dimension. The map has been described by the developers as the true star of the game, and with all of the secret passageways and interconnected hallways one can understand why he would believe that.

I was probably not the only one who was surprised that Epic Games showed off a side-scrolling game, and I’ll admit that when I first saw it I wasn’t convinced. As the information started pouring in though, from the game length of 10 hours to the massive boss fights to the varied and original weapons, I’m finding it harder and harder to not want this game. There’s no pricing yet, but I’d put my money on a $15 – $20 price tag, which considering the content seems fair. Expect to hear more about Shadow Complex as we approach the second annual Summer of Arcade on Xbox Live.

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