Shadow Complex is a 2.5D side-scrolling action-adventure platformer developed by Chair Entertainment in association with Epic Games and originally published by Microsoft exclusively for Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade) on August 19, 2009. Players control Jason Fleming, a young protagonist who ventures into the mountains of Washington state along with his new girlfriend Claire. While exploring some caverns, Claire stumbles onto a clandestine underground military base and is immediately taken prisoner by soldiers outfitted with advanced weapons and equipment. Following after her, Jason must explore the soldiers' expansive "Alpha Complex" in order to rescue Claire, acquiring high-tech combat gear while uncovering the agenda of the secret "Restoration" army along the way.
Shadow Complex is known for its Metroidvania-influenced gameplay. Players must explore an interconnected, labyrinthine game world via side-scrolling platforming in order to discover permanent item-based upgrades that progressively unlock new areas of the map.
This downloadable title is the last of five games released as part of the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade 2009 promotion. In late 2015, Shadow Complex received a remastered release for Windows PC as Shadow Complex Remastered, with subsequent releases for Xbox One and PS4 in 2016.
Taking place in the "near-future," the events of Shadow Complex run parallel to those of Orson Scott Card's 2006 novel Empire. The game's prologue is set in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and follows Colonel Sam Dallas as he defends the vice president's motorcade from a hostile military force. After acquiring one of the enemy's advanced combat suits, Dallas easily dispatches the hostile troops and their support helicopter. However, his suit is disabled remotely by Commander Lucius, the leader of the insurgent radical-leftist "Progressive Restoration" army, before the vice president is subsequently killed inside his vehicle by an explosion.
The bulk of the game occurs in the Olympic Mountains of Washington state. College student Claire Duncan travels into the wilderness area along with new boyfriend Jason Fleming, where the pair plan to explore a cave that Claire recalls from her childhood. Claire scouts ahead, prompting Jason to follow after her when she does not respond to his calls. After locating Claire's discarded climbing gear, Jason discovers a metal walkway leading to a sealed door embedded in the cave wall. As he searches the area, Jason witnesses Claire being taken prisoner by several armed men in strange uniforms, who drag her through the door.
Jason enters the unlocked door, which leads to a series of underground corridors equipped with automated security cameras. Evading their gaze, he soon locates a control room with a monitor screen, which displays an image of Claire being brutally interrogated as a spy in a different section of "Alpha Complex," the massive subterranean facility in which the Restoration trains its insurgent forces and stockpiles advanced weaponry. Jason arms himself with an acquired pistol before resolving to rescue Claire and escape from the insurgents' base.
- Is This a Joke?
- Claire has been captured!
- Find the Interrogation Room
- Get to the Helipad
- Find Mr. Sweet's Laboratory
- Find a Way to Escape
- Where's the Omega Armor?
- Shut Down the Factory
- Steal the Omega Armor
- Find First Component of the Omega Armor
- Go Back to Claire
- Get Claire and Escape
- Rescue Claire!
- Guns - Guns have unlimited ammo. Jason finds his first gun early in the game and throughout the game will upgrade to more powerful automatic weapons.
- Grenades - Grenades are found at the beginning of the game and are used by firing them out of the currently equipped weapon.
- Foam Gun - Can be used both to immobilize enemies and to create platforms to jump on.
- Missiles - Dumb-fire missiles for taking down bigger enemies and doors.
- Flashlight - The player starts with the flashlight, which is used to determine what weapon to use on a given object. Grenade doors will glow green, Missile doors glow red, Foam doors glow purple, and Friction Dampener objects glow blue.
- Climbing Gear - Found very early in the game, as they introduce the player to upgrades, and gives Jason the ability to climb up ledges and wall jump.
- Thrust Pack - A jet pack that allows the player to Double Jump and boost slightly when swimming.
- SCHCA Mask - A mask that lets the player swim underwater indefinitely.
- Omega Armor - Powered exoskeleton that adds more damage resistance and a ground pound ability.
- Hook Shot - Allows the player to grapple all over the environment to access and discover new areas.
- Thrust Boots - Additional thrusters that allows the player to Triple Jump.
- Friction Dampener - Allows the player to run (at extreme speeds) across the surface of water, straight through enemies and crates, and along walls and ceilings.
- Fusion Helmet - Makes the player invulnerable to all enemy fire while standing still or moving slowly.
The game features over 100 hidden items to collect, as well as an experience system that rewards players with various upgrades for leveling up. Leveled-up characters can carry over to multiple playthroughs.
- Health Upgrades - Increases maximum health by 100.
- Armor Upgrades - Makes the various armor types more effective with each upgrade.
- Grenade Packs - Increases the maximum number of grenades available to the player.
- Foam Packs - Grants the player more foam capacity.
- Missile Packs - Expands the maximum missile capacity of the player.
- Passkey Components - Allows access to the Fusion Helmet.
- Gold Bars - When all gold bars are obtained, the player gets access to a room at the beginning of the game containing gold versions of every single weapon. These weapons give the player XP bonuses when used. The room can be accessed on new playthroughs on any difficulty.
There are two achievements tied to collectibles. One achievement requires players to get 100% of the collectibles and beat the game, while the other requires players to finish the game with no more than 13% of the collectibles.
Experience Points and Multipliers
While strictly not an RPG, Jason gains experience points by exploring the environment, defeating enemies, and acquiring upgrades. In turn, attributes like accuracy, precision or stamina, are increased automatically. A unique attribute of Shadow Complex's XP system is the idea of XP multipliers. If the player performs certain actions (head shots, melee attacks) a multiplier is added for every successful move, increasing the overall XP reward. Shadow Complex also rewards the player for defeating larger enemies like bosses by exploiting their weaknesses or attacking them in clever ways. While all enemies can be defeated simply by continuous shooting for extended periods of time, the game "knows" when this is taking place and gives less XP.
Additionally, uncovering squares of the map grants more experience than killing enemies. However, acquiring collectibles grants the most experience of all. This means that there is more incentive to explore and play through the game multiple times.
Challenge rooms are included to hone the player's skills, all with accompanying online leaderboards. In each challenge room, the player can earn a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum medal, depending on how well they have completed it.
Embracing Metroid and other similar games' traditions of speed running and sequence breaking, Chair has endeavored to add multiple achievements for these feats. The most difficult feats are not in the form of achievements, but rather in the form of "master challenges" that exist only within the game - a way to give achievement lovers more easy achievements while also giving the hardcore players a standardized set of goals.
A remastered version of the game was announced at The Game Awards 2015 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The PC version of Shadow Complex Remastered was released via Epic's download client following its announcement; this version was released for free for a limited time. The other versions of the remastered game are slated to be released in 2016.