Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet showed plenty of promise prior to its release by mixing together a artistic space shooter with the adventurous exploration elements of a game like Metroid or Shadow Complex. Shadow Planet also has a unique history to it since the start of its development in 2007, the working artist behind the game is former Warner Bros. artist Michel Gagné who is credited for his work in The Iron Giant. His artistic vision here is superb, but I wish I could say that for the rest of the game, which happened to fall just a bit short.
Shadow Planet begins with a cool cinematic that basically tells you the story in one scene, none of which is conveyed with words or text. You just have to sort of put two and two together. A dark matter takes over your solar system, we then see a small alien get into a UFO and enters this dark matter. It would be unfair to fault the game for its minimal story as it makes no other effort to do so. The cinematic is just there to give you context of what is going on rather than to engage you with unique story telling.
“[The team] do a marvelous job of bringing this Shadow Planet to life, all while keeping its subtle and ambient mood.
The artistic vision of the Shadow Planet is where the game really excels at. Developer FuelCell and artist Michel Gagne do a marvelous job of bringing this Shadow Planet to life, all while keeping its subtle and ambient mood. As I said before, the visual aesthetic is superb with every change of scenery involving different color schemes and beautiful silhouettes in the background.
The sound design is another element of the game that I admired. During the opening cinematic we hear a full orchestral piece that sounds pretty damn epic. It’s a shame there weren’t more of those orchestral pieces in the game. Instead the game is full with ambient sounds throughout the game which I thought were cool but they don’t make up for the lack of music. I would of much preferred a full ambient soundtrack to accompany the visuals on screens but what is present is still good.
Shadow Planet’s core gameplay revolves around a UFO ship that is controlled by you using the dual sticks, and having to progress through a large Metroid style map. Like in a Metroid game, Shadow Planet requires some self-exploration and a bit of backtracking to get into areas of the map you couldn’t before. I kind of felt like this part of the game was a tad linear, I was hardly required to backtrack to the beginning areas of the game. And like Metroid, you have acquire a variety of weapons and gadgets throughout the game to help you enter new areas. Some of the weapons include the standard shooter, a claw, a laser beam, a missile, and more. these tools are used in some cool unique ways, and can be mapped to the face buttons on your controller for easy use. Shadow Planet also has its fair share of puzzles, most of which are easy but one had me stump for a day.
“Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is NOT a space shooter; it just tries to be one.
The low point of Shadow Planet for me was playing the game. I can’t say I had much fun while playing it. This is largely due to the shooter elements of the game. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is NOT a space shooter; it just tries to be one. For the most part of the game, you can simply avoid doing combat with enemies and I did just that. The UFO ship is just moves too slow for it to be a cool shooter. Though I was a fan of the boss battles in the game as it dealt with figuring out how to hit the enemy and actually shooting the enemy.
Lantern Run is Shadow Planet’s multiplayer mode. Its a four player cooperative survival mode that requires the team to hold on to a lantern with your ship’s claw as you progress through a never ending wave of enemies. Worth mentioning that the left side of your screen is closing in on you so you have to keep on moving or your team will be crushed to death. It’s a nice addition is you love the game but not something most people will spend much time on.
“Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a game I would love to see someone play rather than play it myself.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a game I would love to see someone play rather than play it myself. It just failed to connect with me, although I do value its artistic excellence. All of Shadow Planet’s elements didn’t come together so well, it excels in visuals and fails to make a lasting impression with its gameplay. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet one of those games that might resonate with some and not others. I seriously recommend the trial demo before spending 1200 Microsoft Points on this one.
This review was based on a review copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by Microsoft.