Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Month In Games: May 2016

Shadow Complex Remastered - PS4

After hearing nothing but good things about this pseudo 3D Metroid-vania title back when it was an Xbox exclusive, I was pretty stoked to try it out when it was released for the Playstation 4 earlier this month. The verdict? It's pretty okay!

Shadow Complex Remastered wraps a modern military skin around the classic platforming/exploration gameplay formula inherent to the Metroid-vania genre. Though it may seem ironic for a game with such a strong military aesthetic, movement is generally emphasized over combat. Though it's slow going at first, within a few hours you'll be double (and triple!) jumping, climbing up sheer walls, slinging a grappling hook, and gracefully swimming through underwater areas. Combat, while plentiful throughout, is a relatively simplistic affair, is often skippable, and the generous aiming and targeting systems ensure that no man or machine - including bosses - stays standing for long....but more on that in a moment. I will say that the 2.5D presentation can sometimes make it tricky to target enemies in the background plane, but you can usually take most anything out without fighting the controls too much.

Exploration and secrets are handled deftly, as the player can use their standard flashlight to point out destructable barriers, hidden areas, and other secrets without having to "bomb every square" like with most games in the Metroid series. This has the effect of making the exploration elements more straightforward and less "mysterious", but if a greater challenge is what you want you can always elect to leave the flashlight off.

The foam gun is fun. Not super useful, mind you, but you can make some wicked sculptures!

After playing this, it occurred to me that you can usually file most Metroid-vania games into one of two camps: those that emphasize movement an exploration, and those that emphasize combat. The best games in the genre find a good balance between these two forces but, as I mentioned before, Shadow Complex Remastered clearly falls into the former category. This is not necessarily a deal breaker as the fighting here is serviceable, even if it is generally pretty rote. Players looking for epic boss battles and a diverse array of challenging enemy types should beware, as you might find the game to be a little too easy and the enemy variety to be lacking. Still, the platforming here is quite good, and the 8-10 hour campaign doesn't overstay its welcome. For my money, no Metroid-vania title has struck the balance between combat and exploration better than Guacamelee! Seriously, the combat system in that game is deeper and more engaging than nearly anything else I've played in the genre, and the movement and exploration are top notch as well.

I would cautiously recommend Shadow Complex Remastered to hardcore fans of Metroid-vania games, but perhaps this title would better serve as an introduction to those who are less familiar yet still curious about the genre.

Grade: B-

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse - 3DS

This was my first experience with a Shantae game, and I must say that thoroughly enjoyed it! For those who have never played any of the games in the series, you will likely be SHOCKED to learn that they are Metroid-vania titles! Maybe I should just retool this blog into Metroid-vania Glory!, no? Well, to be more accurate, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse combines tighter, more Mega Man-esque platforming gameplay with the exploration and backtracking common in the Metroid-vania genre. The main character, Shantae, and the surprisingly large cast of supporting characters and villains are all adorable, and the game also features a wonderful soundtrack and a delightfully silly story.

I whip my hair back and forth! ...I'll show myself out.

If "cutesy" titles just aren't your jam, then Pirate's Curse may drive you to distraction, but those with a love for Mega Man, Metroid, and games of that ilk will likely be as charmed as I was. Sure, it's a little easy (until you reach the more challenging second quest) and non-completionists might find its 5-ish hour campaign to be somewhat slight, but I found Shantae and the Pirate's Curse to be an out-and-out delight!

Grade: B

No comments:

Post a Comment