Published on August 31st, 2011 | by Gabriel0
Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Summary: Gabriel takes a look at Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, is it any good? read the review to find out!
From the minds of Joe Olson and Michel Gagné, comes Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, a XBLA game that places you into a small spaceship in a mysterious and weird alien planet, and sets you free. If your looking for a Metroidvania type of game, look no further. But is it all it could’ve been?
The game presents a simple enough premise: you’re the last survivor of an alien race, after a dark force invaded your solar system. Now, it’s your job to take care of these invaders. Bear in mind, there is no real, explicit narrating going on in this game. All of this backstory is presented by short videos featuring the amazing art and animation that the whole game possess and some nice orchestral pieces to accompany them. Other than that, nothing else is plainly stated. As I said, the animation is top-notch, bringing the whole planet to life, from the smallest air bubbles in the water to the tentacles of the many different alien specimens invading your planet. The sound design is very reminiscent of Limbo. Most of it is encompassed by ambient noises and the noises your little saucer does. It is all expertly done, although I would be lying if I didn’t say I would of liked more music to be present in the game. But otherwise, the presentation is impeccable.
The game gives you a large map to explore, and like Metroid or Castlevania games, not everything can be accessed at first. Throughout your adventure, you will gain different gadgets and weapons, which you must then use to overcome obstacles and open up new ways in the map. This involves a lot of backtracking, something that isn’t usually welcome in many games, but with the constant upgrades, weapons and gadgets, exploring the whole map is a lot of fun and a big part of the game itself. More than just a big part actually. 85% of the game is made up of exploring and solving puzzles with these new gadgets you will acquire. There are enemies present and you are able of fighting back, but it’s obvious that the combat wasn’t the priority, and sadly, it shows with how imprecise the weapons sometimes are and how annoying some enemies are to take out, even when using the indicated weapon. But, although the combat isn’t a high point, the giant bosses are. You will face off against a few throughout your adventure, bosses hundreds of times bigger than you, and these are all phenomenal. These work as somewhat of a giant puzzle, although there is a bit of combat involved, and they are all satisfying to take out.
In addition to the campaign, the game features a co-op mode called Lantern Run. It’s a fun survival game for up to 4 players (locally or online) where each player must drag a lantern across a series of caves while also trying to not be devoured by a giant tentacled alien that is behind them. It can be pretty fun, especially with the full 4 players.
Unfortunately, ITSP has two major flaws: length and pacing. The game is extremely short, around 4 hours, even with all the backtracking that is involved. It’s disappointing seeing how interesting the world is and how fun it is too use the items you get. Too bad that your time with them is fairly short. Also, the pacing seems a bit off. The thing is, you might not notice it until the end. Usually you can tell when you’re reaching the end of something, be it a game or a movie. You can see a resolution, an outcome in sight. In ITSP, it just ends. Before you know it, you’ll be killing the last boss and the game abruptly ends. You don’t even realize it’s the last one until the final cutscene pops up and the credits roll.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a great game, both gameplay-wise and visually. Sadly, some shortcomings in its design keep it from being an amazing game. The pacing is off, something that is accentuated by how short the game is. With the many arcade games coming out these days, providing many hours of gameplay for just $10-$15, it doesn’t look to good when this game charges you $15 for 4 hours of gameplay. That said, it is a great game that will be surely enjoyed by many, especially Metroid fans.