Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet Review
You Like Shadows? You Like Planets? How About Insanely Twisted Art Styles? This Game’s Got What You Need.
Platform: PC, Xbox Live Marketplace
Developer: Gange International, Fuelcell Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Welcome to the Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. A world of horrific wonders brought to life through the wonderful animation of Michel Gagné. Michel who may be most well known for his work alongside Don Bluth and Pixar Studios, has decided to take his first foray into the field of video games and boy does he do so in style. There is no getting around the slick cartoon like animation that is so very present in Shadow Planet and as such I wanted to get all of the praise for the brilliant art style out of the way quickly.
Yes, the slick animation helps to set the tone of the game and the creature designs are second to none but the true praise I have for this game goes far deeper than the readily present surface level beauty. You see Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is one of the rarities on the Xbox Live Arcade marketplace that succeeds in all areas rather than just being a showcase for Michel’s wonderful animation. The Metroidvania style gameplay delivers a well-paced, well-polished experience that is worth the entry price despite the brevity of the overall game.
Sure the experience is only a few hours long but the whole package is one seamless ball of fun, which never stagnates. Mission structures are short but still intricate, allowing the player to feel a nearly constant state of progression. This is because Shadow Planet boils down to a short but sweet feedback loop, revolving around exploration and puzzle solving for the sake of progress. You quickly find that the developers really go out of their way to keep every section of the game feeling unique and fresh in it’s own way.
This is achieved not just through art style but also by way of enemy variation and challenging the player to think tactically about his or her surroundings. Even the boss fights of this game are outside of what one would normally expect from a Metroidvania type game. Developers often opt to use the various environments against the player rather than direct conflict with an enemy, which once again offers a change of pace from the norm.
There is no doubt that the lack of central storyline will certainly be a bit of a turn off to many fans and to them I say this: I honestly believe that an in-depth plotline would have hindered the game’s ability to inject fun directly into my brain. Yes, Michel Gangé has done some amazing previous work on story telling masterpieces such as The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go To Heaven but to ask for something so unnecessary to this project is just silly. So just sit back and enjoy wonderfully crafted art style while you cruise through this world unknown.
In order to supplement the short campaign the developers have also included a mode simply dubbed “The Lantern Run”. This is a multiplayer mode which has you teaming up with up to four other players in an attempt to carry your “Lanterns” as far as you can through a creepy labyrinth within the shadow planet. This is of course made much more difficult by the giant shadow monster that is ever closing in on you from behind. Allow the monsters darkness to extinguish your lanterns and your run will come to an end. Trust me when I tell you, the achievements tied to this mode are at times infuriating due to the inherent difficulty of the task.
All in all, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a cavalcade of pure fun that pours directly into your eyes sockets through Michel Gangé’s artistic take on alien life. Mr. Gangé and Fuelcell Games have constructed a well-conceived universe of both whimsy and treachery that is an absolute joy to behold. If you haven’t had the chance to experience this particular gem yet, I would most certainly urge you to do so when afforded the chance.
American gamer who loves Action RPG's, skateboarding and MMA but geekery is my life.
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