Game: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Genre: Action Adventure Shooter
System: Xbox 360
Review by: MrB4
Have you ever had one of those moments in your life where a friend asks you “what games have you been playing lately?” and after you answer him he asks “so what kind of a game is it?” and you just can’t figure out a way to explain it to that person?, well that’s how I felt after playing Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet for the Xbox Live Arcade. To be totally honest with you, it’s alot of things, a shooter, a puzzler, an exploration through a maze, etc. Actually pinpointing the experience to just one genre in particular almost takes away what makes this game so special in the first place. Welcome to a world where nothing is as it seems, and that is a good thing.
Graphics: Simple in design, yet beautiful in execution is the best way to describe the overall graphics of ITSP. Each new level works off an element like fire, ice, water, etc. and the way the developers pulled off how to incorporate all of this into one world without it being overwhelming is amazing. The ship itself isn’t anything special, but its animations are as lively as ever, and the same goes for the different enemy types too. Quite possibly the best thing about the style of this game is how it really draws the player into this giant world, and I can’t even explain it more than that, you have to see it for yourself.
Gameplay: This is going to be hard to explain, but here goes nothing. What we have here is a spaceship shooter game that relies more on exploration and discovery than actual destruction. Trying to find a way out of each level becomes the primary objective, and thankfully there are a number of tools that can help make this task a little easier to perform. At first, it may be something as simple as removing rocks from a wall, or feeding an enemy an object to open up an area, but eventually you will find yourself having to use the laws of gravity, reflection, and even tunneling a missile through a maze, which is an insane test of reflexes, to solve some of the more trickier stages later in the game.
Performing each of these actions isn’t that hard to do, especially considering the fact that the developers have set it up in a way where you can map each of the tools you want to a specific button so that quick actions can be performed when things get too hot to handle. This is extremely helpful because trying to scroll through a menu sometimes just can’t happen, so being able to just simply switch over to what I want, and use it on the spot makes things much easier. Aside from that, the rest of the control setup for shooting and flying is very easy to understand. The boss fights themselves were indeed challenging, and included some of the puzzle elements I explained earlier, but I’m pretty sure anyone with common sense could figure them out in a heartbeat. There was a survival multiplayer mode included also, which was fun to play, but it felt more like a last minute addition to give the game more appeal to a wider audience than anything else.
Sound: Dark, moody, and sets the right tone for every situation the player becomes involved in. Sound effects are nice, especially for all of the diffferent gadgets the ship has, all of the bleep and blips are a delight to listen to. Explosions were so good that they came off a little bit intimidating at times, which will definitely sit right for those gamers who are looking for something to do with their surround sound headsets.
Wishes or Changes: I do wish that the developers allowed you to play through the campaign with friends (survival mode is cool, but it leaves me wanting more), and also having an arrow pointing you in the right direction during gameplay (instead of having to go to a menu to do it) would have been extremely helpful as well. Aside from those two things, there is really nothing else that I would change about it because most things worked out for me just fine.
TQ Bottom Line: Let’s get this out onto the table right now, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a game that will push you to the point of frustration, but still gives you just enough to make the entire experience worthwhile. There is so much to do, and so many different extras and upgrades to unlock that more than one playthrough becomes a necessity. Think of this as more of an exploration style adventure game than a shooter, almost like Metroid in a way, and if that suits you, then you will be pleased with this one.
Final Score: 4 out of 5 Michelas!
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Developer: Fuelcell Games/ Gagne International
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
MSRP: 1200 MS Points ($14.99)