Games To Beat In A Day – Shadow Complex

by Ben Reeves on Sep 01, 2014 at 08:00 AM

Today, the Game Informer staff explores a series of games that you can beat in a day. Personally, I rarely beat short games in one sitting – often preferring to break them up into multiple playthroughs. I played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in three days, and split Shovel Knight into several 30 minute play sessions. It's not that I don't like short games; I just like stretching out the experience if I enjoy it. This was not the case with Shadow Complex; as soon as that game got it hooks in me, I knew I had to see it to completion that night.

The game follows an everyman named Jason Flemming who follows his girlfriend out to the forest for a day hike, only to get caught up in the machinations of a mysterious organization, which has built a massive underground complex in the side of a mountain. The game’s events run parallel to Orson Scott Card novel Empire, and the script was penned by comic book luminary Peter David. However, I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the game’s story, because Shadow Complex’s main draw is actually it’s Metroid-inspired gameplay.

As Jason explores this massive underground complex, he comes across a series of upgrades and armor augments. Simple items such as a flashlight and climbing gear help you navigate these underground caves, but later in the game, you find high-tech gear that allows you to double jump, run super fast, and project an energy shield. While Jason starts the game looking a bit like Nathan Drake (interestingly, both Jason and Drake were voiced by Nolan North), by the end of your time with him, he looks like a space marine who could go toe-to-toe with Boba Fett. The game moves fast, and you can probably polish it off in about six hours, but those six hours are a powerful rush of upgrades and accomplishment.

I'm a sucker for any game that apes Metroid's classic 2D explore-and-acquire gameplay. Fortunately, in recent years, titles like Guacamelee, Cave Story, Outland, and Ori and the Blind Forest have sought to iterate on that classic formula. However, when Shadow Complex came out in 2009, there weren't nearly as many game's – outside of Castlevania – that paid homage to Nintendo's sci-fi classic. Not only did Chair do an excellent job creating a title inspired by a game it loved, but they created an instant classic that will likely hold up almost as long as the series it emulates.

To read more about games you can beat in a day, check back at our hub over the course of the day.