Game: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Available On: XBLA (Review), PC
Genre: Action Adventure
I’ve ran into a brick wall for my video games. I am currently trying to get through WAY more games than I can chew. I’m playing Dark Souls, Resident Evil Raccoon City, Little Big Planet and Amnesia: The Dark Descent all at the same time. That’s just way too many games to be trying to play at one time. Normally I focus all of my attention on one video game and then I beat it and then I move on to another. The problem with this is that I’ll be playing Little Big Planet and then the transition back into Dark Souls is absolutely soul crushing. An even bigger problem is that I run out of bigger releases to review and I have to go into a backlog of completed games. I’m sure you can see this from the Zero Lives Left of the last couple weeks.
Of course, none of this is a bad thing because a review is a review no matter the age of the game being reviewed. The game in question today is Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet a BEAUTIFUL game released on the Xbox Live Arcade. Henceforth the game will be known as ITSP in order to avoid further giving my fingers a reason to have carpal tunnel syndrome. Seriously, video games all day and writing all night? Can’t be good for the fingers.
Enough babble, let’s get to the review, shall we?
ITSP is, upon first glance, gorgeous. I am a visual gamer, not in the sense that I want my graphics to look amazing, but rather I always love a game with outstanding art direction. ITSP falls right in perfectly with the triforce of great looking arcade games alongside Outland and LIMBO. I’ll admit that part of the reason I was so adamant in purchasing ITSP was the art direction of the game, it was actually the biggest reason for my purchase. Playing the game the visuals never disappointed, and every area of the game had its own distinct style and atmosphere. This makes the game fun to explore and, as I’ll touch on later, exploration is a very important part of this game.
ITSP puts you in the place of a small alien spaceship that is exploring a planet that, if I recall correctly, is a threat or actually destroyed your own home planet. You’re tasked with entering this planet and searching deeper and deeper until you can find the big kahuna of the planet and end them once and for all. The game plays in a Metroidvania sort of way where the world is free to explore and as you unlock more upgrades and tools for your spaceship you unlock more areas of the map. The upgrades you get are all different and range from a circular saw attachment, to an electric pulse, to user controlled missiles. These allow the gameplay and combat to remain fresh throughout, although it begins to feel a bit tired towards the end.
The game plays smoothly and you’ll always feel like you’re in control of your little spaceship. Every time you die it’s due to user-error and not input-error, which is great because then if you suck it’s all your fault. The variety in the enemies is nice and they are all certainly fantastical given you’re on an alien planet. The puzzles and challenges that the game throws you are diverse and, occasionally, moderately difficult. The boss fights start out fun and are a decent challenge but later on you can begin to feel that the second half of the game was rushed. I’m excited for the time I play a game where the second half doesn’t feel like a rush job compared to the beginning. I mean, even Bioshock suffers from this. It’s more forgivable for arcade games, but that’s because usually the whole package, as in ITSP, hits very strong.
The biggest factor of the game that makes it incredibly replay-able is the multiplayer section. Once you explore the entire map and find all the items there isn’t much too it, but get three of your friends with you to play the multiplayer and you’ll be having the greatest time in video gaming in your recent memory. That’s pretty much a guarantee. The whole thing revolves around two to four players escorting fragile lanterns through a series of challenge rooms until either they or all their lanterns are destroyed. The real problem is that you’re being chased by some sort of Lovecraftian nightmare spawn that is literally more terrifying than words can describe. The feeling of trying to break through the wall to escape him with your life as he inches closer and closers is incomparable. Me and my friends would actually be yelling at the screen in panic in moments like this. That’s four early twenty males panicking because of a video game, that doesn’t happen often.
All this is why it doesn’t hurt to review games that you played ages ago. I’m hoping that somebody reads this and decides to go check out the trial, get hooked and then play through the whole game. It’s worth it. Yes, it’s slightly shorter than it should be, but the ride that the game takes you on is a fun one. I’ll highly recommend Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet to anybody who loves gaming. If you’re a fan of old school 2D exploration heavy games like Super Metroid then this one is also a no-brainer. The multiplayer itself is so worth it that I would play an entire game based just around that concept. Now that I think about it there’s some DLC for this game I haven’t played… maybe I should go download that and dive back into this excellent game. As always, if you have this and want to try the multiplayer Lantern Run with me, hit me up on Xbox Live, my Gamertag is KingCauti and I like video games.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet: 8/10