Snap Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

When I first heard of the game Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, I thought it had the most awesome title ever.  This game was released on XBL as one of their Summer of Arcade games, being the third in the series.  I was impressed when I first saw a trailer for it by the game’s simplistic yet striking art design & its Metroid-esque emphasis on exploration.

I only played the demo version of the game, so I can’t give a complete synopsis of the plot.  However, I can tell you that the game begins with the aforementioned insanely twisted shadow planet arriving at the player’s home planet & promptly taking it over, spreading its twisted shadows over it.  The “player” is actually a small spaceship.

The game places a huge emphasis on exploration & backtracking.  Throughout the course of the game you’ll discover new weapons & tools to allow you access to previously inaccessible areas.  Tools can be easily cycled through by assigning them to the four main buttons.  Some of the tools I encountered in the trial were some type of scanner, a mechanical arm & a laser gun.  But judging by the size of the select screen there are many more tools.

The graphics are truly the best part of the game.  As you’d expect, most of the landscape is dark, full of twisting tunnels & protruding obstacles.  But in the background, you can see the detail of the world, & it’s actually rather colorful, a nice contrast to dark foreground.  The spaceship really stands out.  Although it’s black as well, it appears in 3D, thanks to the shine of the body.  This makes it really stand out from the rest of the screen.  You’re also very small in comparison to the rest of the world.  I expect this means some large & challenging boss fights.

Why this game isn’t for me: I lack the coordination for it.  The left thumbstick controls your movement while the right controls the direction of your current tool.  This takes some getting used to.  You can’t really sit still in this world, because there’s almost always something after you.  So you’ll often find yourself moving the thumbsticks in opposite directions.  I’m sure with practice I could’ve gotten used to the scheme.  Plus, I don’t really enjoy backtracking.

Who this game is for: Anyone who enjoyed the original Metroid or Castlevania games.  If you like exploring & trying to figure out how to reach the next area, you’ll enjoy this game.  The demo was fun, so I assume most people who have the coordination to play it will enjoy it (can you pat your head & rub your stomach at the same time?).  It’s fun, artsy & unique.

Title: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Console: XBLA
Rating: E
Cost: 1200 MP
Developer: Shadow Planet Productions
Release Date: August 3, 2011
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Filed under Snap Reviews, XBox Live

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