Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet has been around for a while now, but that’s not to say we can’t review it. Some things take time, think about the first time you heard ‘In Rainbows’ by Radiohead, or drank beer.
Going for the minimalist approach to a game can yield great results. No overly confusing plot points or a mountain of options to customise your character. The simplest method is always the best. And Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet pulls this off very well.
It’s set on a mysterious planet that’s completely covered in shadow, and you play as a tiny alien piloting a small spaceship, who must explore the said planet. That’s pretty much it. With a game like this, that’s all you really need. To find out the backstory of the planet you collect Ancient Artifacts, which unlock cut scenes showing how the planet became so dark.
The scenes have no dialogue, but the imagery and music more than make up for it, It allows you to think about it for yourself, letting you figure out what happened, rather than lay it all on a plate.
ITSP plays out like the old Metroid games; exploring a huge open map, solving puzzles and fighting huge bosses to advance to the next area. Your puzzle solving arsenal include a scanner (to display how a particular object can be interacted with), a claw (to carry said object), and even a laser (to blast the object back from whence it came).
The game doesn’t give you any hints towards solving the obstacles; just what can be used to interact with it. For example, there may be a long stone on a pivot, with smaller boulders nearby. There won’t be anything to tell you that you can weigh down one side like a seesaw; just that the boulders can be picked up and carried. This means you start thinking laterally, instead of following what the game tells you to do.
Graphically, it’s all very smooth and atmospheric. There isn’t much in the way of colour, as everything is covered in darkness. That’s not to say it’s hard to make anything out, as all the silhouettes are well defined and very sinister looking. You start to imagine what they’d look like without the shadow, which gives the game a great sense of mystery and intrigue.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game. It’s got a great pick up and play feel to it, has a lot of character despite the lack of light, and doesn’t assume its audience are dumb and need help with every little detail.
You’d be insane not to try it. (sorry, bad joke!)
Published by: Shadow Planet Productions (Fuelcell Games/Gagne International)
Developed by: Shadow Planet Productions (Fuelcell Games/Gagne International)
Rating: suitable for all.
Available On: Xbox Live Arcade