Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet XBLA Review
Written By: Master Blud
It is insanely hard to review this title, as I might accidentally spoil it for you. I had never really looked into this title that much, but had heard about it months and months ago before looking at any sort of screen shots or videos. I had later found out by a good friend of mine that it was originated from a Halloween special on Nickelodeon a few years back, called Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets, which involved a wide array of short strips of beautiful artwork designed into a show. I then remembered this Halloween special and had to cover this title. Although the only real thing I can remember from watching Nickelodeon, was Stick Stickly and that Tiki God who scared the ever-loving shit out of me.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a mash of quite a few genres, but most of all, it is considered a horizontal side-scroller with the usage of shooters. I haven’t really played a game as immersive of ITSP, though a lot of aspects of the game remind me of the subgenre called “Metroidvania”, using a lot of exploration elements to help you along. As there is really no actual story to this game, it seems to me that you are sent a strange planet to rid of what is infesting it. The cut scenes, short but sweet, basically telling the whole story without a word being said. I have to admit, I really like the way the game is going at this point, so I carry on.
The gameplay is probably the most frustrating, as it doesn’t really hold your hand. I think that if most games held your hand, you wouldn’t end up playing it again, for the fact that sometimes we do not like to be told what to do. There is a guide feature where you can inspect your surroundings to help you further along, this feature is attached to you and can be used at anytime. You gain power ups/abilities such as, a saw, missiles, shield and so on. Each of these power ups/abilities helps you clear boss areas and tricky situations. One of the most difficult I found was using a missile in a winding corridor to hit a trigger, if the missile gets hit too much on the wall, it will explode and you would have to do it all over again.
As you gain more power ups, you can use a mapping feature to your A, B, X and Y Buttons for quick access. Controlling the ship has to be the most exhausting but fun thing to do. As most of the game contains squid/octopus like creatures, it seems quite hard to maneuver in such tight situations. I found this not to be such a problem, but there is a lot of tentacles around. I can admit to you, I am petrified of this game, but it gave me such a rush, as some parts of the game will just get you going. I later became interested in the multiplayer and had forgotten it was there. The Multiplayer is labeled Lantern Run, and let me tell you something, that is one cluster of a mess. It is basically an obstacle course with a giant squid like creature chasing after you as you try to bring a lantern through tiny spaces. The lantern is clunky and doesn’t really help when trying to get through areas. The whole entire multiplayer experience reminds me of the wall in the F.E.A.R. Games.
Many games pride themselves on the quality, well this game has definitely gained that pride. I don’t want to hear anyone say, “Hey they ripped the visuals from LIMBO”. To correct you, these visuals were out long before LIMBO was even thought of. The atmosphere and visuals in this game really go hand in hand, although the game did almost give me a rage quit, it kept pulling me back with the soothing atmosphere. When you fight against a boss, you don’t know he is a boss until after the first few hits. There is the map that indicates key areas, which are usually marked as red, mostly for bosses. I love the way everything looks, from the squid-like monsters to the depths of the water, it surely makes me appreciate the artwork in ITSP. The soundtrack, well there really isn’t any, except for the cut scenes and the occasional ambience. I feel that the subtle silence in ITSP compliments the environment pretty well, also makes it so I don’t rage quit.
I am not one for these types of games, I really loved LIMBO but was scared to death while playing it. Yes I get scared pretty easy, so I get more of a thrill playing scary games probably more than you do. I hate scary movies, I hate scary things. But all set aside, I had fun playing ITSP, I still am playing it. Altogether I give Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet a 4.7 out of 5. It brings excitement and thrills to your living room. The game might not look like much, but it packs a punch.