I’ve been meaning to mention this for a while now. I’m stupidly busy with a lot of “real life” stuff at the moment, but this is the perfect time to offer a miniature review on this Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet game.
In a nutshell? It’s a “Twin Stick Metroidvania” game with a nice sense of style.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet places you in control of a plucky little UFO with a variety of tools and weapons, and tasks you with saving your home planet from star-eating shadow play monsters. You drive with one analog stick, and aim your weapon/tool with the other, pitting your toolset against a massive alien invasion.
-Classic “Metroidvania” game design involving exploring a large map that opens up as you take tools and weapons from boss monsters and use them to interact with the world. You grow in power and utility as you learn to interact with and explore the world. This is really the heart of the game, and there are enough different tools, ways to use them and things to use them on to carry the gameplay through several hours of fun experimentation and exploration.
-Instruction comes via icons and demonstration, which cuts down on mistranslations and keeps the learning curve fairly simple.
-The visuals are a curious mix of flat shapes and color gradients, simple and clean. The art design and animation are excellent, and help to sell the alien nature of the game. This ethos is vaguely reminiscent of World of Goo, another game standing as a testament to the strength of good 2D art presentation.
-Boss Monster hunting strategies tend to be more about execution than deciphering the gimmick. This is usually good, but sometimes it would be nice if it were the other way around.
The Not So Good:
-Steering missiles can be tricky and frustrating… but that can also mean that it’s satisfying if you get the hang of it.
-The simplified instructions aren’t always clear, and it will take some tinkering to figure some things out. This isn’t always bad, but it can be frustrating if you get stuck.
-The underwater area requires a bit too much retracing of your path as currents push you around and block off channels. Choosing a different fork in the road means looping back to the start of the path instead of just backing up to the fork.
-Some boss fights are a bit demanding or unclear, but some players like this as a skill test.
-No difficulty settings.
Now, to be fair, I played it on the XBox 360, and the controls were tight and easy to use. I’m not sure how it works without a console controller, but the game design is still solid. I still recommend it as a good twist on the Metroidvania core design.