More than just another case of Metroidvania?
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a game with little to no story; you play as a spaceship flying around a world made up of different areas like ice, mechanical, and so on. The game borrows heavily from Metroid with its backtracking and hidden items, not to mention boss battles that are very tough. But is it enough for the 1200 Microsoft Points price tag?
If there’s one major problem with Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, it’s that it’s far too short. It’s over after a few hours and considering the price, you’d expect it to be a pretty long game. It feels like there should be a bigger game hidden away and we’re only getting a teaser, but alas this is the full game. That aside, what is there is gaming gold even if it isn’t original in the slightest. As you progress, you’ll get upgrades for your ship that will let you access new areas and old ones via backtracking, while making enemies easier to kill. You don’t get much health or any indication of how much is left, but you can regain energy from yellow orbs that appear from killing enemies or sometimes they are just floating around.
The upgrades are great, but some are only used a handful of times and it makes me wonder what the point in including them was. There are artifacts, upgrades and concept art items to find all over the planet and some of them are pretty obscure to find, but most of them just require you to backtrack to a past area to find the item. There is a high difficulty level to be found and the game isn’t without its glitches, especially with light puzzles in the Ice area. Essentially you pick up crystals that slot into place to reflect light to another crystal and so on, but sometimes the crystals will refuse to lock into place, meaning you’ll have to restart the game to try again. I’m surprised such a big glitch got through to the final code, but I’m sure it will be fixed in a patch.
After completing the game and getting all the collectables, you can try your hand at Lantern Run which is a multiplayer mode where you and 3 other players (online and local) have to outrun a pursuing enemy while getting items. It’s not easy by any means and it will require co-operation to succeed. It’s a nice addition, but I wonder what the DLC will be. The game has a nice visual style, but the framerate can drop in areas with a lot of action. There is a lot of creativity with the enemy and level design, I just wish there was more of it. The soundtrack is decent, while the sound effects are average.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is well…insane. It’s great fun, despite borrowing heavily from Metroid and being very short. The areas are well varied and the bosses are memorable, I hope that the team makes a sequel that is a lot longer because this feels like a starter and not the main course.