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Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet Review

While games are adept at providing pulse-quickening thrills or poignant plotlines, one of the most salient sensations can be the feeling of discovery. From uncovering the ability of your boomerang to capture unreachable coins in The Legend of Zelda to determining the attack patterns of Fygars and Pookas in Dig Dug, discerning a game’s mysteries is often a memorable experience. Although recent release Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet uses ‘Metroidvania‘ exploration at its broad template, the gratification of unearthing the title’s fascinating nuances help deliver one of the more satisfying experiences of the summer.

Using a storytelling approach which forgoes text, dialog, names, and often music, Shadow Planet‘s avoids typical storytelling methods. Instead, the game’s succinct plot in conveyed through the infrequent cinematic and  experimentation . It’s an inspired design decision which tasks players with classifying each new object they come across. Since nearly everything looks prickly and foreboding, the traditional  tropes of light/soft objects being harmless are thrown out. On Shadow Planet, dark,  thorny vines prove harmless, while tiny, innocuous alien guppies prove lethal- supplying a sense of gentle uneasiness throughout the player’s five-hour journey.

Likewise, players are given a robust set of tools to navigate the exotic landscapes. The first instrument you’ll encounter is a handy item which allows players to scan enemies and certain areas (ala Metroid Prime), allowing for an option, unobtrusive help system. Later, gamers will unearth upgradable blasters, a telescopic arm, a shield, buzzsaw and even a reflective laser, which can be activated with the right stick or assigned at hotkeys to the 360 controller’s face buttons. While the majority of Insanely Twisted‘s toolset lends itself to a wonderfully rewarding experience, two blemishes exist. While puzzles invite players to utilize items in creative ways, there’s some redundancy to the conundrums; once you figured out how to bypass a particular obstacle, additional instances of the same riddle aren’t as rewarding. Secondly, the title’s shield is woefully underutilized.

These small faults aside, controlling the title’s flying saucer feels faultless, with the game’s camera impeccably framing the action. Elegantly, the developers applied just enough momentum and mass to the ship, insuring that moving your craft doesn’t feel like manipulating a cursor. Thankfully, with an easily accessed map and a waypoint indicator on your toolset HUD, navigation through the labyrinthine selection of caverns, submarine grottos, and windswept tunnels is effortless as well. While 2D Castlevania and Metroid games typically prohibit passage to new areas until some unknown tool is acquired, Shadow Planet’s map screen can articulate which items are needed, avoiding frustration. Of course for experience players, the title’s candor and lack of well-concealed stashes can sully the sensation of exploration.

For players yearning for a challenge, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet’s Lantern Run presents an appealing survival mode for up to four local or online participant. Each player transports an enormous lamp through a procedurally generated, side scrolling cavern as a giant tentacle beast threatens to extinguish the team’s lighting. While the variation won’t offer much to solo gamers, groups should enjoy this interesting offshoot.

Although Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet‘s foray unto a shadowy and unwelcoming planet is woefully terse, the title surrenders a rewarding journey brimming with a sense of discovery. In an age where most  gamers are accustomed with the familiar, that makes Shadow Planet‘s voyage worth its fifteen dollar admission price.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Deagle, youre slipping on your review a day progress!

    Still, after reading this I guess I need to D/l it. A game about a UFO didn’t interest me at first.

  2. Another entry into MS Summer of Inflation line, where $10 games are marked up to $15.

    • $15 for a five hour game seems fair to me. I used to pay 25 cent in the 90’s to play an arcade game for 5 minutes. That’s about the same price 20 years later.

  3. HighJumpingJesus

    You didn’t think the bosses were kind of a disappointment. I mean their patterns were way too easy to figure out, like the dumbed it all down.

    Otherwise, I mostly liked it.

    BTW- For $15, I played for 5 hours. A lot of $60 games offer that kind of time.

  4. So the sperm can kill you?

    I thought it just made life.

    • Edward Penishands

      Now they steal life, tissue and vasoline away.

      Good review, but I think I’ll still buy Bastion once someone gets me some MS points.

  5. Shadow Complex gave me a little of the feeling of discovery, even those it was Metroidvania-ish.

    Deagle, what games did it for you?

  6. transcendentalist

    good review. I’m curious- what were you’re thoughts on From Dust?

  7. If it’s like Castlevania and Metroid, how can you get a feeling of discovery? I’ve played those games to death already.

  8. Great review, Deagle. For some reason, I just thought this was getting good reviews because of indie cred. I played the demo and got hooked by it.

    • Really I played the demo and didn’t think it was anything great. Still, better than From Dust.

  9. Michel Gagne is the man. I bought this day one and love the look and animation of the game. I’d gladly pay $15 for more games he’s had a hand in.

  10. Roscoe Pepperspray

    Damn, I see Tech-Gaming is in the N4G big leagues. Congrats, guys.

  11. Download the half gig demo right now. Sounds like I might like it.

  12. Good point about how everything looks kind of sinister. When I was playing for the first time I thought the same.

  13. One question- aren’t you supposed to get the Maw when you buy a Summer of Arcade title? How is this delivered?

  14. It’s almost funny that D-toid 6.0ed it. Almost.

  15. It would be cool to see this on PS3. This summer, PS3 releases have been lacking.

  16. I got to admit, I bought this after your (and others) glowing review and I found this game to be a bit of a bore. It’s just too slowly paced for me.