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Enjoy your lockdown inside The Complex

Posted by warreni, in game review 04 April 2020 · 2463 views

fmv adventure female protagonist

You've probably heard of or played Late Shift. It's been in the Game Pass for XBONE and it's been out for a few years now. It's the story of an ordinary bloke (I have to pull out my Briticisms for this review, so my fellow colonists will have to pardon me) who gets caught up in a botched jewelry heist at an auction. It's also one of the breakout games from Wales Interactive.


Wales Interactive has created something of a niche for itself in a similar way to Telltale Games. Telltale started out doing conventional adventures, poker games, and other things before taking a hard right into interactive storytelling adventure games with a few QTEs thrown in to ensure that you hadn't fallen asleep at the keyboard. At a certain point in its history, when you were looking at a Telltale game, you had a pretty good idea what to expect from it, and you knew that it was either the sort of thing you like or it wasn't. Wales Interactive is in a fairly similar position now, having cut its teeth on a variety of shooter or survival horror-type games, and making a bigger splash (from my humble analysis) with a series of full-motion video games with branching storylines reacting to the choices the "player" makes. Many people complained in Telltale's heyday that its games weren't really games, because, QTEs aside, the player spent most of his time watching the story unfold while occasionally selecting a character's action or bit of dialogue. My feeling has always been that I was playing the games for the stories and characters anyway, so it never bothered me.


Well, WI games are even less game-y than Telltale's. They're pretty much just movies in which you select occasional character choices of action or speech. Sometimes that's exactly what I want from a game--something that requires me to focus my attention on it, but doesn't really require any physical investment on my part. Usually it means I'm feeling like a particularly lazy SOB at that time.


I fired up The Complex a few days ago, as I was in that sort of mood and I'd actually pre-ordered it last weekend on XBONE. It's also available on PS4 and Steam (and probably that Nintendo doo-dad too). I completed one playthrough that took about 90 minutes, and I enjoyed it. I often debate whether I want to replay games of this sort, because they lose a bit of their luster once you know the gist of the story. However, it was roughly the cost of a movie ticket (depending on your market--less than $12) to purchase the game, so I figured even if I only got one playthrough out of it, it was probably worthwhile. And it was. The story revolves around biomedical researcher Dr. Amy Tenant and her erstwhile partner Dr. Rees Wakefield getting stuck in a secret underground laboratory at (wait for it) The Complex, her partner's biotech firm, while terrorists are trying to break in and steal the new nanocell treatment that she has created with an eye toward curing many diseases. The acting is good and the story is compelling. Also, the effects, music, and sound design are all well-done for what is essentially an indie film. With the exception of the rare bits of actual biology in the movie, it's all quite well-done. When your game is complete, the game will score you on your relationships with other characters and rate your protagonist's personality based on your actions and dialog choices.


(If there's one thing that bothered me about the game, it was the writer's choice to name one of the main characters "Wakefield," a name I have come to associate with a special kind of British dirtbag named Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who is a large part of the reason that the world is having to deal with anti-vaxxer nonsense. It's probably just me, but it bugged me.)


The Complex represents neither a serious investment of time nor money, but I enjoyed it for what it was. If it is your kind of thing, it's worth the ride. If you don't enjoy this sort of "interactive-movie" malarkey, and you know who you are, you should obviously pass on it.

Yeah, feel about the same way. I enjoyed Late Shift enough, will likely pick this up as soon as I see it on sale, or play it as soon as it's on gamepass. 


This genre fulfills some weird need I have to play Laser Disc games but much much more relaxing.  

December 2022

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