Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

11:00 AM on 08.01.2011 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

If games were rated on name value alone, then Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet could be a game of the year contender. It's the kind of name guaranteed to get attention, and one that promises a unique, interesting, entertaining experience. 

Unfortunately, the risk of having an awesome name is that you need to work extra hard to make sure it's lived up to. Whether Insanely Twisted does that or not is up for debate.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (Xbox 360)
Developer: Shadow Planet Productions
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Released: August 3, 2011
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is all about tackling a planet full of insanely twisted shadows as a plucky little UFO with controls that mimic a traditional arcade shooter. This shooter sensibility, however, is married to exploratory gameplay that has been quite rightly compared to the likes of Metroid and latter-day Castlevania. There is a single world map and players must gain access to new equipment in order to unlock new areas and explore the entire world. 

Over the course of the game, Insanely Twisted's "B-movie" flavored spacecraft will uncover such power-ups as a grasping claw to grab at objects, a circular saw that can burrow tunnels through rubble, and a magnet that picks up otherwise inaccessible items. Just like with all "Metroidvania" games, there is a rewarding satisfaction in gaining a new item and backtracking to find previously unreachable areas. These areas usually contain extra upgrades, such as higher damage tolerance or a stronger projectile for the ship's ray gun. Concept art and fragments of visual backstory scenes are also dotted around the game.

Insanely Twisted puts a significant focus on puzzle solving, as most areas inflict some sort of brainteaser on the player. Such puzzles include remotely controlling rockets through a maze in order to hit switches or using crystals to deflect laser beams into blocks of ice. The further the game goes, the more involved the puzzles get, although none of them are taxing enough to ever keep the moderately intelligent completely stumped. 

This preference for puzzling over combat is carried over into the game's best moments -- the boss battles. At the end of each map area, an oversized creature will make its appearance. These bosses are fought with logic rather than violence, and usually require the use of whatever new upgrade was found in the area. Again, these battles aren't too challenging, but the logic required to beat them is often so clever that it can be forgiven. 

For those with a desire to fight, there is most definitely some combat, although it is by far the weakest aspect of the gameplay. While a number of upgrades can be used in battle, the defacto weapon is a rather weak energy projectile that, even when upgraded, is so weak and unwieldy that it barely hits anything. This is made doubly irritating by the fact that the enemies are almost always erratic in their movements and like to come at the player with sudden bursts of movement. Due to an overabundance of health items and frequent spawn points, no battle is really difficult -- but almost every one feels like an unwanted hassle due to the speed and unpredictability of enemies and the UFO's inefficient arsenal of weaponry. 

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet has all the basics in place for a decent game -- it's got a neat exploratory aspect to it, the puzzles are simple but satisfying, and there are some really cool bosses. However, the game never goes beyond those basics and doesn't seem to strive for anything above simple decency. Despite the Metroidvania comparisons, there isn't much exploration as each area is quite linear and there are only a few opportunities to backtrack and find new secrets -- opportunities which dwindle rapidly over the course of the game, as if the level designers just gave up. 

The main problem with the game is that it never goes far enough in any one direction to truly make an impression. It's not deep enough to be a worthy Metroidvania, it's not mentally taxing enough to be a puzzle game, and it's not balanced or intense enough to be a shooter. It makes half-hearted attempts to spread in all three directions, and does nothing to excel in any one of them. It's worth noting that the game is also very short, and can be easily completed in an afternoon with time to spare. It took me two moderate play sessions to complete the game with 95% of the map explored. 

Despite the odd flashes of brilliant design, I can't say I found anything truly compelling in the experience, due to the shallow nature of the experience and its languid pace. For a game that doesn't last very long, a lot of time is wasted on the egregious backtracking and sluggish UFO movement, and in spite of the exploration aspect of the game, maps are designed in a rather straightforward, linear fashion, with shortcuts in limited supply. 

So much of the game feels simply like one is going through the motions rather than getting engrossed in the gameplay. Its lack of complexity, poor pacing, and tedious map design leads to a game that is solid overall, but undeniably tepid throughout. 

As well as the main game, there's a little extra longevity in the "Lantern Run" mode. Up to four players have use the grabbing upgrade to race through a level as quickly as possible, while being chased by tentacles. It's a decent little co-op mode, but nothing worth keeping players invested for too long.

It has to be said that the game gets credit for a wonderful visual aesthetic, which presents much of its scenery and many opponents as silhouettes with splashes of strong, bold colors to keep things interesting. It's an appealing style that sometimes threatens to make the game look more fascinating than it actually is. Each area of the map has its own distinct color scheme, with a bright background offsetting the dark shadows of the foreground. It shares many aesthetic traits with Patapon, and it makes for a visual treat on the big screen. 

Sadly, great visuals do not a great game make. Nor does gameplay that spends most of its timing striving only for a passing grade. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet scores points for its moments of genuine cleverness and tight, logical design, but the majority of the experience is a lukewarm and superficial one. It tries to merge three types of gameplay together, and while the intention is admirable, the effort made is far from total.

It would have been better for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet to pick one specialty and go the distance, rather than attempt to run in multiple directions at once and make very little ground at all. 



THE VERDICT

6

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Music Notes: "Tied Down" by Forever Still

Desert Golfing - The Model Mobile Game

Review: Pony Island

The meaning of The Witness (Part 1 of 3)

Do you even Bebop?

Cblogs of 02/04/16 + Bayonetta and some other one I suppose

Waifu Wars: Your Cruel Device, Your Blood Like Ice..

Best Kickstarter implosion EVER as dev money is spent on booze and strippers

Video Gaming Bits -- Dungeons& Dragons: Tower of Doom

Is Planet Earth more than Blue, such as An?

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
The good news: XCOM 2 is installed on my pc. The bad news: It runs about as well as a fat kid on ice.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Get your Devil's Third, here! Hot, fresh Devil's third! [url]http://www.gamestop.com/wii-u/games/devils-third/118963[/url]
EAPidgeon avatarEAPidgeon
Glad I can support the site again with HUGE since my life is mostly back in order. Curious though if anyone knows what happened to the Merch Shop for the site.
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
Give me an open-world game and I'll find a way to mistreat children and the elderly.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
What do you think guys? Text or no text?
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I'm dying of laughter, these are too good XD super Zangeif OP
Parismio avatarParismio
How dare they price her so low...
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Fire Emblem Fates special edition is confirmed to have all three versions on one cartridge, so you DO get Revelation early.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Frinkiac.com: Search Simpsons quotes, get the image from the episode where the quote is from and easily make a meme.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I ended up buying Yakuza 3 on Amazon and nabbing Gravity Rush Remastered on the PS Store. Both have trophies so I'm pretty hyped to play em.
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Just finished a blog just in time for the 25th Anniversary of Street Fighter II, which is in a few minutes...
Parismio avatarParismio
Jesus Pacland in smash looks like something someone made in MSPaint. I love it.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Looks like Nintendo was selling a North America exclusive 3DS cover plate. At least, I've never seen this particular one before. It's out of stock now, though.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
So Helldivers is pretty fucking great.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since I thanked Niero and Paladin on the site update article, might as we thank the rest of you staff, contributors, mods, volunteers, tippers, former workers, commenters, bloggers, quickshitposters, lurkers, trol-nevermind them, anyway XCOM2 calls!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I've got an even better picture! I'll post it in the comments.
Steel Squirrel avatarSteel Squirrel
I just have to post this pic because it's one of the best things ever. Gotta post it in the comments though.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Hits Save in blog editor.Your post currently has a publish date of 2016-01-23 11:44 PM.
Samsneeze avatarSamsneeze
Maurice White, Earth, Wind and Fire founder died yesterday and 2016 continues to make it clear that it gives no shits about your favorite musicians and people.
Jinx 01 avatarJinx 01
I have a bunch of unfinished blogs from the last two years when I had too much anxiety to finish them. So expect a bunch of probably outdated blogs from me soon ;p
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -