Undertow developer Chair Entertainment has been hard at work on video games based on Orson Scott Card's Empire novel, the first of which is likely to be the recently trademarked Shadow Complex.
Sources claiming to have already played that game told us about their experience with the title, a side-scrolling shooter likened to classics Super Metroid and Mega Man X, a mash up of genres that's a 2.5D platformer. Card has said in the past that the game will focus on the Battle Room simulations that test tactical aptitude and be high on replayability.
Shadow Complex is also said to feature a unique twist on the Metroid-formula. It will feature familiar weapon and ability upgrades, including a jet pack for double jumps, a climbing kit for wall slides and a Bionic Commando style hookshot, but it's also a little deeper than the games it's been compared to.
According to what we were told by folks who had played the game, Shadow Complex takes advantage of the third dimension by offering interactive backgrounds. Players are said to be able to shoot into those backgrounds with the aide of a laser sight—controlled with the right thumbstick—to fend off enemies in a fashion described to Kotaku as a blend of Contra's side-scrolling and hallway style levels.
That mechanic was touted as an interesting addition to stock 2D shooter gameplay, but also lamented for its occasional awkwardness.
Shadow Complex sounds like it will follow the Metroid formula in offering new weapons, new areas to unlock and a progression that takes the main player from lowly combatant to super soldier.
We were told to expect more storytelling than your average 2D side-scroller, with cut scenes explaining why Battle Room combatants enter the titular complex on a rescue mission. Expect a sci-fi twist that fans of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game may already be familiar with to justify why you're there and what you're doing.
What we were told certainly jives with tidbits that Chair Entertainment and Orson Scott Card have dropped since the announcement that the two parties would be working together. We wouldn't be surprised to see Shadow Complex announced at E3 as an Xbox Live Arcade downloadable game, but we're still calling this all rumor for now.
Update: Looks like we got everything but the book the game is based on right. That has been corrected to Orson Scott Card's Empire, instead of his Ender's Game series.