Beautiful adventure game Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet comes to Xbox Live Arcade next week. It is a mysterious, quiet game—Dimmu Borgir music notwithstanding—that is Metroid-like, full of exploration, power ups and re-exploration, at least on the single-player side.
But there is a multiplayer side to Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet as well.
This 10-minute-long video of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet gameplay does a very good job of showcasing the single-player side of the game's atmosphere and mechanics. I played about half of that exploratory demo during a hands-on session with the Xbox 360 game at Comic-Con. It felt like a free-floating game of Metroid in which I unlocked new abilities for my flying saucer, navigating an alien world populated with indigenous threats and strange mazes.
I spent more time with the game's frantic cooperative multiplayer mode, playing alongside developers from Fuelcell Games and artist Michel Gagné. We jumped into a fresh game, three players, and set off. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet's multiplayer mode is an endless, side-scrolling race. Players are chased by a full screen-sized, multi-tentacled beast that creeps in from the left.
Our cooperative goal was to stay ahead of it and to drag three glowing lanterns with the mechanical arms that protruded from our saucers. Crumbling rock walls and deadly alien lifeforms occasionally stood in our way. We cleared boulders away with each ship's arm. We switched from the mech arm to our blasters, taking out attacking flora and fauna as the giant tentacle beast filled the screen with black. At times, we'd come to a full stop, the screen filled with freshly spawned enemies, turning Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet into a brief game of Asteroids.
Then we'd sprint forward. After a few minutes of this endless pursuit, we lost one lantern to the leviathan. Then another. Then it was just me, pulling my lantern behind me, the others shooting aliens, shooting rocks, dying, respawning until eventually the beast had overtaken us fully. It felt like a satisfying (but nerve-wracking) 2D take on a Horde-like mode, a series of every increasing challenges and waves of bad guys. It made me more excited to play Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet beyond its six to eight hour long adventure mode.
We'll be able to play Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet alone and together next week, August 3, when the game comes to Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points.