Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is your standard 2D adventure platformer with a lot of bite and a harsh organic style. You’ll traverse, submerge, and blast your way through an infected alien Sun that’s spreading its shadowy organic filth all over the rest of the solar system!
Through the twisted catacombs, lakes, voids, pipes and caves you’ll find may different changes in scenery. All are strikingly coloured and each presenting new obstacles and bosses to thwart. I love the atmosphere between environments. The style mostly boils down to layered silhouetted 2-D gears teeth and lots of spikes. Coupled with impressive visuals, that’s seriously all it needs to be to look fantastic. The spaceship itself is 3-D, which allows for some nice tilting movement while you’re going around corners or dodging incoming projectiles. It makes ITSP look a lot less static than it could have been and doesn’t stick out quite as much as it does in a lot of 2-D / 3-D crossovers.
For its type there’s a surprising amount of gizmos for your space ship to play with. A scanner, lasers, guided missiles, circular saws, shields, grabbing arms, etc. Each is found throughout the adventure and all are necessary to find hidden extra features. The scanner is the key to figuring out what in seven bells you have to do. Given that there’s no text or dialogue in this game either. But mostly you’ll only have to scan new obstacles once to get the hint. After that it’s just a case of using the gizmo or weapon available, or having to come back to that section later once you’ve found said gizmo or weapon. You’ll quickly recognise the task at hand the second time you fly past it. There’s a lot of re-playability in this game. Finding artefacts, concept art, getting all the weapon and shield upgrades, having to track back to access areas previously closed off to you.
Enemies correspond with their settings, the Organic Zones have plenty of plant-like spore creatures, that sometimes explode.. The Ocean Zone carries plenty of large and dangerous sea life, as expected.. And the Ice Zone which is full of “@$%ing Snowflakes! All are brilliantly designed to mess up your spaceship.. Manoeuvring to avoid or buy time to engage a specifically effective weapon is the only way to evade crashing into a multitude of creatures and environmental hazards.
All Bosses are fixed solidly into their environment, and it’s definitely not a case of blasting every spiky crevice with lasers. Experiments are required to find out how to beat each boss, all the while you looking like a delicious appetizer from some giant toothy gaping maw. Everything needed to finish each battle is within your grasp, knowing what you have to do is half the trick, and sometimes it involves being closer than is comfortable to large and hungry shadow beasts.
The multiplayer feels like more of an after thought to be honest. It’s more of the same takes, only they generate a score and you benefit more from having the extra players to watch your back. However, if multiplayer is your thing, you’re gonna want some physical people to play Local with. Since I’ve seldom encountered another player in the online mode, it’s just not quite captivating enough to hold your attention.
But unfairly, my major gripe with ITSP is its connection to Windows Live. I’m all for signing up to another service if I feel I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of it, however, I’m not personally a Live user. There’s utterly no benefit for me using this service except to link up ITSP’s multiplayer . But I’m more prone to playing these locally with friends than setting up and online match. Which suits me find because there’s seldom anyone else hooked up to the online multiplayer. Not only did I feel reluctant to have to sign up to Live after already purchasing it with Steam, it managed to link up with an Xbox Live account that I’ve never heard of and is certainly not mine. I can only apologise to this user and hope he / she appreciates whatever points I’ve given them while trying to formulate an opinion of the game. To give it credit, I’ve not actually received any junk mail from Windows Live, like I would have anticipated, and it hasn’t actually hindered my experience of the game. It only left me slightly bewildered. I may not be so reluctant to try this again when next encountered.
There may not be a lot original about ITSP, save for its painstakingly animated environments, but that doesn’t diminish its enjoyability. It takes a lot of common features that are fun in their own aspect and gathers them in one place to provide an entertaining, long-lived and challenging gaming experience.