Wales Interactive is slowly becoming the ‘go-to’ company for narrative-driven games. They reignited the FMV, interactive film genre with fantastic games such as The Bunker and Late Shift. Does The Complex reach the heights of their previous outings or is just a bit too simple?
After a bio-weapon attack in London, the city is on high alert. Dr Amy Tenant, the lead scientist at Nanocell Technology, is somehow connected to the blood-vomiting event that is being circulated in the media. Due to a string of events, she finds herself trapped inside a laboratory deep in the depths of London. With little time and air, will you be able to connect the dots and make the right decisions to uncover the secret that ties the events together?
Every choice you make matters and that it the unique selling point of the game. There is no actual gameplay, you simply select between a few choices on what you want the protagonist to do. However, this doesn’t mean you become passive whilst playing. Due to the well-written script and engrossing narrative by Lynn Renee Maxcy (The Handmaid’s Tale) married with the excellent performances by Michelle Mylett (Bad Blood), Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones) and Al Weaver (Grantchester), you’ll be absorbed with this sci-fi thriller.
Wales Interactive has introduced an array of new elements to develop the genre, such as the Relationship Tracker. Your interactions and choices affect your relationship with characters and as a result, this affects the success of your choices. Your choices determine which of the 196 scenes you view and this leads to one of nine possible endings for you to experience.
Although this may sound like a solely single-player experience, I beg to differ. This is the perfect game to play with your partner, especially if they’re not a gamer. Deciding which choice to make becomes even more stressful with someone else as you try to pick the best option in the time given. As with other games in the genre, this could also be a game for streamers with a larger community being involved with the decision making thanks to the Pause Choices feature which has been designed with this in mind.
Being a live-action experience, graphics are hard to comment on, however, the design and interface surrounding the game keep with the overall theme. There is little to no loading time between selecting a choice and the consequential scene making the game feel like a genuine interactive film. Focusing on the visuals, the lighting creates an ambience that evokes unrest with the gamer due to the contrast of high-key lighting of mundane offices and the binary opposition within the laboratory. In short, the cinematographer knew what they were doing!
In terms of sound design, Wales Interactive has always created scores that help to manipulate the mood and create an atmosphere that anchors the gamer in the moment, which is exactly what they have done here. The menacing sound-scapes and the eerie rumbling build suspense in the claustrophobic laboratory making the gamer on edge, questioning the intent of every character.
The Complex has a relatively short runtime, similar to other FMV interactive movies. Although you can complete the game in one sitting, the longevity comes with uncovering the nine possible endings. Wales Interactive have listened to fan feedback and added the Skip Scene feature. After completing the game, previously viewed scenes can be skipped making replaying a shorter but more focused experience. After completing the game several times, I discovered a broad range of endings, one of which altered my perception of the whole game. As a result, I definitely recommend a few playthroughs of the game. Finally, upon completion, the game’s Personality Tracker is revealed. Each decision made during your playthrough is scored, and your personality traits are revealed based on what you have selected. So… choose carefully.
Overall The Complex is one of the best examples of the FMV interactive movie genre there is. Your choices genuinely affect the lives of the characters in the game, even the smallest decisions can have large ramifications. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the game, a lot of people may not enjoy this experience and possibly even refuse to call it a game. It all boils down to this, if you enjoy FMV Interactive films or Telltale-esque games then I definitely recommend this. However, this game won’t change anyone’s mind about the genre as it follows the same tropes that previous iterations have. Due to this, I award this a Thumb Culture Silver Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
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