The Complex: The BRWC Review. By Wormatron.
Confronted with the horrors of the world, for which I can only be held partially responsible, I find myself almost entirely isolated, save for one other person with whom I have to endure this struggle. Granted, the use of technology allows us to seek guidance and demand answers from a wider group, although exactly whom, and what information I can trust isn’t always entirely clear. The brutal reality of the current situation is, as with most things in life, the decisions I make will have very real consequences, most of which I am unable to even begin to imagine. And so, I do what I have to, I accept personal responsibility and I decide.
The parallels are stark, really, between the near-real-world in Wales Interactives’ The Complex and the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-twenty. It feels entirely apposite that this play/decide interactive movie should release but a week after a very real lockdown was enacted across our lands.
And so to the thing itself…
Wales Interactive’s website describes the plot as “Having treated the victims of a chemical attack in the totalitarian state of Kindar, Dr Amy Tenant is a leader in the advancement of Nanocell Technology. Now, in London, news breaks of a blood-vomiting civilian whose identity is far from coincidental. Reunited with an old friend, Amy is trapped in an impenetrable HQ of laboratories—a womb of scientific advancement with a perilous secret.”
The intention of this work is to set the player as the protagonist of the plot, to take you on a journey through various plot routes while you, as Amy, are forced to make a series of decisions that impact your journey. These resolutions allow you to navigate through eight different outcomes, each a result of relationship status tracking that influences the story as you play and real-time personality trait tracking that evolves based on your choices.
In the mould of Bandersnatch and Late Shift, neither of which I have ‘played’, the reality is that the product feels too on-rails to sit comfortably as a game, and does not have the narrative depth or scope to unravel as a film before you.
Billed as a sci-fi thriller, all the hallmarks of the genre are certainly present, unfortunately, this correspondent, at least, wasn’t moved by the action at all. For all the polish, and there certainly was a lot of that, the narrative felt fairly derivative, perhaps a result of trying to fit the plot of a feature-length into something playable in one sitting.
And this, I fear, is the rub.
There is much to like about The Complex. From the attempted scope of the project to the overall quality of what is delivered, serious time and effort has been put into the idea. On paper, this has all of the qualities needed for a hit. As the adage goes, however, games aren’t played on paper (alright, many games are played on paper and this is the weakest part of a fairly labouring review…). The execution just misses, not by much, but enough to leave you feeling disappointed, regardless of the denouement.
I played through twice but came to fairly similar endings, almost certainly a result of my decisions, and certainly no comment on the breadth of conclusions available across the stated eight resolutions. I attempted to try for a third, completely different journey but ran out of steam after the first decision and exited the ‘game’.
Perhaps, as with much in these trying times, this ‘thriller’ is as much a victim of current world events as everything else. Sitting too close to reality at its time of release almost certainly does it no favours.
I really wanted to enjoy my time at Kensington Corp., I really did, decisions, however, all felt too binary, a little simplistic, perhaps. And maybe this is where we come to the cruces of it all. Maybe what was attempted, like the world around us at present, was just too complex…
THE COMPLEX a live action, interactive Sci-Fi thriller is out now worldwide through PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Wormatron is a near middle-aged misanthrope who, like everyone else in the world, streams games as a hobby. You can find them at twitch.tv/wormatron. They are no better at streaming than they are at writing reviews. Be forewarned…
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