I’m old enough to remember when interactive full motion video games were first rolled out to us, specifically via the Mega CD. Awful, low resolution visuals paired with terrible ‘acting’ and gameplay meant they soon (thankfully) departed from our gaming life. While some are getting a new lease on life in the form of re-releases due to – somehow – achieving a cult status, I’m thankful that we have Wales Interactive here, showing them how it should be done. The Complex is a terrific bit of interactive film, and one that absolutely needs to be experienced.
We play as Amy Tenant, a scientist on the front lines helping victims of a totalitarian dictatorship in the fictional country of Kindar. The opening scene sets the stage nicely, though it does feel a little too forced in it’s attempt to teach players the basics. After quickly getting to know two patients suffering from the attack, an obvious set up leads into the first tough choice of the game. Despite this, it’s still a well put together scene that introduces us to Amy, as well as her partner Rees. We follow on 5 years later, when Amy is presenting her research on Nano Stem Cell technology, being developed at The Complex, to a board of investors. During the hour and a half run-time, we follow Amy on a gripping, well crafted and often surprising story – and one that hits close to home, considering the current climate we find ourselves in IRL.
The actors across the board do a wonderful job of bringing each character to life. The way the story twists and turns to accommodate our choices had some less than favourable characters redeem themselves, while others may just turn out to not be all they seem. I wouldn’t want to rob too much of the mystery though – I’ll just say across several playthroughs I saw many different sides to the main cast, and look forward to getting more of the 9 possible endings to see how much they mix things up.
As we progress, naturally choices pop up allowing us to direct the flow of the tale. Often there are only two choices, though a later example sees four presented to us. We only get a few seconds to decide; take too long and a random answer is picked. I admired how the team managed to avoid the awkward shuffling in position while we choose that some titles end up having, the cast and camera work hiding any unnatural delays well.
Character relationship status can be kept an eye on in the menu, showing how favourable we are in peoples eyes. The result of these stats will affect not only the options available to you, but also the outcomes. There are some genuinely tough choices to make, especially later on, and keeping an eye on this is a great way to know how to proceed if you’re on a repeat play. I’d highly recommend playing it through in one sitting without looking first off though. Our personality is also being monitored by the game too, the end card showing not only each of the casts status, but our own too. Again, this feeds into the possible choices and outcomes.
After playing through for the third time, some small inconsistencies can appear due to the vast amount of choice being presented to us. I won’t go into detail, but a surprise reveal in one play-through sits almost at odds with the majority of the game. It didn’t take away too much mind, and for what it’s worth I still really enjoyed the direction we went, it just felt a little too much of a stretch at that time. I also found some of the CGI to be lacking. For the most part The Complex looks incredible, with great set work and camera use. There’s a little bit of that FMV-tastic effect though in The Void, where our characters look out of place as they traverse a long, dark corridor while looking like something out of the early 90’s. It’s a minor niggle, but when the production quality is so high elsewhere, it stands out. The audio work makes up for this though, with some brilliantly meaty sound effects and a great score.
The Complex is, quite simply, fantastic. Some dodgy CGI and a few plot holes aside, the story being told here is gripping, the characters well acted and brought to life and there’s a ton of variety on offer through the many choices we make along the way. A brilliant example of an interactive movie, and one that you’d be well off to play.
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Great review. I too , remember the days of “FMV” games. It’s nice to see them make a return in high quality, 1080p HD, instead of the lousy 144p we were used to.