STAFF REVIEW of Complex, The (Xbox One)

Friday, April 17, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Complex, The Box art Have you ever watched a movie and wish you could actually make the character on screen decide what to do because you clearly know better? Movies are an interesting medium, as they tell a story, but it’s a linear experience, as you simply sit there and watch the narrative unfold without any decision making or input. Things are changing though, and if you’ve experienced an interactive film before, either with Wales Interactive’s previous ‘games’ in this genre, or even Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch on Netflix, then you’ll know what to expect with The Complex.

Essentially you’re watching a movie, as it’s all filmed with real actors, but you’ll be given choices now and then on how you want the character to react or respond, giving you a choice of how events unfold, much like a Choose Your Own Adventure book from eons ago. While some might not believe that having you press a button or two every 15-20 minutes constitute as a “game”, it’s still an interactive form of media, and the quality is there to still make it an entertaining one at that.

Filmed in the UK, The Complex is a sci-fi live action interactive adventure that will have you making some tough decisions from its very beginning moments. There’s not always a right or wrong, as sometimes you need to skirt a morally grey area. Case in point, the first decision you make is going to be choosing between two people who lives and whom dies. There’s no traditional ‘game over’ in a sense, as your choices simply change the outcome moving forward, and with eight endings to strive for, there’s a decent amount of content to experience if you’re able to make all the “right” choices.

The Complex’s narrative, written by Lynn Maxcy, takes place after a massive bio-weapon attack hits London. Two doctors, Dr. Amy Tenant (played by Michelle Mylett, best known from Letterkenny) and Rees Wakefield (played by Al Weaver, which I know as Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2) are trapped in an underground laboratory where Dr. Amy has been conducting her revolutionary Nanocell technology. The lab is on lockdown mode, and not only is time running out, but so it their air supply. Of course, this technology is very sought after by nefarious people, but to complicate matters more, someone that was on the subway, sick and bleeding from the eyes, is also in the lab with them, which is no coincidence.

You control Amy’s actions when given the choices and The Complex will actually track your relationships between all of the characters as you work your way towards finding the multiple endings. Amy and Rees have history, so how does that play out in your first playthrough? Once you learn some critical information about your boss Nathalie Kensington (played by Kate Dickie, best known as Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones), will this change how you interact with her and her assistant during your video calls? I don’t want to delve into the story much further, but you’ll need to make some tough choices along the way, justifying them either way to yourself and seeing the consequences for doing so. Sometimes you won’t be able to save everyone, or the choices you make won’t show their results on the surface until the very end.

Given that this is an interactive movie at its core, the majority of the time will you be watching said movie play out, but now and then you’ll be given usually two choices for Amy to make. You’re not always given a lot of time to think it over too, so your first or second playthroughs will be reactionary until you see the main plot points unfold in different ways. Every choice you make it tracked and Amy’s personality will be shown at the end of the credits, determining your personality. Was your Amy agreeable, neurotic or open? You’ll see at the end of each playthrough.

Much like most movie experiences, The Complex will run around about the 90 minute mark per playthrough. Obviously they want you to play a handful of times to find all of the endings, though I wish there was some sort of marking to indicate what choice I’ve made previously when given them again so I can go down a different path of choices. Given that The Complex is live action, I’m more judging the visuals on its sets and CGI. It’s obvious that this had a budget, and given that the majority of the narrative is told inside the lab, there’s not all that much to look at. When there are moments with CGI, it’s quite noticeable and the production quality is something you’d find from a straight-to-TV B-movie. That’s not to say the acting isn’t fantastic, as everyone did a great job throughout, especially Michelle Mylett as Dr. Amy. The $16.99 CAD asking price is right on par with the value it gives as well.

The story is interesting, characters have growth and mystery, acting is done wonderfully and the multiple endings means you’ll always have some sort of surprise by the time the credits roll again. My first ending was dramatically different from my second, so I’m glad it wasn’t just minor differences for the outcomes as a way to sell the multiple ending angle. The real question is, will you choose to smash or blow up the toilet?

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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