The FMV renaissance rumbles on and at the forefront of the movement is Wales Interactive, a studio that continues to explore this niche frontier of gaming. Overall its output has been a bit patchy, but nobody could doubt the team's determination to innovate in a space that many thought long dead. The studio's persistence and the growing number of games in the genre have proven this to be far from the case.
The next interactive movie from the company that gave us the likes of The Bunker and The Shapeshifting Detective is an interactive thriller by the name of The Complex, and after playing through it a handful of times we're ready to share our thoughts.
One thing that's fundamentally important in a game like this is the quality of the production values, and in this respect, the studio is getting closer to the level of quality one would expect from a mainstream movie, but we're not sure they're quite there yet. There's never enough extras in the background, the sets are not quite swanky enough, and the profile of the cast is a little hit and miss. Having said all that, our first play was compelling and we certainly didn't regret the time we'd spent. Subsequent plays exposed more than a few cracks as narrative elements clashed with characterful moments, but that first play was entertaining.
The story is set, for the most part, in a research bunker buried deep underground. With time running out a group of scientists must navigate the ulterior motives of those above ground and vanquish their own personal demons in a story that explores ethical issues surrounding medical research. One of our earlier criticisms, specifically the one about the locations, rings most true here. We're supposed to believe that leading researching is taking place in the lab, but it simply doesn't look like a world-class facility, making it harder for us to suspend our disbelief.
There's something not quite right about the casting, too. While we did enjoy the performances of the two main actors, and there were one or two capable performances from the supporting ensemble, there were too many instances where we simply didn't find the characters and their motivations credible. Lead actor Michelle Mylett did a good job as Dr Amy Tenant, for example, but then again she felt too young for the role (which they tried to address in the script), and there was also one or two moments where she was let down by the writer, who had her character saying things and behaving in a way that simply didn't tally with her supposed genius intellect.
Playing opposite Mylett was Al Weaver in the role of Rees Wakefield. We didn't like him at all at the start, but by the end, we had warmed to his performance, even if the character's backstory was a little unconvincing. We'd also like to praise Wakefield for giving us one of the more realistic portrayals of a serious injury that we've seen on-screen - most of the time grievous injuries are glossed over but that simply wasn't the case here.
That said, the further down the cast list you go, the less plausible the performances, and while we thought Kate Dickie did a decent enough job as the corporate chief juggling ethical concerns, we simply didn't think that Okorie Chukwu felt authentic in the role of lab architect Parker Caplani - and he wasn't the only one.
So the casting was a bit hit and miss and the staging wasn't quite realistic, but most people will be able to forgive these flaws if the experience itself flows and feels impactful. Throughout the story, you're given binary decisions to make and based on how you interact with the characters and world around you, the outcomes that play out on screen can drastically alter. We're not going to spoil the endings for you, but we will say that there was a decent amount of variance and we didn't see them all coming - especially the ones that saw the experience end early (though perhaps they might be more frustrating if you encounter them on your first attempt). That said, not all of the decisions you make are particularly impactful, and our contributions sometimes felt completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Considering the modest price, if you're a fan of the genre we'd still recommend taking a chance on this one, but just make sure to savour the first run or two. Digging into the various choices you make can reveals entertaining new scenes that you will have missed before, and with nine endings there's some replayability. Having said that, after two plays you'll mostly be skipping through the scenes (you have to start from the beginning - there's no scene select feature) and trying to find the major decisions so you can see what else happens, and that approach can't help but highlight the production's various shortcomings. It's a solid FMV offering and we enjoyed it, for the most part, but it's not a classic and if you're not a fan of the genre, we doubt The Complex will persuade you to change your mind.
Loading next content