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The Complex

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Developer: Wales Interactive
Release Date: March 31, 2020


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PS4 Review - 'The Complex'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 24, 2020 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

The Complex is a cinematic FMV sci-fi thriller with choose-your-own-adventure style gameplay.

The Complex is less of a game and more of an interactive movie. You're given the choice from time to time to select a character's tone or response (akin to Until Dawn), but that's about it. In essence, you're buying a movie with the possibility of tone changes upon a repeat viewing. That's probably going to be the biggest factor to determine whether The Complex is worth it for you. The differences are relatively minor, and the plot goes largely in the same direction, barring a couple of significant choices.

With that out of the way, The Complex follows the story of Dr. Amy Tennant, an expert in biotechnology. When a mysterious illness manifests in a passenger on the London Underground (subway), Amy is called in to help. It quickly turns out that the "illness" is a series of rogue nanomachines that were developed by Amy and somehow managed to infect the sick passenger, a woman named Claire. To treat her, Amy and a small number of scientists are sequestered in The Complex, an underground lab designed to be completely sterile. Things go downhill when a group of terrorists attack the lab, and Amy must find a cure and escape alive.

The main plot is relatively interesting, but it suffers due to the need to be interactive. The movie throws plot twists at you with blazing speed, which rarely gives you enough time to adjust to one before the next one is on. With a relatively short running time of just over an hour, The Complex has a frantic pace that doesn't really allow certain plot beats to hit as well as they should.

One problem I have is with the ending — or rather, endings. There are two significant branches that the final story path takes, and one of them feels far less satisfying than the other. It involves a last-minute plot twist that completely changes the tone of the story, a lot of extremely bad CGI gunshot wounds, and probably some of the worst acting in the story. The other path is slightly unsatisfying but feels like a coherent end to the story, rather than the result of a bunch of last-minute plot twists that devalue large swaths of what came before.

The acting is relatively good, but it becomes very clear when characters are asked to act beyond their comfort zone. Amy does well when showing empathy or doing science work, but when the plot asks her to do something else, it fits extremely badly even when the plot says it shouldn't. Rees Wakefield, Amy's love interest, is OK but doesn't quite have enough charisma to be a snarky genius. For me, the standout was Kim Adis as Claire, the initial victim of the nanomachines. Her character is likeable and feels mostly natural, which helps to really sell the story beats.

The overall development budget is fairly low, and it shows. The sets feel artificial and lack weight. The highlight is some good special effects that show the impact of the nanomachines on Claire. Anything involving gun violence or corpses looks like a cheap TV show, especially the aforementioned gunshot wounds, which genuinely look like something from a joke YouTube video. If you don't mind that sort of thing, it's not overly distracting, but it's more like a long episode of a network TV show rather than a film.

The movie is what you'd put on during a lazy afternoon when you feel like vegging out. It's neither awful nor great, but it's strictly average. There are some standout moments, and the various twists and turns are fun to follow. The replay value feels fairly limited, as once you know the twists, it becomes a lot less engaging to see it all again. Once you go for the "other" ending path, you'll quickly find there isn't much extra satisfying there, either.

Is The Complex worth it? It's really hard to say. It's not exactly an expensive buy at £9.99, and the addition of choices make it more engaging than a television episode or movie. At the end of the day, it's basically a £10 movie rental with some button prompts added in. The best way to play it would be with a group of friends watching together, so you can argue over the choices and go for the path that feels best for you. Otherwise, there are better games and better movies available for the same cost.

Score: 7.0/10

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