When I saw the trailer for Shadow Planet, months ago, I was immediately intrigued. The art style was dark and sharp, the world haunting, and it definitely looked like something I wanted to play.

I was surprised to discover that the game has more of a Metroid-vania feel - that is, the gameplay revolves around exploration of the environment, using new power-ups to get further and deeper in the titular Shadow Planet which has 'infected' your home planet. As you delve deeper and deeper, you'll find new worlds, enemies, abilities, and various collectibles.

Playing something like a twin-stick shooter, you fly around in a little UFO as you try to avoid the various, and often hostile, denizens of this dark world. The upgrades to your ship, which are pleasantly diverse, range from missiles, to laser beams, to a simple shield, and even some sort of special tractor beam that can be used to push and pull various objects and enemies. The fact that the abilities are used both as tools and as weapons is a nice element of the game, as you never feel like something you pick up is completely useless except as a tool to unlock a door or something.

Gameplay is quick and tight, with enemies and bosses galore, and exploration is rewarded with upgrades to your shields and guns, as well as concept art or the origins of the planet. Puzzles are interesting and unique, and you'll rarely see the same puzzle mechanic more than a couple times, so things stay fresh. The biggest issue here is that the game just feels too short for the price tag. If you simply rush through, it's easily beatable within an afternoon, though exploring and collecting everything possible will likely double that.

In addition to the game's main story mode, there's also Lantern Run. This multiplayer mode involves you and up to three buddies each dragging a 'lantern' through a corridor filled with enemies, trying to outrun the monstrosity that's slowly and relentlessly chasing you. I found this surprisingly enjoyable, especially when you have four people yelling at each other to get out of the way as you struggle through a tight, rock-filled passageway with the horror just behind you.

There isn't too much to say about Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet; it's a very solid exploratory adventure title that's needs a bit more length to justify a full-priced purchase of. Excellent art and music really bring the world to life, and a multiplayer mode that can eat up an hour or so of time, if you're so inclined makes a pretty good game that I'd casually recommend.