At the time of a global pandemic, what could be better than indulging in an interactive movie centred around the outbreak and side effects of a scientific experiment gone wrong? Maybe the experience is not for everyone, but if it is something you fancy, then Wales Interactive’s The Complex is available via gaming service Steam on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
As a format, interactive films are an exciting prospect as they open our eyes to a world of gaming/cinema that has always been under-resourced. As far back as the 1960s, there have been examples of interactive features in which the audience would vote for what action they would like the characters to take, and this idea has been carried through gaming and onto streams, with the likes of Black Mirror taking on the challenge in the 21st century.
The Complex is very much of the same ilk as Charlie Brooker’s award-winning series, with an exciting plot that explores areas of science that may not lie too far in the future. Dr Amy Tenant (Michelle Mylett) is a renowned and acclaimed scientist who is leading the advancement of nano cell technology following her years in the field in the war-torn state of Kindar. When her biochemical is stolen and recovered from the high-security labs at Kensington Corp, Amy must team up with former colleague and companion Dr Rees Wakefield (Al Weaver) in order to find out the cause of these events, all the while unaware that their lives too may be at stake. Every decision counts.
With a recognisable cast who put in a determined shift and evidently a sizeable budget, The Complex largely meets the criteria of a very professional interactive movie. It’s slick and well-directed, with a fairly tight script that suffers only from the limitations of its locations. What starts out as an expansive environment, as we travel around the world into crisis-stricken warzones and city business centres, eventually ends up being quite limited once the main protagonists enter the laboratory deep below ground. The plot direction can lead to some serious restrictions on the freedom of the characters, but considering its runtime of about just over an hour, you remain gripped and involved throughout, engaged in the action regardless of the setting.
The film doesn’t stray far from the formula, but particular emphasis is placed on how your decisions affect your personality and relationship scores, meaning a far more methodical approach is needed from the viewer. Act dispassionately and face the consequences; think about your next move and your story will take a different path. It really is an intriguing concept, almost frustrating the viewer by keeping some stories and events secret until they play the movie again. Subsequent run-throughs suggest that actually the decisions taken earlier on are relatively null and void come the conclusion, but regardless, there is still an urge deep down to play again. Choices in the game are arguably limited, occurring only every few minutes, but if you are a fan of the genre you will likely enjoy the experience. However, it’s a very fine line to tread between two worlds, and The Complex could prove unsatisfying for gamers, and infuriatingly intrusive for movie lovers.
The Complex is released on Steam on 31st March 2020.
Watch the trailer for The Complex here: