Wales Interactive have a niche, and by GOD they are COMFORTABLE IN THAT NICHE. But you know what? That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when you continue to produce quality content for that niche. In Wales Interactive’s case, their thing is FMV (Full Motion Video) games. Once upon a time, that would conjure up images of terrible, hokey, cheesy productions like Night Trap or Sewer Shark; even the ones with a bigger budget like the Wing Commander series tended to be far from professional.
But not any more. Now we have FMV games that are fully realised, well acted and well written, with properly interesting stories to tell. My first experience with this company was in their game The Bunker, which is a wonderfully eerie, claustrophobic story of a man who has grown up inside the titular Bunker in the aftermath of nuclear war. At the beginning of the game his mother dies, leaving him entirely alone for the first time in his life and we, the players, must help him survive.
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Their latest offering is The Complex, a tale of bioengineering, conspiracy, terrorism and moral choices. The player must help lead character Dr Amy Tenant escape her locked down laboratory, hopefully while also managing to keep herself and her companions alive in the aftermath of a bio-terrorism attack on the city of London. Running out of time, running out of air, running out of options and with some nasty men really eager to obtain her work by any means necessary, the player has to make a number of choices throughout the game to move the story forward.
As with many other games of this type, the choices are based on an underlying morality system. Are you going to be sympathetic, hardass, cavalier or diligent? Are you going to sacrifice those who trust you, take the moral high ground, or do whatever is needed to make sure you come out alive? The game not only tracks how your choices influence your relationships with the characters around you, it assesses the kind of person you are and at the end of the game gives you a breakdown of the five basic dimensions of a personality as per the “Five Factor Model”, scoring you on each – extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. The game also has eight potential endings, requiring eight playthroughs to get every outcome.
My first run through the game took five hours and you can’t skip through parts you’ve already seen until you’ve played through the entire game once, so while it’s a little annoying to begin with at least it’s not something you need to worry about on replays as you’ll only see the new stuff, so your follow-up playthroughs will be a fair bit shorter.
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There is no way to manually save at any point. Once started the only option is to play to completion and try to make different decisions each time. It’s a shame as it would be useful if there was an easier way to try out potential combinations of decisions a la games like Mass Effect, but hey ho. There are also no clearly defined breaks between chapters/decisions, so you can quit the game at a point you THINK is probably a chapter break, only to come back and discover you need to re-watch ten minutes of content with no way to skip quickly through it if this is your first playthrough or if you haven’t seen that particular scene to its conclusion.
These minor technical complaints aside, The Complex tells an interesting story, presented by a cast who will draw you into their world and make you feel invested in their fates, making every decision feel like it genuinely matters. It’s another great piece of work by Wales Interactive and well worth picking up.
The Complex is out now on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.