I love flying my tiny, insanely twisted shadow ship in Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. Regardless of whether you like the rest of this 2D Metroidvania-y exploration game, the one thing you cannot fault is the feel and handling of your silhouetted space saucer. It’s such a joyous thing to whizz around the screen, responding effortlessly to every key press with the elegance of a rocket-powered gazelle. Everything might be out to get you in this strange, hostile environment, but never has such a piddly little spacecraft felt this mighty.
I like Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet very much, and not just because of its magnificent little ship. While the whole black versus another block colour look is very 2012, there’s something innately charming and mysterious about Shadow Planet Productions’ first and only game, especially when you take the time to stop and admire all the things going on in the background. All sorts of creatures are scuttling around out there (I see you, jumbo millipede lads) and in hindsight it reminds me a lot of Hollow Knight‘s Hallownest.
Thankfully, the inhabitants of this gloomy place aren’t nearly as vicious as Team Cherry’s even drearier array of sword-wielding insect drones, but there are times when they get exceedingly close. I remember some of the bosses in particular caused plenty of teeth gnashing and smashing of buttons when I first played it, and even some of the regular enemies can give your ship a bit of a bashing.
I could never stay mad at it for long, though, and that was mostly because your ship was just so damn lovely to control. That, and you had a lot of other tools at your disposal to deal with the planet’s many threats. My favourite is the little claw arm you get right at the start. Again, nothing says, ‘This game was made in 2012’ more than physicsy push-and-pull puzzles, but dang nabbit these ones were just the best thanks to those oh-so-sweet, smooth-grooving controls.
It’s a shame Shadow Planet Productions never made anything else after Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. Still, if you’re ever at a loose end and feel like playing a kind of proto-Hollow Knight set in space, give Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet a try.