The Complex (short interactive scifi film: review).

April 15, 2020 | By | Reply More

Well this is different! ‘The Complex’ was launched on Steam on the 1st of April which in itself is a bit odd. ‘The Complex’ is primarily a video but a video with a difference. At certain points you are offered a choice. Mostly there are two available options but occasionally there may be more. The choices you make effect the storyline and the eventual outcome. It is an interactive video if you will. I suppose being part interactive justifies ‘The Complex’ release on Steam which is better known as a gaming platform.

So, I’m watching the movie on my PC and the story opens with a view of a beach lined with medical tents with explosions going off in the distance. There’s a person in a bio-hazard suit running along the beach before the camera angle switches to inside one of the tents. Two patients are being treated by two doctors. Almost immediately there’s a choice to be made: there is only enough medication for one patient, who gets it? It’s your choice!

While this is just a prelude to the main story, it does introduce the main characters and the facility you have to make a choice. The choices have several effects. Firstly, it can and will affect the flow of the storyline. Secondly, it affects your relationships with the other characters. At the end of the play-through you will get a personality score, which is sort of interesting.

I should mention that you are making the decisions on behalf of the lead character. Dr. Amy Tenant (played by Michelle Mylett), who is a leader in the advancement of Nanocell Technology. Michelle Mylett is known for her work in ‘Letterkenny’ and ‘Bad Blood’ and heads up quite a good cast here. There are Kate Dickie (‘Game Of Thrones’, ‘The Witch’), Al Weaver (‘Grantchester’) and Twitch streamer and former Xbox UK presenter, Leah Viathan, who is rather good in her role.

There’s a whole host of acclaimed people involved behind the scenes. ‘The Complex’ was written by Lynn Renee Maxcy, part of the writing team behind ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. With director Paul Raschid (‘White Chamber’), production designer Guy Thompson (‘Black Sheep’) and the acclaimed director of photography Matthias Pilz (‘Top Boy’).

Back to the movie and’ after the introductory opening sequence’ the action switches to London where Dr. Amy Tenant is giving a presentation to some prospective investors for the company she is now working for. She’s rudely interrupted by a bio-attack which occurs on the London Underground. The attacker appears to have technology stolen from the company. She is quickly apprehended and transferred into the ultra-secure lab in the basement of the company.

This is where the story and interactive part really come into their own. At various stages, you get to make a choice. Now the accompanying material with this preview release said there was a ‘pause’ choice option, but I didn’t see it while watching. I only had a few seconds to make a choice otherwise the story would continue presumably with a default choice.

If you can find it, turn it on as you need time to consider the consequences of the choice you are about to make. I also think it would be invaluable if you are watching it with a group of people. You will need time to discuss/argue and reach a consensus before making the choice and moving on.

Back to the story and there’s espionage at work here. The company has been infiltrated and Dr. Tenant and her assistants are stuck in the ultra-secure laboratory as the place goes into lockdown. The lab comes under attack by three heavily armed terrorists while the morals of the Dr. Tenant’s company’s management are called into question. There’s a lot going on and quite a few choices to be made. Ultimately, the choices lead up to one of a number of potential endings and not all of them are good ones. The ending doesn’t seem to influence the personality score, though. Perhaps I need to play it a bit more before I can be absolutely certain.

I did find the experience enjoyable but as I didn’t have the pause option enabled, I had to be very alert not to miss the choices as they appeared. The production was first rate as was the acting with the exception of the lead Michelle Mylett. I thought her performance was very staid with no real emotion. When she swears, which isn’t often, it seems out of character as there hasn’t been any emotional build up. Of course, that might be because the director didn’t want the characters emotional state to influence the choices you make.

To balance up the scales, I think I should mention that Al Weaver plays his part very well. His character comes across as both incredibly annoying and mysterious but with a dubious past.

As I said, I enjoyed the whole experience and have played it a few times now. In my first run through, I discovered 196 scenes and made 125 decisions. I didn’t keep the scores from the subsequent runs but I know there’s a hidden scene still waiting to be unlocked and probably a few that I missed. So, I need to go back at least one more time and make some more wrong and right choices but not necessarily in that order.

You should give it a go and see what choices you make and what type of personality profile you give Dr. Tenant.

Andy Whitaker

April 2020


Category: MEDIA, Short movie

About the Author ()

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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