After their initial heyday in the 1990s, FMV games (or more commonly known in today's vernacular, Interactive Films) are back and better than ever. In recent years we have been blessed with such thrilling tales as The Bunker and most recently Late Shift, and now we have the newest game to question your morales in the growing catalogue of Interactive films from Wales Interactive, The Complex.
Directed by young talented British filmmaker Paul Raschid and starring Michelle Mylett, Kate Dickie and Al Weaver, The Complex follows the story of two scientists Amy (Mylett) and Rees (Weaver) as they are trapped in a locked-down lab whilst attempting to save the life of potential bioterrorist Clare (Kim Adis) who has injected herself with advanced nano cell technology. Whilst battling against the moral dilemma of figuring out exactly if Clare is innocent or not, Amy and Rees must also solve if everyone else, including Amy's close friend Nathalie (Dickie), can truly be trusted.
Choices in games are nothing new, and they aren't limited to just FMV games. A large number of RPGs like Mass Effect to point and click games such as The Walking Dead have always boasted that "choices matter" - however, most of the time, the player's choices lead to one of two linear endings with a few differences sprinkled throughout. What makes The Complex stand out against those examples and its immediate peers is that the choices, along with the relationship status tracker, really do matter.
The game, or rather film, has eight possible endings that are affected from the very first scene and seemingly innocent choices in unpressurised situations can have disastrous outcomes. Now, in normal circumstances be it a standard RPG, these are easier hurdles to overcome as they are animated and are usually set in fantasy based scenarios. With The Complex and the fact that it is completely live-action, Raschid and writer Lynn Renee Maxcy had to pay special attention to making sure everything was consistent and the continuity made complete sense - multiple scenes had to be re-shot to even make sure that the backgrounds matched up with previous choices that the players had made. Essentially, the had to make eight films in one - a huge feat to accomplish but one that everyone involved successfully achieved.
The acting and character development was fantastic - Amy and Rees' relationship especially was solid and achieved what it set out to do - a good job as it was most certainly at the forefront of a majority of the bigger choices. Kate Dickie as the mysterious Nathalie was, as always, top-notch and stole every scene that she was in. Couple that with some superb production design and brilliant directing, it really is the complete package.
Normally in an Interactive film, one or two playthroughs is usually enough for players - however, The Complex really lends itself to have you find and discover every single ending to unlock the full potential of the story and world. Thrilling, engaging and morally challenging - The Complex is up there as one of the best Interactive films available in the market.