For years, fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) have been itching to get their hands on a qualified successor to the gaming franchise, but TMNT: Out of the Shadows promises more than it can handle. Although the easiest route taken would just be playing on the sense of nostalgia, TMNT: Out of the Shadows delivers a thoughtful experience that has plenty of depth. Developer Red Fly Studio set out to create what they felt is a Ninja Turtle experience that resounds with its audience both of the generation growing up with the current Nickelodeon TMNT show, and the audience that grew up on the comics/animated series/live-action movies decades back. Did they achieve this goal? I can say it was accomplished, but it comes bundled with a bit of tough love.
TMNT: Out of the Shadows is based within the same universe of the current running TMNT television show but tries to be something more of its own turtle powered story. The best thing to come from the story mode is the online co-op. Right from the beginning, you’ll feel a bit unsure on how the story will unfold and if it’ll be worth it in the end, and unfortunately, you may leave disappointed. Although there’s some great dialogue that comes out of the story between your heroes in a half-shell, it’s not enough to keep the story afloat. Between the generic plot, the very glitchy and uninspiring boss battles, and the very basic cut-scenes, you’ll find yourself going through the motions to unlock the rest of what the game has to offer. On the upside, the online co-op is actually quite enjoyable if you can get your team attacks timed correctly, and the overall plot is somewhat turtle reminiscent. However, this doesn’t seem to match the same quality we’ve actually come to see from the current running Nickelodeon series.
Although I found myself playing more of the challenge mode than any other mode the game has to offer, there’s something available to please all types of players. Story mode is a single player, 2-player split-screen, or 4-player online experience; Arcade mode is a classic side-scrolling beat-em-up that uses the new combat system for couch co-op for up to 4 players; Challenge mode is a single-player mode that allows you to take on 4 rounds of enemies, while trying to get the best score possible; and Survival mode is the final mode, consisting of a single player that is in control of all 4 turtles at once, struggling to survive as many waves of enemies as possible. The total package of what TMNT: Out of the Shadows has to offer is actually quite surprising. It’s a little upsetting that neither the Survival or Arcade modes are online co-op, both of which would leave very fulfilling online experiences. Between all the modes available, a very intriguing combat system, and an added depth provided by the stats to customize your play style, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is enjoyable turtle fun.
It’s pretty inspiring what Red Fly attempted to do with the depth in both combat and customization. Although there’s a bit of a learning curve, fans of other titles like the Batman: Arkham series may feel very at home with the combat system. You’ll find similarities between the counters, fighting, and Turtle-Power KO’s, all that are vaguely reminiscent to that of another crime fighting individual. TMNT: Out of the Shadows adds its own flair by throwing special attacks your way that take advantage of the modifier button and the right thumbstick. The way this works is that you hold down the modifier button and rotate the right thumbstick in a 90°, 180°, or 360° motion that will provide a different special attack that consumes a portion of your energy displayed at the top corner of the screen. Shortly after some practice, you’ll find yourself chaining special attacks with special counters, combo attacks to Turtle-Power KO’s, all working your way to that 99 hit combo Achievement. The further you play into the story and other game modes, the more experience you gain and level up, and the more points you earn to spend on customizing your turtles further along. In what is possibly one of the most interesting concepts of this game, the stats section of TMNT: Out of the Shadows actually lets you spend ability points to level up your turtles in certain aspects of their abilities. There are a few spots where you’ll actually have to decide which ability you’d like to have over another, bringing a bit more personality into your play style. There’s really a lot to love in this game, but a lot of what makes it so special is also what makes it so frustrating. If you’re not fast enough or watching your surroundings carefully, simple combat techniques, such as countering, can become infuriating combo breakers. Other times you’ll find the combat to be a little too sensitive and you’ll find yourselves evading a little too much. Combined with various technical issues, the game’s full potential is not fully reached.
As someone who was looking forward to this game, the end result was somewhat of a disappointment for me. The overall experience is enjoyable, full of personality, and offers a multitude of options, but the lack of polish and constant issues leave much more wanted. The potential is there leaving room for a possible sequel to fix these issues in the future. As a downloadable game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows offers an entertaining and challenging bundle worthy of the TMNT namesake.