What scares you? Physique horror? Claustrophobia? The concept of issues being pushed by way of your eyes? Bounce scares? Mediocre stage design? The Callisto Protocol has all of it, for higher and for worse. Insistent on pushing you over the sting and making you sweat, Putting Distance Studios’ first recreation is overbearing; a carnival horror home making an attempt to be a top-of-the-line escape room, Michael Bay making an attempt to be John Carpenter. It does every part Lifeless House did, certain – however as soon as the bottom is already damaged, does it want breaking once more?
There are variations, in fact. The Callisto Protocol is prettier. The characters are extra fleshed out, and there’s Hollywood expertise within the area fits, too. The manufacturing values are upgraded. The fight, at first, is best. However The Callisto Protocol is making an attempt to be too many issues. It’s making an attempt to be a thriller, it’s making an attempt to be a psychological horror, it’s making an attempt to be a sci-fi area opera about conspiracy and spiritual zealotry. It lacks the lean focus of its cinematic or online game inspirations, and infrequently comes off like one of many shambling, shaking corpses it likes to spring on you while you assume you’re having fun with a second of security, as an alternative.
The builders on the fledgling Putting Distance Studios went off in regards to the recreation’s ‘concern engineering’ throughout growth – a lofty, PR-driven spiel about how the sport can learn your actions and feelings as you play and reply with brutal accuracy to terrify you. In apply, because of this favouring melee assaults will make enemies counter you extra. Favouring your pistol will imply they lurch at you. Utilizing your pseudo-telekinetic GRP system means they avoid spikes on the partitions. What was meant to be bleeding-edge AI feels just like the superfluous enemies thrown at you in a Future raid. Which might be only a bit more durable to kill.
For the primary few hours, the sport revels in opening up slowly; a blooming corpse flower wealthy with stench and menace. It’s nice. It’s gradual, just like the builders have hitched a meat hook to your chest and are pulling you thru sewers, hospital wards, and jail cells. Like a whistle-stop tour of Silent Hill, Resi, and Amnesia multi function, coaxing you ahead as you hate your self for having fun with the horror, promising one thing new on the finish of the tunnel… one thing that disappointingly by no means materialises.
Right through, you’re examined. As your techniques evolve and your stock swells, you cope with extra enemies – creatures that evolve with you, watch you from the vents and be taught your strikes and your motivations. The entire recreation is about evolution, in spite of everything: the evolution of man, the evolution of horror, the evolution of Glen Schofield from Name of Obligation kingpin to horror auteur. Besides none of it actually comes off, does it? Man by no means evolves, as a result of these hideous mutations get in the best way. Horror by no means actually turns into elevated, as a result of it’s so obsessive about paying its dues to what’s come earlier than. And Schofield, it appears, is struggling to go away Name of Obligation behind.
The fingerprints of Sledgehammer Video games are throughout this; skinny corridors, scripted encounters, the phantasm of alternative. Labyrinthine paths by way of domed conservatories persuade you that you just’re taking part in the sport your manner, however actually you’re simply transferring predictably by way of a flowchart earlier than the following sequence, the place you’re sliding down a sluice or operating away from one thing exploding once more. It labored for Lifeless House due to the character of its world, the realisation of the Ishimura, and the insidious risk of the Marker – The Callisto Protocol has none of that. Only a spreadsheet of horror references, an all-you-can-eat buffet of ugly dying animations to gorge on, and a spoon to feed you with.
The fight is as prescribed. I like the extreme, forehead-to-forehead melee of The Callisto Protocol, however I can see why loads gained’t; an over-reliance on timing, on making you duck and dive and reply in variety, is barely partly mitigated by the satisfaction of blowing a mutant’s head off together with your pistol on the final second. The GRP – a beautiful realisation of physics in a recreation as stompy and over-the-shoulder as this – feels neutered and limp, even when at its strongest. While you first decide it up, you concentrate on Half Life’s grav gun and the terrors of Ravenholm – and the entire logging complicated of the sport most likely needs you to really feel like that, too. However by reminding you of a few of gaming’s greatest horror motion, The Callisto Protocol simply reminds you the way milquetoast it’s as compared. And don’t get me began on the pressured, insta-kill stealth sections that kill all momentum and mute any pressure that may have simply began to bubble up.
This isn’t to say there isn’t recreation oozing throughout the sticky flesh of this Frankenstein, although; it simply feels prefer it’s not what Putting Distance needed it to be. It’s not the following step in horror gaming, the evolution of Lifeless House, or a proposition not like something you’ve seen earlier than – it’s the alternative. An amalgam, lower than the sum of its elements, whose essential focus turns into overwrought and irritating by the point you’re midway by way of its quick run-time. The scariest factor about The Callisto Protocol, sadly, is all of the potential that’s been wasted on a small moon in Jupiter’s orbit.