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  • Writer's pictureJustin Hess

Review: The Callisto Protocol

How does this new horror experience hold up with our resident horror game expert Justin?

This review on The Callisto Protocol will be quick and to the point without jumping through hoops. The bottom line for this game is that it's rather dull and uninteresting. I wanted to like this game, and gave it a solid chance as I completed it (if you can call it a complete game). For those of you who beat the game, you know what I'm referring to without spoiling anything. This game is full of cheap 'jump-scares' that have zero effect and full of 'wanna-be' Dead Space moments; the issue with this game is that it tried being Dead Space rather than being its own thing and having its own identity. I never jumped once, felt panicked, or scared through any of the horror this game tried conveying.

"The yearning to explore is there, but at no point do we have the freedom to do so."

The game is unremitting as it utilizes the same scare tactics. Jump scares soon became second nature and were expected in every instance. I can't stress how often the developers use the same enemy for these moments. It felt like I was being grabbed around every corner or while opening every locker/chest. The level design was mediocre at best, as it all seemed like one long hallway retextured for a different environment. The most disappointing aspect of this was the outdoor alien landscape. The developers had a significant opportunity to flesh out Callisto's world, and it was bungled. To create a new, uninhabitable alien environment from your wildest dreams fell quickly generic with a monotone color mountainscape terrain.

"50 shades of grey" takes on a more literal meaning in this game.

While advancing in the locally seen harsh environment, the yearning to explore is there, but at no point do we have the freedom to do so. The game keeps you on a trail giving the illusion that you're lost in blizzard-like conditions when in reality, it's guiding you in the correct cardinal directions.

Another major complaint about this game's environment is the construction of the prison you're trapped within. I get this is a harsh, cold, industrial aesthetic as the name Black Iron Prison implies, but where was OSHA when this place was built?

Is anything really a trap when everything is a trap?

There are an insane number of environmental hazards, like giant metal-bladed fans exposed at ground level and giant gears spinning that are perfect for any loose thread getting caught to pull you in and grind you up. I lost count of how many grate-like structures were installed throughout hallways and rooms, which housed spikes, ready for anyone to trip or run into them, becoming impaled like an iron maiden. Unbearably these designs made the prison's layout seem unbelievable, even if it is a place for hardened criminals/murderers in a futuristic dystopian.

Additionally, the creature designs should have been more robust, as they were lacking. Unlike Dead Space's unique bounteous array of enemies, creativity seemed amiss. You could count the different types of enemies on a single hand throughout the entire 'complete' game. On a worse note, a boss introduced on an elevator is reused at four (or five) different points throughout the game. It's not the same enemy as you do kill it each time, but man, this was simply lazy design and left me wildly annoyed playing through the game. I want to avoid fighting a boss that was hyped during its first encounter only to discover it 'x' many times more down the road.

Furthermore, the robot sentries/guards had the worst voice imaginable. They sounded like the director told someone to lower their voice to a baritone and read the lines stiffly. They didn't seem to have any form of voice modulation, autotuning, or filters to their voices. These aren't meant to have human characteristics like those in Alien Isolation. They are straight-up robots. If a human aesthetic was the case, then I could let this slide, but they aren't, and it doesn't fit! Another issue with these security bots is they only attack you. They could care less about the monsters roaming about, which is incredibly annoying.

The fighting mechanic was alright, but again, lacking. The guns were nothing unique like in its predecessor, Dead Space, and resembled more modern-style handguns, shotguns, and rifles, but with a 'futuristic' aesthetic as you 3D print them and their improved forms. Melee mechanics were 'meh,' but the most annoying factor about combat was the dodge mechanic. The game is built around dodging, forcing you to be a close-quarters-combat expert. Solid Snake would be proud. In this combat style, you must avoid a three- or four-hit combo; upon successfully performing and retaliating with a melee hit, you are rewarded with a bonus 'quick shot' from your side piece to inflict more damage. You can open fire on enemies; however, they are tanky and will result in ammo depletion.

Remember the 5 D's of combat: Dodge, dodge, dodge, deck, and discharge.

Once more, there is an option you can enable to 'auto-dodge,' which means the game dodges for you while holding a directional button. Granted, this was under the accessibility menu, so I understand why it's there, and I appreciate the devs doing this for those who need it. The entire game is as follows: an enemy attack with a three or four-hit combo; successfully dodging allows a melee attack and quick shot moment, rinse and repeat. It is as repetitive as a carousel, with nothing fresh thrown into the mix!

Aside from a rough launch, as the game had stutter issues, among other complaints, the developers did a great job patching it up quickly and getting it to run as intended. Good job here! Further bad news, though, is how it ended. I'm warning you, consumer, if you are buying this game, you are buying an incomplete story that is being forced as DLC to find out what happens. This issue is the most annoying aspect of it all. After dedicating my time, using my hard-earned money to purchase this title, and willingness to see it to the end, there was no end. It left a sour taste in my mouth, and I guarantee you I won't be buying any DLC for this game. To be completely honest, I don't care what happens next. It will be one of those things I stumble upon on YouTube years later to find out what happens in the DLC ending after forgetting about this game's existence. It was uninstalled the minute I completed it. Unfortunately, as much as I was looking forward to this game as a big survivor-horror buff, this Quit the Build review ended up as a 'Cry' and not 'Buy.' Perhaps it's worth it if it's on Steam sale for ten dollars or part of a humble bundle, but certainly not full retail price.

Quit The Build, also known as QTB, is a growing network of podcasts, influencers, and contributors all with a common passion for video games, movies & television, and pop culture. Founded in 2015, Quit The Build is bringing a unique perspective to the table through years of experience in the media industry. Get the latest video game news from Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and PC gaming with the Quit The Build Podcast every Wednesday. Join our growing Community and discover our growing Network for more content!
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