Review: The Callisto Protocol
The Callisto Protocol is a new survival-horror game developed by Striking Distance Studios and published by KRAFTON, Inc. I had relatively high hopes for the game, and when it was released on December 2nd, I immediately picked it up and jumped right in. I am very easygoing when it comes to games, even when picking them apart for review, but I honestly can’t recommend this one. It has some good aspects and a handful of not-so-good features. So let’s get right into the whys and hows.
First, let's talk about mechanics. I've seen a lot of people complain about clunky combat mechanics, and that's not really my gripe. Slower movement and combat have their place, but if you're going to have slower, survival-horror-style combat mechanics, then don't also try to make your game a brawler. Their way of making the game challenging and "scary" is to throw a bunch of enemies at you. Maybe I just had misplaced expectations, but I dropped the difficulty from medium to easy a few hours in when I kept dying to a swarm of enemies. That isn't survival-horror to me. It's extremely derivative in both mechanics and visuals, which isn't that big of a deal in my opinion (it’s tough to make something completely original these days), but also in the tired, overused plot.
So let's move on to the plot and setting. This story has been done over and over again. It started off fairly strong, but from Doom to Dead Space (I can’t wait for the remake), it took the same type of major plot hooks yet didn't do anything new or special with them. The setting and atmosphere are standard but great - if only they had used them correctly. It really just felt like moving from one fight to another down the same-ish, generically spooky hallways so you can find another switch to get back to where you were in the first place when the floor collapsed, and god, the amount of times they used that tired trick of "oh, the NPC made it across, but OH NO, it collapsed when you went for it" is just absurd. Find a new trick, please. The level of action also really takes away from the suspense. They throw a few different enemies in there, but for the most part, it's just the same fights over and over again. The horror aspect is also extremely derivative and predictable. I don't mind jump scares; I think people are too hard on them. They have their place in horror, but damn, it's so generic and predictably done the whole way through. It all just feels extremely phoned-in and lazy.
I will end on a more positive note, though - the game is truly beautiful. Though the setting is the same tired thing from games past, it's visually impressive (or at least keeps up with the times). The sound design is decent, but they could have used it better. I did find myself wanting to see the game through to the end and wasn’t surprised at all with the finale, but I did have some fun getting there. So in my humblest of opinions, it had potential - all the ingredients were there; they just didn't put them to work the way they should have. If you haven't picked it up yet, it might be worth a playthrough if it ever goes on “mega sale,” which, judging by the state of the game, it probably won't be too long before that happens. I give The Callisto Protocol 4 necromo…wait, wrong game. I give it 4/10.