Swing and a Miss: The Callisto Protocol Review
Dead Space this is not.
WACO, Texas (KWTX) -
Here we are at the final horror game release of 2022 and probably the most anticipated release for fans of survival horror for the year. The Callisto Protocol was released December 2, 2022 and was developed by Striking Distance Studios. The game was directed by Glen Shofield, who was a co-creator of the Dead Space game series. As such, many players had high expectations for this game, however I have never played a Dead Space game before, so I am going in with no nostalgia-based presumptions about the quality of this game. Is it visually impressive? Definitely. Is it fun? No. I’m Levi from Hardwired, and this game has the unfortunate circumstance of being a disappointment as I navigate a rough patch in my life.
My personal life aside I give the game massive accolades for its graphics and overall performance (ON PS5...I have to specify that because apparently the game did not perform well on the PC platform). Everything is rendered in amazing visual fidelity. The motion capture that was done for the actors was spectacular. The entire game was beautiful down to even the most minute detail. The gleam in a character’s eyeballs. The sweat running down someone’s face. The scat matter that is left under your character’s fingernails after a romp through the sewer. Exceptional detail all around.
The performances of the actors in the game are top notch. The facial expressions are so lifelike, it felt like I was really watching Josh Duhamel and Karen Fukuhara on the screen and not digital recreations of them. Josh Duhamel delivers a wonderful performance as likeable protagonist Jacob. Karen Fukuhara’s character Dani was mysterious at the beginning of the game, but the character grows on you as the story unfolds. You will absolutely hate Sam Witwer’s character Captain Leon Ferris, but that’s a testament to his performance as a bad guy.
The sounds within the game are well crafted, especially if you are wearing headphones. There are plenty of moments where you hear sounds that will have you darting your eyes around the room checking the corners for incoming threats. The sudden crash of a monster bursting out of an air vent initially delivers nice jump scares but suffers from diminishing returns as it happens over and over. The game’s score gives it a grand expanse of space feel. Just an all-around gorgeous game both visually and acoustically.
The game’s narrative is pretty standard for a mutant zombie outbreak story, it’s just set in a space jail instead of here on Earth. There are no twists that aren’t seen coming. I felt indifferent as I sat through cutscenes. Nothing really stimulated my senses or my curiosity.
Where Dead Space was a mostly ranged weapon game, The Callisto Protocol boasts a melee combat system that feels wonderfully fleshed out, if not a little repetitive. It feels brutal and hard hitting. Every time you strike you can almost feel the force Jacob is exerting onto the enemies. And even more so when they hit you back, as they take nearly a third of your health each time you’re hit. To counteract this there is a dodge mechanic that consists of thumbing your movement directional stick either to the left or the right as the monster is swinging at you, and if they do a follow-up attack, thumbing the stick in the other direction. There is also supposed to be a block mechanic which consists of thumbing the directional stick down, however I don’t think I ever successfully performed a block throughout my entire playtime. But the dodges work well most of the time, and one-on-one combat is a satisfying experience.
There’s just one problem...aside from the first few fights in the game, it is NEVER a ONE-ON-ONE FIGHT! The dodge mechanics don’t work on any other target than whatever monster is basically in the center of your screen. So, you’re dodging ONE DAMN monster while every other creature in the fight bashes your damn skull in from all directions TAKING A THIRD OF YOUR HEALTH WITH EVERY SINGLE HIT! Sometimes you get lucky and one of the enemies you kill will drop a little bit of health that if you’re really quick you can pick it up to basically survive one more hit. Outside of that you have a health injector that you can use to heal, but it’s like a ten second long animation and you can be hit while using it so it’s useless in combat. I sure hope you enjoy Jacob’s death animations, because you will see them over and over and over and over and over and over again until you want to throw your damn controller through the damn TV!
Then you get to the end of the game and let me just say I hope you spent those thirty extra dollars for the season pass, because the ending is incomplete and just teases the DLC that is coming. It’s as if the devs at Striking Distance Studios were like, “My name’s Devey McDeverton, and I love to put on cleats and stomp on puppies! I think it’d be a really good idea if instead of giving people a definitive ending, we just tease a DLC that half of the player base probably didn’t buy the season pass to receive and then after they see what a absolute masterpiece the game is they’re gonna HAVE to buy the DLC. We’re gonna make so much money!”
The Callisto Protocol had all the hallmarks of an instant AAA classic. It had phenomenal graphics and a bankable cast. But the game follows the generic space and zombie virus tropes. Then it falls into repetition with Its mechanics all compounded by near unavoidable dying and then dying again and then dying some more. If you are a more patient man than me, you may find this game enjoyable. As for me, I will give The Callisto Protocol a 5/10 and say that it was not a bad game, it was merely okay. For Hardwired, I’ve been Levi Barner. If you liked this video please like and subscribe to Hardwired for more gaming news, reviews, and more. Hopefully we can all persevere over the hellscape that this world has become, and I’ll see you next time.
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