Advance The Protocol of Callisto: a simple Dead Space-Like or an innovative bloody and terrifying successor?
Glen Schofield’s (Dead Space) minor will soon point the tip of his nose. With The Callisto Protocol, a space survival horror, the bug remains in its moment, perhaps even too long. Dead Space clone or true horrific experience on the side? After an hour of gameplay and discussion with the developers, this is our verdict.
Preview of the conditions
We were invited to play The Callisto Protocol for an hour on PS5. This corresponds to much of the third level of the game, Habitat. We were also able to speak with three members of the development team, including Glen Schofield and Demetrius Leal (art director).
- Scary, bloody and oppressive.
- Visceral gameplay
- A Dead Space-Like, nothing more?
Pre-order The Callisto Protocol on PS5 with Amazon
Scary, bloody and oppressive.
Callisto Prison is not really a good place to live. On the other hand, snooping around in play is a real treat, at least if the decomposing bodies and hemoglobin spills don’t bother you too much. Visually, The Callisto Protocol delivers on its promise. Whether it’s lighting effects, on-screen elements (smoke, mud, etc.) or places in general, everything is done to generate an atmosphere that is as terrifying as it is oppressive. Often forcing us to crawl, slide through very narrow passages or open locked doors without knowing what is behind it, the levels are very well thought out and contribute to the constant anxiety that reigns in the title. Add to that enemies that appear when you least expect them and rapidly changing environments to perpetually launch us into the unknown and you have a game as varied as it is terrifying, do not put in all hands.
Beware, not for the faint-hearted! It’s not a surprise, The Protocol of Callisto, like its spiritual father, plays with dirty and visceral violence. If blood, gore, and putrid mutations don’t scare you, you’re in for a surprise. This of course applies to the stage, but also to the different enemies or even the many ways to die. againstOf course, the goal is to try to survive at all costs, but we must admit that discovering a new death animation is a small pleasure that makes you want to be reckless at times. Head torn off, body crushed… The developers were not short of inventiveness. As we were told, the search for diversity in all aspects was a key point, one of the first mentioned by Glen Schofield with his team. A successful bet since it feels like the controller in your hand and has provided real added value to our gaming session.
Another point that the developers are very proud of: the use of the apprehension motor. This little machine created by composer Mark Korven is well known to horror movie directors, as it produces terrifying screams and sounds, not always very pleasant to the ear but perfect for creating a gripping horror atmosphere. But no game had used it, at least until The Callisto Protocol. In addition to the use of this tool, a lot of work has been done on the creation, integration and coherence of these sounds. Glen spent 6 days with the sound design teams to make sure everything fit together perfectly. By ear, it makes a difference. The soundscape of the title is as captivating as it is harrowing and fully contributes to the overall atmosphere that is so oppressive.
Behind the scenes
Please note that Striking Distance Studios will be releasing a series of videos to show players how the development team approached horror engineering. The first episode will premiere tomorrow, Thursday, October 27, on the studio’s YouTube channel.
But of course, this atmosphere does not only go through the entire artistic aspect of the title. The gameplay puts anxiety, violence, and fear at the core of its operation. Because if your goal is to move forward to unravel the mysteries of Callisto, the dangerous biophages (equivalent to necromorphs in Dead Space) will stand in your way. To kill them, the choice of approach is yours. You can go for melee, ranged fire, or your anti-gravity weapon. There will be something for everyone, so rest assured that every form of kill has that little visceral and exhilarating side that makes you want to start over. Add to that the new ability to smash downed enemies with a kick to retrieve some loot and you’ve got a combat system that will take your breath away. We especially appreciated the highly addictive melee combat, the well thought out dodge system, and the satisfying pistol finishes. Note, however, that you won’t always have a focus option. Some monsters are difficult to attack head-on, for example, and you’ll need to draw your weapon as soon as the tentacles start pointing their noses. Don’t get comfortable too quickly because the Callisto Protocol is meant to take you out of your comfort zone.
The idea is simple: the threat can come at any time and from anywhere. The attacks were crafted by the teams so as not to respond to the same pattern over and over again. Without terrifying the player, they often surprise and contribute to that feeling of never really being safe. Add to that the ammunition that is scarce, the impossibility of fleeing since the Biophages will always follow you, the mutations that will force you to change the way you play and your sense of direction as your only reference and you get a game where nothing is always safe. Even the gameplay sometimes surprises with infiltration or sliding microphases, perhaps a little less successful. But everything is always designed with the same goal: to develop a feeling of constant anxiety and threat.
A Dead Space-Like, nothing more?
We are not going to hide it, the Dead Space fiber is clearly present in The Callisto Protocol. Fans of the license will be able to rediscover the sensations of the game that excited them so much at the time… and even more. Crushing the corpses of monsters has a whole new flavor with today’s graphics. The gore is more gore, the animations more fluid, the haptic feedback immersive, the violence more realistic… In short, the Callisto Protocol fully exploits the capabilities of its time. But if so, what sets it apart from the upcoming Dead Space Remake?
We mention it quickly but the anti-gravity gun is probably one of the biggest improvements to the title. It not only allows you to give yourself a few moments of respite by pushing enemies away or stunning them with surrounding objects, but also project them onto different elements of the decoration (pikes, ventilation, etc.) that will kill them instantly. not without any satisfaction. In general, the environments are much more exploited in this The Callisto Protocol. The environments and gameplay teams have worked closely together and it shows, multiplying the possibilities at stake, making Callisto Protocol feel more organic and complex than Dead Space was at the time. Whether these possibilities are limited or whether it is possible to find out more and more about the levels remains to be seen.
Another point that will be possible to fully explore when the game is released: the story. Scattered sporadically throughout the game, it is revealed through cutscenes and audio picked up here and there. From what we have seen, it is above all full of mysteries. A way to reinforce the feeling of uncertainty and anxiety, but also to give a reason to go ahead and unearth their secrets one by one. Immersed as we were in the middle of the third level, it’s hard to judge the importance and interest of the story in The Protocol of Callisto. As for the developers, they promise us an important place for the stage and an explosive ending. But to give our verdict on this, we will have to wait for the test.
Efficient gameplay, a wonderfully angsty atmosphere, and exemplary diversity at every level… Targeting both those nostalgic for the old days of Dead Space and fans looking for thrills in space, Glen Schofield’s new baby looks particularly promising. . The Callisto Protocol has everything to be one of the most striking terrifying and bloody experiences of this end of the year and we are looking forward to finding its universe full of hemoglobin and mutant tentacles. Only point that sins: despite its some innovative and well-thought-out mechanics, the title has a hard time completely differentiating itself from its spiritual father. At the moment, it is too early to say that the Callisto Protocol will offer us a truly new experience.
Pre-order The Callisto Protocol on PS5 with Amazon
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