In December 2022, The Callisto Protocol hit the gaming scene. Originally intended as an in-universe PUBG shooter, things took a turn when ex-Dead Space developers joined the project. The game morphed into what we have today—an unmistakable homage to the Sci-Fi horror franchise. When it first dropped at the end of last year, The Callisto Protocol faced a barrage of criticism, especially for its PC launch. With a Callisto Protocol Metacritic of 6.9, technical problems, and unimpressive gameplay, I decided to check out the PS5 version post-launch to see if the negative feedback was justified.
Callisto Protocol Metacritic: Story
In the distant future, The Callisto Protocol unfolds about two centuries ahead. You step into the shoes of Jacob Lee, a cargo transporter for the United Jupiter Company, shuttling goods between the Jovian moons. On a routine delivery to Callisto’s Black Iron prison, a group of terrorists known as the Outer Way hijacks Jacob’s spacecraft. Amidst the ensuing chaos, the ship crash-lands on the moon, and Jacob finds himself captured without understanding why.
Jacob’s situation worsens as the prisoners of Black Iron undergo disturbing transformations into wild, monstrous entities. Breaking free from his prison cell, Jacob has a singular objective: to escape Callisto alive. However, with numerous horrors blocking his path, achieving this goal proves to be a formidable challenge.
The storyline of The Callisto Protocol draws inspiration from classic sci-fi horror films like Alien, The Thing, and Event Horizon. Influences from video games such as Resident Evil and the iconic Dead Space are evident. Even when the gameplay becomes somewhat repetitive, the plot, though thin, propels you forward, compelling you to uncover the mysteries behind the prisoners’ unsettling mutations.
Callisto Protocol Metacritic: Gameplay
At its essence, The Callisto Protocol is a third-person survival/horror game akin to Dead Space and various Resident Evil titles. Just like in those games, you’ll wander through diverse environments, scavenging for scarce resources like healing items and ammo. As you advance through the game, you’ll unlock a range of firearms that can be enhanced at 3D printing stations.
In this genre, melee combat typically takes a backseat, but here, it’s a pivotal element. Armed with an upgradable stun baton obtained early on, you’ll batter foes, finding immense satisfaction in shattering limbs and crushing skulls. Dodging attacks involves holding right or left on the left analog stick, a maneuver that oddly reminded me of the evasive moves in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out on the Nintendo Entertainment System, for better or worse.
Engaging in melee combat proves effective when facing a lone adversary, but the system falters when confronted by additional foes. Even if you manage to evade one enemy’s attack, another creature inevitably lands a hit. The close-up camera angle exacerbates the issue. However, even with a more distant camera view, handling multiple adversaries remains challenging due to Jacob’s slow movements. It’s exasperating, considering that melee encounters persist throughout the entire game, right up to the climax. In summary, the melee combat feels remarkably cumbersome.
You also receive a tool called the GRP, a glove enabling you to pull and push objects. While handy for bringing otherwise out-of-reach items closer, the GRP is primarily employed to shove enemies into conveniently placed spiked walls scattered throughout the environments. I found this mechanic practical, particularly when surrounded by hordes of foes. However, its usefulness is confined to combat, as the game lacks any puzzle elements.
Callisto Protocol Metacritic: Visuals and sound
While The Callisto Protocol exhibits noticeable flaws, its presentation stands out as a strong suit. Undoubtedly, it ranks among the most visually stunning games of 2022. The environments and characters boast an alarming level of detail, lending them a sense of realism. Whether navigating the dark halls of Black Iron or trudging through Callisto’s snow-covered wastes, each setting evokes a genuinely frightening atmosphere, thanks to clever lighting and particle effects.
The game’s sound design is equally remarkable, complementing the impressive graphics. The unsettling sounds of agonized groans and industrial machinery constantly keep you on edge and attentive. It’s advisable to use one of the best gaming headsets while playing The Callisto Protocol to enhance your immersion.
The Callisto Protocol isn’t a terrible game. It boasts a cool sci-fi backdrop, impressive graphics, and a somewhat engaging mystery plot. However, its vexing melee combat, lack of enemy variety, and linear design might alienate many players (no pun intended). It falls short of fully succeeding as a spiritual successor to Dead Space, lacking the same level of fear and well-crafted structure. Surprisingly, the game didn’t manage to scare me at any point. In the realm of survival/horror, a lack of fear is a significant issue.
The future of The Callisto Protocol remains uncertain. Although the ending hints at potential sequels, Striking Distance Studios’ debut title hasn’t instilled much confidence in the likelihood of further installments.
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