This intense and bloody horror game is old fashioned but fun

This intense and bloody horror game is old fashioned but fun

The Callisto Protocol, technically a spiritual successor to the sci-fi survival horror series, recreates the haunting, blood-soaked hallways and zombie-killing fiesta.

Characterizing the first established zombie game at USG Ishimura back in 2008, it injects death with more awe than ever before, due to some of the strikingly detailed splatters of blood and guts.

While the mutant element has never been more alive, the Callisto Protocol has its own flaws that are just as apparent. Some of those shortcomings are occasional control issues, unbalanced combat, and a general absence of innovation, resulting in a gleefully gruesome and roughly eight-hour massacre, but never as big as the series that inspired it. Let’s take a deep dive into the highly anticipated The Callisto Protocol walkthrough.

Action

On the moon of Callisto, a disaster has struck the Black Iron Prison facility. The convicts are rebellious; they have been infected by a mysterious virus that has mutated them all into twisted, venomous avengers.

The infected prisoners have escaped their cells and are causing a riot. It’s up to wrongfully imprisoned cargo pilot, Jacob Lee, to find the root of the evil. He must find a way to get away from the prison planet, undergo a claustrophobic traversal through an exceptionally well-realized facility in ruins and overrun by moon-based lunatics, and set things right.

What follows is a fairly linear gauntlet, but thankfully developer team Striking Distance Studios have proven to be masterful creators of creepy corridors. No two passengers are ever the same, and each area takes on its own sense of place, from the maintenance room decorated with dangling corpses that look like prison guard pinatas, to the frosted facilities located outside the prison walls.

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Retreaded space

The Callisto Protocol is, in all respects but name, a Dead Space game, with Striking Distance Studios led by Dead Space co-creator Glen Schofield. So much is the same, even the nicely minimalistic HUD that is Jacob’s health bar inserted into his neck like a phone battery indicator.

From the combat system that relies heavily on a battery-powered telekinesis ability that lets you throw objects around with a flick of Jakob’s wrist, to stomping on crates and corpses to uncover precious resources. It’s also the gimmick of a mysterious religious cult somehow involved in the outbreak and giving instructions on how to kill enemies, leaving blood smeared on the walls.

One of the differences that stands out is introducing Isaac Clarke’s stasis ability and replacing his collection of weaponized mining tools with a more conventional arsenal of pistols and shotguns.

The game otherwise feels very familiar to Dead Space, as it created a campaign that was heavy on sensational jump scares, but light on any big story or gameplay surprises. The biggest departure The Callisto Protocol makes from Dead Space’s terror-driven template is its increased emphasis on melee combat.

Weapons and ammo are initially scarce, with dispatching each snarling, zombie-ridden cellmate requiring you to lure them into uncomfortable proximity, sway out of the way of their claw attacks, and then counter with a flurry of blows from Jakob’s stun baton, like a cop who swings the baton. The thumb-based dodging and blocking of incoming attacks feels a bit like ducking and weaving in a boxing game.

Melee happens to be a smart way to conserve ammo as each successful combo string you land opens up a short window to perform a “skill shot”, allowing you to automatically lock onto a weak point with your firearm and down them in a few frames in instead of an entire clip. The choice between risk and reward is satisfying after being involved in getting up close rather than trying to pick off enemies from a safer way.

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Gameplay

Basically, there are no game mechanics or references that make Jacob’s background as a pilot relevant, as he has to physically fly to get out of the lunar prison. It’s mildly important to the plot, but he could have been a ballet dancer and it wouldn’t have changed the game at all.

You’d think being put in a space prison would also be a ripe opportunity to add little mini-games involving hacking or perhaps a deeper exploration of imprisonment, but none of this exists.

Combat is really the game’s only innovation. After getting familiar with the tutorial, players are introduced to Callisto’s triad of weapons: long-range weapons, the baton of stun, and the GRP, a telekinetic magic gauntlet that allows Jacob to pull enemies closer, hurl chunks of nature at them, or throw them at one of the aforementioned spiked walls for an instant kill.

The idea is pretty simple, Jacob slings and punches his way through the space prison, lifting enemies into the air with his Jedi gauntlet and cannonballing them into the spinning teeth of a floor-to-ceiling chipper. He also has to face the boss monsters.

In gameplay terms, the boss monsters only differ in the number of bullets they can absorb, and their attacks all kill you in one hit. Put one foot wrong, and you lose your foot – or your foot may be all that’s left of you, depending on which gruesome movie scene you’ve triggered. In the second half of the game, there is a dramatic increase in difficulty, which contributes to the feeling that this game may have been completed in a bit of a hurry.

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Graphics

Visually, The Callisto Protocol is an impressive remake of Dead Space. The incredibly lifelike visuals make every space zombie look excruciatingly gruesome, especially when you beat them to death with a metal rod and watch the blood fly. Some of the death animations are downright disturbing.

The developers have played with techniques such as low lighting, fog and even snowstorms to hide the fear and make the jumps hit even harder. The 3D sound was also far too real, hearing zombies sliding around in the vents can set the senses in motion.

While the eight-hour runtime feels about right in terms of pacing, there’s very little to do in The Callisto Protocol after you beat the story. However, a New Game+ mode is apparently coming via a free patch at a later date.

But for now, there aren’t any interesting unlockables to speak of that might encourage repeat playthroughs, or other alternate modes to try, making the overall package at launch feel almost as slim as a prison cell mattress.

But the final verdict, The Callisto Protocol happens to be a mix of horror, action and immersive storytelling, the game aims to set a new bar for horror in interactive entertainment.

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