Is it just us, or are games getting scarier in recent years? Gone are the days when everything was 2D and mercifully pixelated. New levels of realism mean more intense frights and a million more gruesome ways to snuff it. Now, Dead Space’s spiritual successor – a much-anticipated horror title, called The Callisto Protocol – has turned up to raise the fear factor again. It’s another one of those challenge-plays, from developer Striking Distance Studios, which will leave you clutching your controller in very sweaty palms.
Welcome To Jupiter’s Prison Moon
Visually akin to Dead Space (released by Visceral Games in 2008) in all the best ways, this new release will serve up some truly chilling sequences, with the advent of new-gen graphical advancements and improved sound design. Survival horror never looked, or felt, so believable. Shadows and lighting catch the eye with flickers of imagined adversity. Ambient noise keeps you permanently on edge as well – beware those sweaty palms! The result is a game that plays more like an effort in survival, marooned on Jupiter’s dead moon, in futuristic corridors and nooks, which Ridley Scott taught us all to fear so well. With a name like Black Iron Prison, you can expect the setting for your third-person scramble to be a perfect accompaniment to tentacled gore and unlit sci-fi grunge.
What We Know So far
The game will be released in December, so a lot of what we can discuss is speculation inspired by gameplay snippets, fresh from the Striking Distance creative team. The first trailer was released back in June at Sony’s State of Play, after years of being toyed with by creative director, Glen Schofield. The original creator seems to have preserved a lot of what gripped fans with Dead Space on the Xbox 360, namely the use of imperfect vision, natural lighting, confined spaces and genuinely terrifying enemies. We’re in for another hellish ride, transfixed by slow-building tension on atmospheric levels and skeletal rooms in desperate need of a lick of paint and a good plumber.
You’ll be able to hack, dismember and blow up your enemies, wielding all the best lay-around bludgeon tools and a gravity gun too, which will lend itself to a few floaty combos. The emphasis seems to be on bullet conservation and gut-wrenching melee combat. And again, you will feel the weight of your character and the expense of exertion as you wade through waves of mutants.
Set in the not-so-distant year of 2030, there’s going to be a lot to fear as you fall into this chaotic storyline. We’ve heard the combat definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, but the new-gen survival game accommodates different styles of play as well. You can carefully stealth your way through levels, or you can plunge right into the combat system and dine heartily on skill tree upgrades. While the newly introduced gravity gun will also allow gamers to get creative, using enemies as shields, or flinging them headlong into industrial fans.
In short, you’re entering what developers described as the most hostile environment in the universe. Locked into the limited abilities of Jacob Lee – Black Iron Prison inmate turned overall-wrapped snack – you’ll have to claw, gnaw and sprint with everything your thumbs can muster. It’s likely you’ll uncover some dark secrets about the United Jupiter Company and the creatures that hunt in their station. With a little luck, you might just make it out of this 12-to-14 hour single-player story intact. Then there’s the option to play again, and seek out what Schofield described as ‘beta paths’, uncovering other narrative routes to the gnarly finish.
The Callisto Protocol is set for worldwide release on December 2, 2022. It will be available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and Xbox One…