The Callisto Protocol Review – In Space No One Can See You Dodge
The Callisto Protocol is the first significant current-generation release that is both visually and technically stunning. It comes from Striking Distance Studios, a new development team led by industry veteran Glen Schofield. The game debuts right before the impending Dead Space Remake and aspires to be another survival horror-centered sci-fi IP. Does it come near to its ambitions and the inspired series? Getting close, but not quite there yet.
The Callisto Protocol is one of the most visually appealing games I’ve seen this year. It easily competes with Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok, both of which are similarly spectacular. It has a slew of sophisticated visual effects, including ray-tracing capabilities for the PS5. Reflections and enhanced shadows significantly improve the mood and overall ambiance of the game. However, the graphic excellence isn’t fully reflected in the gameplay.
I was completely absorbed in The Callisto Protocol from the start. I’ve always been a fan of the survival horror genre, and it was incredible to see a company tackle such a high-budget product, even as a spiritual successor to Dead Space. The game lives up to the expectations, and while the story has issues, it’s the combat that holds it back. The game design, on the other hand, is not only visually stunning but also a touch old-school in that there is no player assistance.
It’s evident from playing the game that the publisher didn’t skimp on anything. It has a high-profile Hollywood cast for a video game, including Josh Duhamel, Sam Witwer, and Karen Fukuhara, among others. These actors were motion-captured to provide their likeness in the game. For every action in the game, there are several cutscenes and visually stunning animations. None of this comes cheap.
The Callisto Protocol takes place in the far future. The game stars Josh Duhamel as Jacob Lee, a ship captain on a mission to transfer cargo to Europa from the “dead moon” Callisto’s Black Iron Prison. They are quickly trapped in a quagmire, however, when their ship is overtaken by The Outer Way, a terrorist group responsible for some of the bio attacks on humans. Its leader is Dani Nakamura, who is played by Karen Fukuhara from The Boys. This causes the ship to crash land on Callisto, and Jacob and Dani, the sole survivors, are taken alive to the Black Iron Prison and imprisoned as inmates. The game begins with Jacob awakening as a convict with the Black Iron Prison in complete disarray due to an outbreak.
The Callisto Protocol includes some beautiful set pieces that complement its story, such as the prologue, but it is primarily a linear game with some open-ended design. There is no map or other UI components on the screen, however, the game does toss tutorials at random to explain some of its features. As a result, the player must deduce their objectives based on visual cues and the layout of the levels, which I believe is beautifully done. Exploration is rewarded with perks such as health supplies or Callisto Credits, a currency. It is frequently beneficial to deviate from the main path since there is usually something to offer.
The Callisto Protocol’s level design was fantastic, not to mention the stunning graphics. However, the gameplay, particularly the combat, feels a little underwhelming. The player’s only weapon option at the beginning is a melee weapon. It also has a dodge feature similar to that of a boxing game. You move the analog stick left or right by timing it with enemy attacks or simply holding it. Simply hit back with the weapon after evading the attacks. This is entertaining the first few times, but it quickly becomes monotonous. Thankfully, the game constantly throws new weaponry into the mix, which helps to alleviate some of the combat repetition.
The combat becomes more open when other weapons, such as a gravity glove and a shotgun, become accessible; nevertheless, due to a scarcity of ammo, most encounters will still rely on your melee dodging abilities. I admire how the devs opted to create their combat system instead of reusing one from another game, such as Dead Space. However, it is far from faultless, with some evident defects such as repetition. As the game is full of traps that may be employed against enemies, the gravity glove does result in some spectacular death animations.
The Callisto Protocol also incorporates stealth into its gameplay. Because confronting an enemy head-on is not always advised, Jacob must choose the stealth option, as a swarm of enemies may swiftly kill him. This results in some truly disturbing animations of Jacob being killed. It’s also great to observe the attention to detail here as Jacob becomes saturated in blood as he faces more enemies. While The Callisto Protocol’s melee combat works well in one-on-one battles, it is a terrible experience among a group of enemies. Because there is no easy method to avoid multiple attacks, I am sure that virtually everyone will die at some time if they are attacked by many enemies.
The game also stands out for its inventive use of audio. DualSense allows you to hear radio chatter and audio logs. The game uses sound to induce scares, but my primary concern with The Callisto Protocol was a lack of suspense. It never seems like a true horror game, despite its attempts to promote itself as one. This is not to say that the game is bad; except for the issues mentioned above, I found it pretty enjoyable to play.
Overall, I would strongly advise anyone who enjoyed the Dead Space series to purchase The Callisto Protocol. While this title may lack suspense or fear factor in the survival horror genre, it is nonetheless a worthwhile release with some fascinating lore and superb production quality that we have seldom seen for a game in this genre.
The Callisto Protocol Game Information
- Price: $69.99
- Publisher: Krafton
- Developer: Striking Distance Studios
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher