After an exciting incident, the astronaut Jacob, the hero of our game, is arrested and sent to the Black Iron prison, the prison that humans set up on the moon Callisto to spend the rest of his life there, and there, our adventure begins when Jacob encounters the mutated creatures in This prison, which has turned into a disaster area for unknown reasons. The prison seems like a really perfect setting for a horror game, which finally saw designer Glen Schofield return to the genre after a long absence. However, The Callisto Protocol, in the end, wasn’t quite the game we had imagined.
The Callisto Protocol worked on the famous designer Glen Schofield, former creator of the Dead Space series, and it is clear that he is a fan of horror films and science fiction that spread in the eighties and the beginning of the nineties, and is passionate about them, as well as other horror games as well, whose inspirations appear in the vast corners of Callisto. Striking Distance Studios’ rookie development team includes a wealth of talent from Visceral, including Steve Papoutsis who designed Dead Space alongside Glenn, Scott Whitney, one of its designers, and former art director Christopher Stone. The nucleus of the team that worked on this game, in general, is the same that worked on that great one.
After an exciting incident at the beginning of the game and a dispute with an unidentified girl, Jacob is arrested and sent to Callisto, the second largest moon of Jupiter, although he appears to have committed no crime. There, Jacob discovers the disaster that occurred in the place, and how everyone in it turned into a frightening being, and the player must control Jacob and try to escape from the “black metal” prison, which has turned into hell. The first half of the game does not reveal much, but facts and mysteries surface little by little, in the second half of the game. The developers of Striking Distance have taken the story seriously, put a lot of effort into it, and built it in a believable way.
Contributing to this, too, is the extremely advanced, even amazing, level of character modeling that is frighteningly close to reality; The skin and pores of the hair on it, the features and facial expressions, the folds of the clothes, the sweat, the hair follicles on Jacob’s head, details that you have to see for yourself to believe, especially for the PC version that we tested with the RTX 4080 graphics card at the highest settings and in 4K resolution with performance exceeding 60 frames. The excellent graphic performance, with motion capture techniques, contributed to the required realism that the designers wanted in the story, which we believe was satisfactory, but of course, it will not be the main reason that might drive players to buy this game, and thus we move on to talking about the gameplay .
The gameplay is what surprised us the most about this game, and we don’t mean that in a positive way necessarily, and it reminds us very much of the game Resident Evil 6, not because it is similar to it in mechanics, but because it is similar to it in its design philosophy that is out of the ordinary, which encourages the player to play In a certain and specific way, and this method depends on avoiding enemy strikes by means of the analog stick, and then directing the blows to the converted enemy with the stick, which leads to the appearance of an automatic crosshair on the enemy for a very short period of time, and when you shoot and hit him, you will be able to follow that with a hand strike other. Correct and sequential execution of strikes allows to completely finish off the enemy.
This looks good on paper, but it gets boring and repetitive with time, especially since the weapons during the first half of the game are very limited. In the second half, despite obtaining a greater number of weapons, we do not get more diversification in the gameplay, the idea in essence remains the same, and the worst thing is that the combat system does not work well when a group of creatures attacks you, which may cause cheap losses, Creatures can attack you while you are engaged in directing successive blows to another enemy, and they can kill you in a blink of an eye without being able to do anything, especially since the game does not provide real and effective solutions to confront groups other than trying to lure enemies in some way or take advantage of the environment to get rid of them. The combat system works well in one-on-one confrontations, but it doesn’t really work when facing hordes of enemies, and the second half of the game is full of these team confrontations, which reduces the value of the game as a whole in our view, there are a lot of provocative moments caused by this strange gameplay system.
The Striking Distance development team is really talented, and has delivered on its promise of introducing enemies that mutate in real time if you haven’t eliminated them before then, which is reminiscent of the villagers in Capcom’s immortal legend Resident Evil 4, who were going through similar stages of transformation, and the player can also take advantage of the environment Through Jacob’s arm, which gains the ability to attract enemies and then throw them in different directions, and throwing them over metal bars will lead to direct death, but the game is not really scary, and it offers a lot and a lot of action, and a few terrifying situations, and we do not hide you saying that we expected horror Bigger than the developers of Dead Space. In any case, the game allows the development of weapons through the cash that you will collect during the game, and we advise you to focus on specific weapons and their capabilities.
Also, players can trample on the corpses of mutated enemies similar to some Silent Hill games to get extra items like ammo or heal, which is very useful especially when resources are scarce. The cure can be used via the main menu, and Jacob will inject himself with the needle and empty its contents into his veins to fill the green elixir of life above his neck again. There is a special system for machining enemies and cutting off their bodies, such as arms or heads, and they will attack you even with a severed head! Smashing the arm reduces the enemy’s ability to deliver chain strikes to Jacob… Jacob, himself too, can take similar damage in the same way, and you’ll see his flesh and bone and innards disgustingly, a lot.
The Callisto Protocol is a game that responds to the demands of players regarding the current trend of the gaming world, as it is linear in nature and is based on moving forward without going back, and it offers the element of exploration using branching roads, without guiding the player to it, but this means that the player also, may Some of these contents unintentionally bypass if he heads to the main road. The Callisto Protocol does not contain actual puzzles, all the player has to do to progress is to open the locked doors, find the encrypted keys, or the fuse. Yes, this game is primarily an action game, and again it reminds us a lot of the Resident Evil action games.
As we mentioned, The Callisto Protocol is one of the best games graphically and on all devices, besides the characters, the environment in turn is very elaborate in terms of materials, minerals, and the effects of the dancing flames and the destruction that surrounded the place. The lighting is some of the best in the gaming world with artificial light sources, pulsating red lights and alarms. The game supports ray tracing effects, but unfortunately the performance collapses when activated, regardless of the graphics card, simply because the game is designed on the Unreal 4 engine and has not been customized to take advantage of the multiplicity of cores in central processors, as it is based on only a few cores and depends on The speed of one core is greater than that, and thus the additional graphic load resulting from the activation of the technology is not distributed to the cores of the central processor. Performance drops well below 60 frames although the GPU Utilization never reaches 100% or even 90%, so we had to turn off the ray tracing options to enjoy the game. We ran into the same issue this year with Ghostwire Tokyo.
Performance suffered a lot from stutters when the game was initially released on the PC, and it is a curse that accompanies a huge number of games since the release of DirectX 12 from Microsoft, which gave greater freedom to programmers in customizing performance, but the updates that I got solved These problems are significant, as the game is now compiling shaders from the beginning, not during play. At the moment the game performance is stable. With regard to the audio performance, it is another strong point for this game as expected, with support for ambient sounds, but the music is forgettable, and it suffices with the role of “extras” in the game, without adding anything, and we are not a fan of this trend at all.
Huge effort went into designing The Callisto Protocol, and it heralds the birth of a studio that would be one of the giants of the industry in the future, and we regret that the design decisions that went behind the gameplay led to so much confusion in the confrontations. Video games remain an interactive medium in the first place, and whatever effort is made in other aspects, the level of this interaction between the player and the game, and its response to what the player thinks and wants to do, is the first measure of the level of the experience as a whole. The Callisto Protocol is a really great game, and we can recommend it to fans of this genre with a clear conscience, but it’s not the horror game we’d dream of.