The Callisto Protocol Review: Frustrating Rather Than Scary.

Dead Space is one of the most renowned survival horror games of all time.
So, when a supposed spiritual successor, The Callisto Protocol was announced, many gamers, including myself, were excited.
Directed by Glen Schofield, one of the minds behind Dead Space, The Callisto Protocol has you playing as Jacob Lee (Josh Duhamel), a cargo transporter taking medical supplies to the moon called Callisto, where the Black Iron Prison is located.
After his ship is nearly hijacked by a group of terrorists called the Outer Way, led by Dani Nakamura (Karen Fukuhara), Jacob crash lands on Callisto.
He and Dani are then imprisoned in Callisto by the nefarious warden, Duncan Cole (James C. Mathais III), and prison guard, Leon Ferris (Sam Witwer).
However, at the exact same time, a zombie virus known as the Biophage begins ravaging the prison, turning both prisoners and guards alike into undead monsters.
Left with no other choice, Jacob and Dani have to work together if they want to escape, alongside another prisoner named Elias Porter (Zeke Alton).

Jacob and Dani have to put aside their differences to survive the horrors of Callisto.

The story of The Callisto Protocol is fine.
It is incredibly predictable and does absolutely nothing new.
I feel the same way about the characters.
I did not hate them but neither did I love them.
They were all just okay.
But this is a video game so the story and characters do not have to shine so long as the gameplay is great.
Well, unfortunately, this is where The Callisto Protocol mostly falters.
Since The Callisto Protocol was supposed to be a spiritual successor to Dead Space, not exactly like it, the developers had to make the Biophages different from the Necromorphs.
So no shooting the limbs to kill them.
Instead, they added two features to make Biophages stand apart from Dead Space’s iconic enemies.
The first of these is the combat, which is melee focused instead of gun focused.
The second is the Biophage’s tentacles, which, if you do not shoot, will cause them to mutate into a stronger enemy.

A mutated Biophage is much, much stronger than a regular one.

Sad to say, both of these gameplay features do not really work out in the long run.
The Biophages mutation process is interesting and fun to play around the first few times it happens but you will quickly notice that the mutations all look and fight exactly the same with no differentiation.
Likewise, the enemy variety is quite lacking in The Callisto Protocol, with there being about six or so different enemy types and at least three of them, just like the mutations, look and fight mostly the same.
The problems with the melee combat are far worse, though.
Credit where it is due, the dodging mechanic is pretty fun when you are fighting one or two enemies.
However, all of this falls apart when you inevitably get surrounded.
The camera view in The Callisto Protocol is quite limited, with it being focused over Jacob’s shoulder.
Thus, when you are swarmed by Biophages, it is incredibly easy for the ones behind you to attack Jacob without you even seeing them.
What makes this worse is that Jacob often seems to target whichever Biophage is closest in this swarm so the camera will constantly be flying around while he is trying to hit enemies.
With all of this and the Biophages running around the screen, the combat is so chaotic that is becomes incredibly difficult to tell what is happening and whether you should be dodging or attacking.
You cannot switch to shooting enemies either because that often does so little damage, and attempting to use the grip in this melee will just result in getting hit.
Add the constantly mutating Biophages and you end up with a combat system that results in a lot of deaths, which is highly frustrating.

Prepare to die a lot in The Callisto Protocol when you get surrounded and cannot see what is happening.

That is the word I would use to describe The Callisto Protocol: Frustrating, not scary.
The marketing talked big about how scary this game would be but this was so often not the case.
For example, I never once jumped at a jumpscare because of how highly telegraphed they all were, especially in cutscenes.
There are admittedly a few creepy moments, like one combat encounter when some Biophages hide in the trees, and when you first fight some blind enemies.
However, the creep factor for that latter encounter is completely wrecked by a whole bunch of cognitive dissonance.
You are supposed to stay completely silent when killing the Blind so you don’t get surrounded but Jacob has such a loud stealth attack that it should alert them to his location.
Yet, it does not. 

The Blind are creepy, until you realize you can just loudly stealth kill them with no consequence.

The gameplay of Callisto Protocol just has a lot of issues, including its checkpoint system, which often loads you in before you did your upgrades, the extreme linearity of the levels, and the final boss, which has a massive and unfair difficulty spike.   
Also, you should probably not buy this game on PC because it apparently has a lot of stuttering issues.
I bought the game on PS5 and it ran smoothly throughout.
I know I have been criticizing The Callisto Protocol a lot but I do want to end on some positives.
Like I said, despite its many issues, the combat is pretty good when you are only fighting a few Biophages.
The grip in particular is a lot of fun, as you can use it to throw enemies into spikes, impaling them.
Speaking of impalement, Jacob has a lot of gory deaths, which are awesome to see.
Granted, these drawn out deaths do become frustrating when you die over and over again but they are still done well.
The biggest compliment I can give The Callisto Protocol, though, is its graphics.
The photo realism in this game is absolutely incredible, especially when it comes to the characters’ facial animations.
They not only look exceptional in cutscenes but outside of them as well.
I remember just stopping Jacob a few times and turning the camera to look at his face and marveling at the level of detail. 

This is the kind of quality you can expect to see throughout the game.

In my opinion, The Callisto Protocol is definitely the best looking PlayStation game we have got so far.
Does this make it worth a buy, though?
Well, certainly not at full price with the many, many issues this game has.
The Callisto Protocol wanted to be a spiritual successor to Dead Space but it failed to live up to those expectations, presenting a game with a generic story and characters, along with incredibly frustrating combat that is rarely scary, despite this being a survival horror game.
Unfortunately for The Callisto Protocol, I think when the Dead Space remake drops in January 2023, we will quickly see its sails dip. 

A Plague Tale: Requiem Review: More Rats, More Tragedy.

A few months back, I finally managed to get my hands on a PlayStation 5, and the first game I bought to play on the console was A Plague Tale: Innocence.
I had been interested in playing it for a while and since its sequel, A Plague Tale: Requiem was coming out soon, I decided for it to be the first game I would play on the PS5.
Overall, I really enjoyed Innocence.
Sure, plenty of its mechanics seemed pretty dated, with the enemy AI in particular being quite stupid, but the game came from a smaller studio which still managed to make the game fun, despite its limitations, and create an interesting story with compelling characters to follow. 

Innocence was a lot of fun, despite its limitations.

Over three years from that game’s release, the sequel, Requiem, has been released and, after playing it, I can say that it improves on its predecessor in a lot of ways.
The story is still set in Medieval France and once again follows Amicia (Charlotte McBurney), her little brother Hugo (Logan Hannan), their mother Beatice (Lucy Briggs-Owen), and young alchemist Lucas (Kit Connor), after supposedly stopping the Rat Plague in the previous game.
However, after multiple incidents, the Macula in Hugo’s blood begins to awaken again, plunging the country into an even larger rat infestation.
Desperate to protect her little brother, Amicia decides to take Hugo to a mysterious island he dreams of, in the hopes that there is a means to cure his affliction there, meeting another cast of compelling characters along the way, like Arnaud (Harry Myres) and Sophia (Ellie Haydon).

The cast of Requiem is just as compelling as Innocence.

The story of A Plague Tale: Requiem is another good one, with plenty of standout moments for almost every character.
I do wish that Melie from the first game had returned but the rest of the cast is just as interesting.
Chief among these characters is Amicia, whose journey to protect her brother is very compelling and results in a lot of tragedy along the way.
There is one moment in this game that actually had me tearing up and Asobo Studio did an excellent job at pulling on our heart strings.

There are a lot of tragic moments in Requiem, from beginning to end.

Another thing they did a great job at was improving the gameplay from the first one.
As I said earlier, the enemy AI in Innocence was quite poor.
You could literally just walk into a bush after being spotted and the enemy would instantly lose sight of you.
In comparison, the AI of Requiem is much better, along with the stealth mechanics.
Now, if you are caught, you don’t instantly die, and you also have a lot of new opportunities for stealth kills, like with the crossbow, which you can level up along with other mechanics.
You can even use Hugo’s ability to control the rats a lot more, which is fun to use.
Speaking of the rats, though, holy hell are there a lot of them in this game.
There are quite a few chase scenes with swarms of rats that number in the thousands if not millions. 

The rat chases are always intense.

It is amazing what Asobo Studio was about to achieve with the graphics of the rats.
The quality in graphics extends to the environment as well, both in beautiful and disgusting ways.
There were many times I stopped to look at the beauty of the world Amicia and Hugo were standing in, and there were even some times when I felt like I wanted to hurl when looking at the disgusting graphics of Amicia struggling through a river filled with rotting, fly-ridden corpses.
So, there were quite a few gameplay improvements with Requiem, although not everything is stellar.
Due to the limited combat mechanics, the numerous segments where waves of enemies were sent Amicia’s way felt very tedious. 

The set pieces where you are forced into combat do feel a bit out of place at times,

At least it was not as bad as in Innocence, where the sling sometimes felt broken, often leading to an instant death way too many times.
Despite this, and a few other mechanical issues, I would say that Requiem is an enjoyable game and a more than worthy sequel to Innocence.
It improves the gameplay in numerous ways and provides a story that is both tragic and beautiful.
I looked forward to seeing what Asobo Studio does next.