The Callisto Protocol is a game which I had built up quite a lot in my own head before playing it. The fact that this game is somewhat of a spiritual successor to Dead Space, (one of my favourite games of all time,) meant that The Callisto Protocol had some pretty high standards to live up to and I am thrilled to report that it met every single one of those lofty expectations and then some.
Not only did The Callisto Protocol manage to tick all of the boxes which I am looking for a third person action/horror game to tick, it completely surpassed that criteria and managed to keep me gripped and invested for the entirety of its runtime. There wasn’t a single aspect of this title which I felt was subpar, instead The Callisto Protocol exceeded my expectations at every turn.
The thing which immediately struck me upon booting up the game for the first time, was the level of detail in the visuals. Every environment feels lived in, every scene of brutal violence has a realistic weight to it and the specific emotion felt by each individual character is instantly obvious due to the photorealistic quality of the game’s character models and textures, as well as the subtle organic animation techniques used.
The high bar of quality set by the game’s visuals thankfully carries over into the gameplay in The Callisto Protocol. The gameplay loop will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has played Dead Space, complete with blowing limbs off of enemies and stomping heads in order to ensure that whatever monstrosity that you just put down isn’t getting back up.
Although Dead Space has clearly been used as the blueprint for this title’s gameplay, that does not mean that there haven’t been any improvements. The shooting mechanics in here feel tighter than they ever did in Dead Space and thus, they require more precision from the player. This tight control scheme paired with the game’s cool 3D-printed upgrade system makes the gunplay a ton of fun.
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The Callisto Protocol also focuses more on melee combat than Dead Space did. The decision to focus on this alternate form of combat gives players options on how to approach each situation. Most of the time, melee combat is just as viable of an approach as ranged fighting is. Additionally, the telekinesis glove attained by the player early on in the campaign allows for some fun environmental kills and also opens the door for some light puzzle solving.
The other thing which The Callisto Protocol manages to nail for the game’s duration is the thick, tense atmosphere, inducing an unshakable paranoia that a mutated monstrosity is waiting to kill you around every corner. The game manages to achieve a truly palpable sense of unrelenting dread, leading to some properly heart-pounding moments.
Additionally, the game also distances itself from its Dead Space roots through its action set pieces. For sure, there were a handful of these in the Dead Space games; particularly in the third entry. However, some of the set pieces in The Callisto Protocol feel more akin to those seen in the Uncharted franchise, such as a combat sequence taking place on top of a moving freighter, as well as an extended waterslide sequence.
Classic space horror stories such as The Thing and Alien also serve as a clear inspiration here. The feelings of distrust and isolation that both of those influences recall has been channelled into The Callisto Protocol’s characters and story beats. The solid cast of talent who star in the game also do a great job of selling the well-written material which they have been given to work with.
Looking back, the only criticism of The Callisto Protocol that I can fathom is that it may be a little too similar to Dead Space. However, you have to ask yourself whether using one of the greatest action/horror games of all time as a foundation to build a new series on, – whilst expanding and iterating on that established formula, – is really a bad thing.
If you are a fan of Dead Space, Resident Evil, or Alien Isolation, or even if you just thought that the trailer for this thing looked cool, then I would highly recommend this experience. A new bar has been set for third person space horror by The Callisto Protocol and the Dead Space remake coming from EA Motive in January will have to be truly impressive to compete with this stellar title.
The Callisto Protocol – 10/10
The Callisto Protocol was reviewed on PS5 with a code supplied by Indigo Pearl.