Scars Above: Hands-on Preview
Up until now, I didn’t know much about the upcoming action title Scars Above. I’d seen a couple of trailers, dug the aesthetic and thought it might be worth checking out, but to be honest, it wasn’t exactly super high on my most wanted list. But thanks to the recent Plaion event held in Sydney, I have gone hands-on with the game and come away thoroughly intrigued. Could this be the start of a beautiful new franchise?
For those that haven’t heard about Scars Above, it is a new 3rd person action title from Mad Head Games. Set on a random planet after an emergency landing, the lead character, Dr Kate Ward (aka Space Lara) wakes up from a coma to find her crew missing and a hostile environment causing all sorts of issues. It is up to Dr Ward to solve the mystery of the planet, find her crew and shoot a bunch of nasty aliens in the process.
As far as game backgrounds go, it is an oldie but a goody. A weird and wonderful sci/fi setting is always a great place to play in and this world looks to be exactly that. The gameplay itself is a bit of a mishmash, with parts of Tomb Raider, Returnal and Dark Souls all coming together to create something that feels both unique and familiar. From my time with the demo, it feels like exploration and examination of the environment is going to play a huge part in the game, with the ability to scan local flora and convert it to ammunition for the good Doctor’s weapons. This inquisitive nature carries through to the story, with some Arkham City-like investigations that push the story forward and help to solve the planet’s many mysteries.
The combat is where things head towards Soulsborne territory, though with a focus on ranged weaponry as opposed to melee-based battles. There is a real emphasis here on using the right tool for the right job, with Dr Ward’s range of elemental weapons being paired with enemy weaknesses that are easily identified thanks to smart visual clues on both the monster in question and the environment. For example, using electric weaponry is a smart move for a nasty snake-like creature that lives in a swamp and the damage-over-time effect of fire is the perfect antidote to slow, yet durable, rock creatures. It is nothing we haven’t seen done before, but it is done well and makes perfect sense in the world the devs have created.
From my time with the game, it is clear there is a pretty deep story or at least a tonne of lore to dive into and that is fine with me. The key to a game like this is to build a world that begs to be explored and examined, both story and lore are the perfect tools to encourage that. I am thoroughly intrigued as to what is going on and even though I have only played a small snippet, I am invested in finding out what is happening in this strange world.
From my brief time with the game, I can safely say that Scars Above is shaping up nicely. The world and combat have me looking forward to the full title and I am now quite confident that the game will turn out to be a solid experience at the minimum and potentially even a fantastic one. I think this one has flown under the radar for a lot of people (I know it has for me) but I want to tell you all, keep an eye on it. It could be a real surprise hit when it launches sometime in 2023.