Scars Above Hands-On Preview - Take 2
Tomb Raider, but in space. That’s how Mad Head Games and Prime Matter’s new third person shooter has been associated in the minds of players, and now, having spent a few houes with Scars Above, I can certainly see some of the points of comparison, but I can also see the points where the game deviates from the formula as well.
Scars Above is a science fiction third person action title where you, Dr Kate Ward, and your team have landed on a mysterious planet littered with threats both physical and psychological, and hav to desperately fight to survive. As your ship seemed to be caught in the gravity well of a strange space-bound object called the Metahedron, Ward started having flashes in her mind, of things she had never before seen, but now, having been thrown across space by the Metahedron to an unidentified planet in the galaxy, she’s continually taunted by the visions that have now infiltrated her mind. Now it’s up to Ward to identify where the remainder of the crew has gone, and a way off this planet.
Gameplay is the largely standard fare for games of the genre. Ward is armed with a melee weapon that closely resembles a machette, while she also totes a most impressive gun that channels the strengths of electicity, ice, and fire elements that you can then turn on your enemy threats of use in a variety of different ways, more than the standard fare, to navigate the environment. The combat encounters have been quite well designed largely, though there were a few moments where multiple enemies backed me into a corner and the game’s fairly rigid collision systems stopped me from escaping the space leading to an immediately frustrating death. Semi-regular, but not excessive save points are scattered around the world for players to use as checkpoints and respawn locations after death, but for those finding the going tough, it must be also considered that interacting with a save point causes all defeated enemies to respawn as well. There are some light crafting systems in play as well, but in the time that I spent with the game I largely felt like they were unnecessary, and as long as you foraged for some environmental ammo then you were never going to be too strained when it comes to having what you need for the next blistering encounter.
I mentioned the rigid collision earlier, and it is representative of the one main problem I’ve got with the game so far – it just feels a bit clunky. Environments have clearly embedded invisible walls in them despite them looking quite easily traversed, and the collision with enemies as well as other parts of the environment can be quite frustrating leading to being caught in tough spaces, that can result in either minor annoyance if it’s just an environmental snag to navigate, but an extremely frustrating death if it’s an environmental snag coupled with enemies that you cannot push through.
The environments themselves have been well designed, and fit the mysterious isolated planet vibe well, the musical accompaniment hasn’t exactly jumped out at me yet though, and the voice-acting was fairly by the numbers, despite not being bad per se.
There are plenty of things to like about Scars Above at this point, but with a February 28, 2023 release date looming large, I sit here hoping that the rough, blocky edges can be filed down across the next couple of months to take the game from a title with unfulfilled potential, to something that could genuinely win some hearts.