It's such a testament to how much gaming has changed in the last 15 years that I would call Callisto Protocol a throwback to the past. While third-person horror games are the technology hub that pushes my Xbox Series X to the limit, they take me back to a much simpler time, back to the days of vast open worlds and complex storytelling. When I play, I'm transported back to the days of the Xbox 360, when the best games were eight-hour single-player adventures and video game storytelling was starting to go beyond what was possible. Ah, those memories.
Nostalgia is inevitable, as The Callisto Protocol immediately feels like a spiritual successor to 2008's Dead Space (no coincidence, considering they were co-created with Dead Space creator Glenn Schofield). However, it is important that the developers of Striking Distance Studio do not value the past too much and do not forget to innovate within the established framework. After all, what made the beloved games of the late 2000s so special was their willingness to try something new, even if it didn't always work out on the first try.
The Callisto protocol does more than enough to get rid of years of dead space itch. It's familiar, but it doesn't feel like the repetition that leaves its creative mark on the horror genre. However, there are no major weaknesses as excessive fighting and performance issues leave room for the new IP to become something stronger.
Check the correct box
On the surface, Callisto Protocols has everything fans could want from a Dead Space revival (with the exception of a plasma cutter). It's sci-fi horror made from the same fabric as the linear action adventures of the late 2000s, full of claustrophobic hallways, grotesque space monsters and grimy death animations. When it comes to creating an interesting atmosphere that you can't look away from, no box is left untouched.
The story centers on Jacob Lee, a space cargo ship pilot tasked with transporting a mysterious cargo between planets. After a sudden accident on the planet Callisto, where the terrifying Dark Iron prison is located, Jacob is arrested without explanation and thrown into a cell. You can probably guess where this is heading, as " The Callisto Protocol " has no particular narrative intent other than its commitment to genre tropes. Mutant monsters have taken over the prison, and Jacob must fight his way out. Why are people mysteriously kidnapped? Where do these animals come from? Read Resident Evil for Dummies and you'll end them all on the second page.
The story that unfolded was amazing, as Striking Distance studio later released books with actors like Josh Duhamel and Karen Fukuhara, even going so far as to fully restore their likeness. In the end, the talent seems to be wasted, but the story is more effective than forced. This is a good excuse to build a spectacular haunted house, like in great games like USG Ishimura's Spencer Mansion.
In such a horror game, the atmosphere is more important than the plot, and it is clear that this project is led by a master who understands this. The empty chamber of the Dark Iron Prison was shrouded in terrifying darkness, in which the infected prisoners hid. When I move carefully, I always have a gun with me, so I can use a flashlight to get into the shadows. Not to mention the map, I easily put myself in Jacob's shoes when trying to get out of the oppressive space meant to keep people inside.
The sight of disorienting sounds heightens this tension. During a combat encounter, I accidentally ended up in a room full of monsters. I ran back and hid in a corner when they started chasing me. Suddenly I heard footsteps in the metal pit. I frantically began focusing my flashlight to find the source of the noise; only for a monster to jump out of a hole next to me, making me sway like a frightened grandma with a whip.
These moments make up some of the best horror sequences in The Callisto Protocol , although they also offer good old-fashioned panic. Some of these are simple but effective tricks, such as placing parasitic worms in boxes instead of treats that pop out like a jack-in-the-box when opened. Striking Distance Studios uses some scary late games like this one (you can only scare me so many times when a human crawls in), but these surprises ensure that no part of Prison of Black Iron feels like dawn in a safe room. I don't want to run away or die.
My favorite quality of The Callisto Protocol and my biggest complaint about it is its unique combat system. Upon entering, I assume that he is going to copy notes from Dead Space about Jacob having some sort of plasma cutter that can strategically cut off limbs. In contrast, Striking Distance Studios creates an original system that feels far more desperate, emphasizing that Jacob is a caged animal who relies on his instincts to survive. Combat is based on a combination of melee attacks and shooting, but the focus is on the former. At the beginning of the game, Jacob takes a heavy stick from a dead guard, which he can use to fend off monsters. As he swung, I felt his entire body sink into her, as if his life depended on it. Each slap landed with a satisfying hit; I felt the weight of metal on the bone structure that supported this strange, rotting flesh.
The weapon is more effective as follow-up attacks that can be linked to attack combos, allowing Jacob to directly target the middle of the chain of attacks and unleash a massive explosion. There's a solid rhythm to a successful fight, waiting for the right moment for Jacob to hit the monster and shoot like a well-timed drummer to hit the cymbal. Players can run and shoot, but saving ammo is important. Sometimes during the battle, the monster will start to release tentacles from its chest, indicating that the monster is about to turn into a more formidable enemy. Accurate shooting will minimize this problem, and pistols seem to be a valuable countermeasure.
As part of his stamina, Jacob also has gravity that pulls enemies forward. This allows the player to create a vicious slapstick comedy, as Jacob can throw enemies into spinning paddles or throw them into a precipice. When these three instruments work together, the battle becomes like a symphony. In my most memorable fight, I pushed the enemy into a hollow wall and hit him with my club so hard that he immediately lost consciousness. Then I turned around and shot another giant with a shotgun blast, so hard that he hit the fan. Sick, terrible, beautiful.
While these basic concepts form a solid foundation, problems arise when combined with the more original Callisto Protocol escape system. As Jacob approached the attacking enemy, the stick controlling his movement suddenly changed into a dodge stick. Pressing left or right will dodge incoming attacks, while pressing back will block them. It's an interesting concept, it seems like a way to seamlessly integrate what is usually fast movement into combat. However, in practice it is a bit confusing.
I often try to back away from enemies, but my expected move changes to dodge. It's good for one-on-one encounters, but gets messy when there are more enemies on screen. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by enemies who were giving me free kicks from behind as I struggled to avoid what was in front of me. This is especially frustrating when you get stuck in a narrow aisle (a common situation) which causes the camera to swing violently into a possible position in the mosh pit.
The war was further complicated by an impractical weapons exchange system. Jacob can collect some weapons at the end of the game, but only two are equipped at a time. Pressing the left D button switches weapons, but after a long slow animation. The tiny interface made it difficult to tell at a glance which weapons were equipped (especially when half of the guns belonged to the same weapon type), which often left me wondering if I was switching weapons correctly during tense encounters. Similarly, the right D-pad displays a weapon menu so small you'll need a microscope to tell which weapon it is. Striking Distance seems to do its best to keep the user interface as small as possible, but it throws any practical considerations into the water bath.
All of these problems showed up in an utterly miserable final boss fight in which I died dozens of times while I could wield a weapon, move a small monster around the arena, and dodge an attack that could one day hurt me. don't fight the boss. This is a common problem in horror games that has plagued the Resident Evil series for decades. The combat system is intimate, perfect for one-on-one survival battles; Not compatible with full games. The Callisto protocol is instantaneous .
Borders are changing
Later in the game, I felt that Striking Distance Studio was a little more than it could swallow for its debut. The fact is that its technical characteristics. Callisto Protocol is one of the most amazing games I've seen for a new generation of consoles that takes advantage of the likes of the Xbox Series X. The faces are photorealistic, the death animations are incredibly detailed, and particle effects abound. What I really appreciate is that it doesn't change the style to realism, but still finds clever places to add splashes of color so the game doesn't crash. into the unknown.
This great art comes at a price, though it's hard to tell how it will perform when launched. During my game less than a week ago, Callisto Protocol struggled to run at a consistent frame rate on the Xbox Series X. When I say this, I don't mean a few dropped frames here and there. I had a full hour gap where the framerate dropped below 30fps and stayed at that level until I moved on to a less hectic chapter. Over the course of the week, Striking Distance has applied several emergency fixes addressing this issue and a very serious hard blocking bug. It's hard to say for sure if the game will be fully optimized at launch because the version you download today will be very different. At this point, I can honestly warn you, as the problem I had a few days ago is not typical for revision builds.
Note that I haven't seen the game work on PS4 and Xbox One, but with modern technology, last-minute troubleshooting is a bit of a concern. If you're considering buying on one of these platforms, I'd suggest waiting to see how performance holds up here, as all of the issues I'm listing here have been seen on the Xbox Series S and X.
While these issues are frustrating, I'm willing to forgive Callisto Protocol if I look at the work as a whole. It's an ambitious project for a new studio of its size, and most developers are up to the task of making horror games feel classic and original. It's clear that a lot of attention – and, unfortunately, a lot of reading before making a purchase decision – was invested in a game that not only emulated Dead Space, but also continued its legacy. While it seems partially overwhelmed for this purpose, there is a solid foundation here that I hope will bleed another time.
We all know that Dead Space 2 is the best, right?
The Callisto protocol has been tested on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, with the latter connected to a TCL 6 Series R635.