The Callisto Protocol – Zero Punctuation

Want to watch Zero Punctuation ad-free? Sign-up for The Escapist + today and support your favorite content creators!

Poor old Jacob Lee can’t catch a break. First he has to deal with people always asking him if he’s still making movies with Kevin Smith, then his space truck explodes over an evil space prison and he gets thrown into the space prison for some unclear crime, possibly littering. Then all the prisoners get infected with zombie virus and become more interested in twatting Jacob Lee to death than in trading cigarettes for handjobs, and if all that weren’t enough to put the bow on Jacob Lee’s shitty day, he then has to spend the next ten hours being the protagonist of a fucking awful video game. But be realistic, Jacob Lee, you’re hardly Silent Hill material, you’d need to learn more than two facial expressions besides Stupid Confused and Stupid Neutral. The Callisto Protocol, then, unashamed Dead Space clone by what has retroactively been revealed to be the less competent of the two creators of Dead Space. So you should know what to expect of the basic gameplay – third person creeping through dark metal corridors, frequent ambushes by screaming ambulatory piles of expired deli meat, and several NPC support characters whose plans always seem to boil down to Jacob having to make his way. Through nine levels of murder basement while they stay in an air conditioned computer room making sure the screen saver doesn’t come on.

Still the core combat has more of a melee focus than Dead Space. I know, because I walked out of my cell at the start of the game and got immediately twatted to death by the first enemy. The game was trying to teach me how to dodge, you see. Hold in a direction and Jacob will automatically dodge, it said. Oh, well that’s kind of an original dodge mechanic. Is this direction OK? “No. Now watch a five minute death animation as the enemy shoves its fist down Jacob’s throat and uses it as a washing up glove.” This happened twice in a row. I think you’re supposed to push in the direction away from where the attack’s coming from. Or towards it. Or corresponding to which limb the enemy’s attacking with. Or their Zodiac sign. Honestly it always felt random whether I’d picked the right direction to dodge in, but then I have trouble making rational decisions when a dude with a face like a Rice Krispie treat is sprinting towards me with one hand raised and a pile of dirty dishes in the other. So straight off I was getting Outlast 2 flashbacks. Make one tiny error right at the start thanks to poorly explained mechanics and get to watch our protagonist gasping at the sliced ​​meatball sandwich that used to be their cock and balls for thirty seconds.

Horrifying, yes, but then you reload, pop back to life, and all tension is deflated. It sets the game off on the wrong foot and instantly turns horror into frustration, although Callisto Protocol seems to be generally bad at telling the difference. He just loves stealing health. Semi-regularly you walk into a room or open a cupboard and the game goes “THINK FAST” and a little face hugger will rocket towards you like the fucking killer rabbit from Monty Python and go “Hee hee hee! Free damage for me! Nom nom nom nom nom!” And you have to mash a button to rip it off. There is never a fucking way to see it coming. So what am I supposed to do, here, game? Don’t go into rooms? Not search every single cupboard? Have you played survival horror before? I have to go through every cabinet looking for ammo and health like an extremely stoned medical student in a communal kitchen at two in the morning. That’s how the survival part works. Just to skip to the end for a moment, Callisto Protocol is, spoiler warning, a load of old shite and bumbags, and the funny thing is that all its major issues stem from a single point, and that’s the animations.

The very least of it are the unskippable, prolonged and gratuitously cruel death scenes that are our punishment for not intuiting we were supposed to dodge left if our enemy was born in the Chinese year of the pig, and long before the moment I saw them start I’d just quit to main menu and reload my save, which was usually faster. Also, if you run out of ammo during a fight then you’re fucked, because the painfully slow reload and switch weapon animations don’t count if they’re interrupted, and they will be, because these furious reject seasonal McDonalds burgers on legs They are very aggressive and very keen to get their washing done. If you need to heal up in combat then you’re double fucked, because Jacob can’t just man up and jam the glowing green needle in his neck, he’s got to slowly crouch and carefully lay down a little picnic blanket to sit on, first. Also also we can’t swing our melee weapon straight away if it’s currently holstered. So I’d take it out and try to keep it ready while creeping through the hallways looking for the inevitable next ambush and dumbotits here keeps fucking holstering it again without me asking. You need both hands to pick your fucking nose, or something?

Oh, and the animators must’ve been particularly proud of the 3D printing sequence at the upgrade station ‘cos we have to sit through the whole fucking thing every time we buy any upgrade for our guns, and over and over again if we bought one Right before one of the frustratingly hard boss fights, ‘cos the thought of putting in an autosave after the upgrade station apparently slipped everyone’s minds while they were rendering another seven different ways to pull Jacob Lee’s knackers off. I don’t know if the lead animator was mobbed up and threatening to call Louie Fishlips to come break kneecaps if any animations got skipped, but it’s as good an explanation as any. Hang on, I feel like I forgot to mention something… oh yeah: there are guns. There’s a pistol, a shotgun, another pistol, and another shotgun. Never figured out what the precise differences were, but at least it meant having twice as many ammo types to clutter the severely limited inventory with. And you can’t throw away guns once you’ve crafted them, so you’ll keep getting ammo for them even if you want to focus on a classic pistol and caffeine free shotgun.

Callisto Protocol is an almost refreshingly bad game. Riddled with misguided and frustrating design choices rather than the usual generic driver. Although it’s generic drivel as well, make no mistake, we’re plumbing into new dimensions of shite-osity. Feels like Dead Space with all of Dead Space’s interesting edges sanded down. Unique limb cutting replaced gameplay with generic twatting about. Unique monster design replaced with generic cornflake zombies. Who were of course created by a generic alien parasite dredged up from a generic ancient ruin and then deliberately spread by generically evil rich people for generic super soldier reasons. And then after a generic final boss fight against a generic monster man the plot has the sheer gallop to end on a cliffhanger. Read the room, Callisto Protocol. “Bet the last ten hours of punches to the bullocks have whetted your appetite for an additional mule kick to the prostate.” The fundamental flaw of Catpiss Pokeyballs is that its core gameplay demands a speed of thought and action that the sluggish control and animations disallow. As I say, frustration and horror are not the same thing. Horror is discovering what your overweight grandma did to your toilet, frustration is trying to get an emergency plumber around on Thanksgiving weekend.

Fucking audio logs not playing over gameplay again

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *