Scars Above developed by Mad Head Games is a Sci-Fi Action-adventure shooter that blends combat and exploration. The game will have players embark on a research journey that will help them uncover the truth behind a mysterious exoplanet; all while trying to survive a plethora of terrifying monsters.
Scars Above is available for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Steam.
Survive Against All Odds
Players step into the shoes of Kate Ward, a member of SCAR (Sentient Contact Assessment and Response) who are now stranded on an alien planet after the mission had gone wrong. The team is now separated and Kate sets off in her journey to reunite with her crewmates.
With Sci-Fi as its main premise, the narrative for Scars Above does include some horror elements to it; and while its mostly predictable, there were some little surprises here and there. Personally speaking, I find that the story and characters weren’t all that memorable. I didn’t get attached to any of the characters from SCAR because they were only briefly introduced during the start of the game.
Above Earth’s Orbit
Accompanying us throughout our journey are two weapons: an Electric Cutter and a gun called VERA. Instead of just relying on your shooting skills, Scars Above offers us an interesting alternative to take down lurking monsters. As long as you keep track to the enemy’s weak points, attack patterns and types, you can go through the fight without much of a hitch.
VERA is an elemental weapon that consists of four different elements: Electric, Fire, Ice and Poison, and all of them have their own functions. Players can take advantage of these different elements and create elemental reactions with them and be creative in combat. When you see an enemy drenched in water, switch over to electric damage and see the sparks fly.
With VERA being your main weapon, you will use it a lot. Initially, I was worries about ammo, but it was unnecessary. Ammo was not an issue at all while playing the game, since you can just find it along the way.
But only dishing out damage doesn’t save you from enemy attacks; you’ll need to dodge by rolling around. This makes it feel a bit of like a soulslike game as you’ll need to rely on dodging to save yourself. However, much like in soulslike fashion, rolling will deplete your Stamina and will take a longer time to replenish in combat.
There are also some gadgets that you can use to ease up poison, heal you up and so on. You can get these gadgets by exploring or crafting. The silver lining about it are that it use the same energy source that either extract from enemies or plant, so you don’t need to worry about it.
There are certain checkpoints in the game called pillars where you can restore your ammunition. However, it also revives all the enemies back up. This frustrated me especially after spending time and effort after defeating a mini boss just to see them back up again. And while you still can outrun some enemies, there are a lot of instances where you’re forced to fight them.
But as you progress in the story, Kate will eventually get stronger mainly from the skill tree. You can unlock abilities by exchanging your EXP gained from gaining knowledge from the abundance of flora and fauna on the planet. There are two types of abilities you can unlock, which are Engineering abilities and Xenobiology abilities. Both of these abilities can improve your Quality of Life or even Kate’s powers. A little neat feature that the game has is that you can choose to refund your EXP for the skills that you don’t want to use. So you can dip your toes and try out any skill that fits your fancy without much drawbacks.
There are some puzzles that you’ll need to solve to progress through the game, but it was very straightforward so you don’t have to worry about that.
A Whole New World
While the environmental design in Scars Above look like a typical sci-fi game setting, it was still very well done for me. I especially loved the enemy designs and how creepy each of them looked. The bosses are also very unique from one another but still have some similarities between them like their armour.
However, the human characters on the other hand needs a bit of polishing up. The animations and movement of the characters feel kind of stiff, especially when it comes to dodging and melee combat. The character faces are almost emotionless even during tense scenes. It felt more creepy looking into Kate’s dead eyes, not to mention her crazy ponytail hair physics.
Other than that, the videos during the cutscenes don’t really play that well. Most of the time, I would just stare back at my face and listen to the voices. Thankfully there’s subtitles that indicates which characters are talking, else I’d be completely clueless during cutscenes.
For a AA game, Scars Above impressed me in a good way. Even though the game has its flaws and I do get frustrated, I am surprised that I can still enjoy it. Not to mention, the game doesn’t take long to finish. The boss fights are pretty fun and took me a few attempts to try out a lot of combination attacks just to defeat them.
|Engaging elemental combat and puzzles||Stiff character models and animations|
|Monster designs are amazing||Combat gets repetitive during end game|
|Predictable story with forgettable characters|
Scars Above was reviewed on PC via Steam.
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