Scars Above it was a title that we had already got to deal with in the process of preview. In fact, the proof is available on our pages and we strongly advise you to recover it as soon as possible! That said, the work released by the label Prime Matter and developed by Mad Head Games it had some interesting premise when I first touched the game, but at the same time it had clearly evident defects in the game structure, but also in other areas such as Game Design and beyond. Let’s say that the tried Scars Above hadn’t left something inside me, especially for a very dull and flat narrative, which did not convey originality, and indeed highlighted various problems on the writing side. That said, we at GamesVillage were able to get our hands on the final build of the game, which allowed us to fully and fairly objectively judge the sci-fi work. Will Scars Above have improved since we tested the preview phase? We just have to find out in this game review. Make yourself comfortable and we wish you a good reading!
Scars Above: the world used as an experiment
Making a sort of summary of the previous installments, a rather strange and unusual event happens in Scars Above. A mysterious ship with a geometric shape appears in the orbit of the planet Terra, which scientists call the Metahedron. To find out what exactly happens, the team of the analysis and research contactee expedition, known by the acronym of SCAR, led by Commander Richard together with the scientist Kate and the other two crew members, namely Tamara and Mike, will have to find out something more about it on this mysterious ship. However, after Kate has done some routine analysis inside the SCAR spacecraft, something unexpected happens and the team is devastated and finds himself wandering in an unknown and very dangerous world. But an even stranger fact occurs to us in Scars Above: Kate is dead at the moment of impact, but for some strange reason she comes back to life. Now that we have told the narrative incipit of the work created by Mad Head Games, I can say that the plot has not impressed me at all. Let’s say that in the advanced stages of the game the story will gain some form and we will better understand the intentions of the Metahedron, within which there is a life form that wants to use the world as an experiment, and now it has targeted planet Earth.
However, despite this, the way in which the various events are told is devoid of any interest, and in fact, everything that happens around the story is not at all intriguing and is devoid of any twist. In short, it is quite evident even to the eyes of one who is not particularly attentive the various problems on this aspect may not be evident, with the classic villain who wants to use the world as his personal laboratory. Speaking of the characters, even the latter certainly don’t shine in terms of characterization, especially Kate, the main protagonist of the game. Leaving aside the directorial point of view, the sequences filmed with Kate interacting with the various supporting actors are very bland and flat, and this is also due to the technical aspect of the game, which we will tell you about shortly. But the other characters are also very subdued. In short, if you are interested in Scars Above because you think it could turn out to be a good video game from that point of view, I’ll leave you with just one warning: don’t put too much thought into it!
Scars Above: overall acceptable gameplay
After giving you some information about the story, It’s time to move on to one of the most important components, ie the gameplay. Initially, one may have the perception that Game Design is inspired by souls-like, which is not entirely wrong. In fact, columns will be available on the planet that will allow us to restock, recover lost health and make previously killed enemies reappearonly that the latter will prove to be a completely useless choice. Let’s take for example the progenitors of the genre such as Dark Souls or NioH: in general, when we are faced with these “checkpoints” it is possible to enhance our character, make the enemies reappear by representing an expedient that allows the player to go back and stock up on materials to level up or recover some weapon that we did not take. However, in Scars Above, all this is completely useless, because the progression system is not based on the amount of enemies killed, but rather on collecting certain objects which will allow us to obtain skill points that can be spent on skill- tree to improve our Kate. Going right into the core of Scars Above’s gameplay, we can say that the work combines classic mechanics from games belonging to the genre of third-person-shooter together with white weapon fights. Speaking of the shooting sequences, these seemed to me completely acceptable, with a good dose of fun thanks to a gunplay that undoubtedly represents some defects, but on balance it is very acceptable with the different guns that players will be able to wield .
While, as far as the combat system with the white weapon is concerned, unfortunately we are not there at all. The melee combat system it is totally to be reviewed as it is very tedious and really old. I start by saying the impossibility of framing the enemies in such a way that the camera follows their movements, with the only possibility of exploiting a single attack with the white weapon by default that is assigned to us when we start the adventure. This represents a huge flaw in Scars Above’s gameplay – maybe the developers thought it wouldn’t be particularly important, but it’s conceptually wrong. Such an important gameplay element cannot be overlooked not to mention the animations which look dated bikes. In short, we certainly don’t expect a fight similar to Dark Souls or any action-game, but it would have been appropriate cure this big gap in the Mad Head Games production. Instead, a very welcome addition is the ability to perform various elemental combos against your enemies. For example, if the enemy finds himself in water, us with the gun that uses electricity we will be able to perform a combo and inflict more damage. This last function seemed to me very apt, not original since we have seen this system in several games, but it is certainly fun and rewarding to exploit the various elements to do more damage.
Scars Above: passable art direction
Now, one of the items that should stand out according to the game’s page on Steam resides in the artistic direction of the project. To be honest, this didn’t seem particularly inspired to me, although the different biomes on the planet are pleasant to look at. Among other things, in one part of the game we will find ourselves in front of a snowy environment where the protagonist if he doesn’t take advantage of the various “bonfires” to warm up, he will die of hypothermia. This was a very functional choice regarding Game Design, but I would have been curious to see this game mechanic how it would have worked in the other biomes featured in the game. In short, although the Artistic Direction did not particularly enthuse me, this does not mean that the general setting of the game should be condemned, but certainly it lacks originality and inspiration. From a graphic point of view, the game certainly runs well, since we got to get our hands on the game with a PC equipped with a 10GB Nvidia RTX 3080. The problem is the qualitative rendering of the game, and we are not saying that a visual sector of this kind can be justified, since we have some software houses that have created some very valid graphically games, such as for example Mundfish with the latest Atomic Heartalso considering that the work just mentioned is the first publication of the development team.
Speaking instead of the design of the creatures, let’s say that the various enemies that are featured in Scars Above are interesting. Although the AI side leaves a lot to be desired, but this is a side that mainly concerns artificial intelligence and not their design. Having said that, each creature boasts of different peculiarities, even if, there is a creature in particular that ruined my game sessions since it was certainly afflicted by some bug since its attacks continued undaunted and several times I died for this reason . Even the various bosses are beautiful to look at, each with its own aesthetics even if the game mechanics are very trivial as regards the killing of this type of enemy.
Sviluppatore: Mad Head Games
Publisher: Prime Matter
Piattaforme: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Scars Above is a title that has many flaws and few strengths. Surely the third-person-shooter mechanics are spot on but, for example, the white-weapon fights are literally unwatchable. The story that revolves around the title is not particularly striking and presents some problems, with the main villain written in a non-optimal way. Not to mention the Art Direction which, despite being pleasant to look at, is uninspired and doesn’t give the perception of exploring an unknown planet. In short, Scars Above is a project that could have given much, much more, but unfortunately the choices made to the game were not very appropriate and exciting, at least for the most part.