Originally published at: Review | Scorn - XboxEra
Scorn is finally here after it was initially announced back in 2014. You are a weird, freakish character who is tossed into an unforgiving, gray world filled with H.R. Geiger-inspired locations and creature designs. Over 6 to 8 hours, you’ll stick phallic objects into bunghole-shaped bio-machinery, shoot biologically powered guns at weird flesh puppets, and it’s available as part of your Game Pass subscription. So, let’s break this weird, fleshy mess of a game down.
Scorn has no writing, voice acting, or written words of any kind. “You are a weird flesh humanoid-shaped creature who wakes up in some terrible place and is thrown into a strange world that wants to kill you” is the entire backstory. The first few hours of the game are entirely puzzle-based. This is a fully 3D world played from the first-person perspective. Everything is flesh-like and biomechanical in nature. Every part of this world seems alive, and there for you to poke phallic-shaped objects into things that look like butts. The puzzles themselves tend to be extremely straightforward with minimal trial and error. You’ll most likely find yourself wandering around with no clue what to do until an object lights up that you hadn’t noticed you could interact with before and a light goes off over your head.
There is nothing in this entire game in the way of a path being given. You will stumble in this disturbingly fleshy-filled series of bland, and honestly quite ugly corridors. I reviewed the game on PC with settings at max and was surprised at just how ugly the majority of the game is. A few sections look great, but they are a rare exception in an otherwise thoroughly mediocre-looking game. While the first few hours were so slow-paced and full of bland puzzle work the rest of my time was spent coming to grips with an awful combat system. You eventually unlock a handle that can have a variety of ends attached to it. All disturbingly biomechanical, of course, even the ammo. First up is a nearly useless and infuriating to use piston rod style attachment. This doesn’t run on ammo but requires a cooldown period. The other ranged weaponry has extremely limited ammo which can be found in finite amounts throughout each level.
When you have ammo they felt ok to use on a mouse & keyboard and a bit too stiff with a controller. I was able to fine-tune the aim but with the surprisingly large number of enemies that you’ll face as the game progresses, I found mouse aim to be far superior in being able to stay alive. Health replenishments are similar in their finite nature within each act. This was especially frustrating as the game routinely takes away a health segment from you during unavoidable cutscenes. Add in the fact that almost every enemy can do unlimited ranged attacks, and one of the bigger ones can charge you down non-stop and the combat becomes unbearable. Even with bland, uninteresting puzzles, mediocre graphics, and terrible combat I could have found something worth praising if the story and audio were good. Sadly, they fair no better.
Story? What Story
The title revels in giving you absolutely nothing. Even after five full hours of playtime I couldn’t tell you what the story is about any more than I could have after five minutes. As stated previously, there is zero voice acting or writing in the game. The UI is as minimalistic as it gets, and you can’t even choose to save. Instead, you must rely on checkpoints which routinely forced me to replay entire sections of the game when the combat reared its ugly and unbalanced head.
Audio-wise the sound effects are ok, but there is zero music to speak of. You get the occasional tone and light ambient noise but that is it, and it drains a game already devoid of any fun or life of having some type of personality to it. In the end, I keep feeling like every single part of this game is either boring to experience or infuriating to play. If it had stuck with the puzzle style of early on and mixed in a minimal amount of combat, it could have just been mediocre. Instead, we are handed a game with far too many enemies to fight and no way to do it enjoyably. I felt no tension while fighting anything, instead, just dread because of how unenjoyable every single combat encounter without ammo was and that is most of them.
Control wise there is no jump button, just an aim, reload, and use. You have an inventory that shows each fleshy attachment and how many bio-ammo pieces are currently embedded in them. Your tiny ammo and health squid monster thing will never not be massively disturbing. So much behind this title seems focused on being weird and out there, instead of engaging and enjoyable. It is a routinely miserable experience for every single one of your senses with only the occasional burst of creativity for your vision. That’s what really gets me in the end. How could something that has taken so long to come out release in this state? I’ve played games in this genre before, and they can be fantastic. There is nothing scary here, nor is there any type of hook in any area. Was the thought of “let’s make some cool-looking sets and then stick long rods into tight holes” the entire sales pitch?
I have enjoyed some action-adventure horror games out there. Limited ammo and health reserves can be a great tool for upping the tension and a great story helps make it worth seeing things through. Scorn has none of that. It is bland, boring, plays poorly, and excels in no areas.
|Available on||Xbox Series X|S, PC|
|Release Date||October 14th, 2022|
|Rated||M for Mature|