Scars Above could easily be confused with Returnal.
We have a similar sci-fi backdrop, monsters at every turn and very familiar explore-fight-die-repeat gameplay.
But while Returnal was a PS5 exclusive backed up by Sony’s mega money, this title is a little more ‘indie’ having been developed by Serbian outfit Mad Head Games.
And it surprised me by how challenging and addictive it is, even if the gameplay itself is far from perfect.
You play as Dr Kate Ward – a member of the The Sentient Contact Assessment and Response team (SCAR) – and you and your team have been tasked with trying to work out what the huge pointy alien machine is that travelled to Earth six months ago.
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It sits there, a big reverse pyramid if you will, just above our orbit.
And after a rather flakey series of roughly animated cutscenes, featuring dodgy voice-acting, you’ve been dumped on an alien world with a wispy-like creature beckoning you forward.
Then the Returnal comparisons hit and hit hard.
You scavenge for items, craft weapons and methodically explore areas riddled with attacking creatures.
The aim is to slowly piece together parts of the map, beating baddies sometimes over multiple playthroughs from the nearest save post, until you get to the next major part of the game and storyline.
That means a lot of dying, in between scanning monsters, learning about them, and discovering new paths, as well as face-offs with bosses in brutal fights.
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After a lacklustre opening, where the game actually crashed for me on console – that hasn’t happened in years, the game itself is actually half decent.
It’s everything you’ve played before in various other games, smashed together into an acceptable sci-fi yarn.
The controls can be a little fiddly, which annoys during crucial boss fights, but it isn’t enough to ruin Scars Above and after a good old play through you’ll find yourself warming to the fight-die-repeat Soulslike dynamic.
A decent but not amazing game with few surprises.
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