A Comprehensive Review of
the Callisto Protocol
When the PUBG creators, Krafton revealed that they have plans of branching out into other genres with narrative-driven games, nobody was necessarily excited. However, everyone was excited when they went on to reveal their first project, a narrative-driven survival horror game called The Callisto Protocol. The excitement was primarily because a former co-creator of the popular Dead Space series directed the game. After months of teasing, the game is finally out, and let us dive deeper into how it holds up to its expectation.
About The Callisto Protocol
The Callisto Protocol is a horror survival game developed by Striking Distance Studios and was released on December 2, 2022, across all major platforms, including Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Glen Schofield, co-creator of the Dead Space series, directed the game. The game features a story of a survivor fighting through infected prisoners in a facility on Jupiter’s moon Callisto.
The Callisto Protocol already got the gaming community’s attention because fans haven’t gotten a good Dead Space game in decades. So they were excited to see the franchise’s co-creator working on a new project. The game trailers showcased a similar setting to the Dead Space universe, but what caught fans’ eyes was the superstar cast.
The protagonist of the game, Jacob Lee, is played by the talented American actor Josh Duhamel, followed by his co-stars Karen Fukuhara and Sam Witwer. With three superstars in its cast, The Callisto Protocol looked good in terms of the game’s action and emotions. But the bigger question is if the directors and the writers kept up to make the game’s story as appealing as the cast.
Captivating plot but is rushed towards the end
The Callisto Protocol has one of the best epilogues in modern-day video games. The introductory sequences of the game are stunning and well-delivered, and you will be instantly immersed in its story right from the get-go. While most of the credit goes to Glen Schofield’s direction to create an immersive cinematic atmosphere, the cast also does the characters and the story justice with their phenomenal performance.
Almost the entire flow of the story is filled with intense scenes and somehow becomes reminiscent of the world in Dead Space games. You will find yourself invested in the characters and the stories they tell. However, the plot seems rushed towards the end of the game with baffling plot holes and lazy writing. As a result, the game’s ending might be a little underwhelming if you get invested in the story early on in the game.
The Callisto Protocol screams Dead Space in almost every aspect of it. Everything from the game’s setting, atmosphere, and enemies feels like something out of the Dead Space universe. However, instead of focusing the gameplay on guns and other telekinetic powers like in Dead Space, The Callisto Protocol focuses mainly on melee combat. And melee combat in this game is stale and underdeveloped.
While the introductory scenes, where the game introduces you to its combat, can be a little fun, it gets repetitive and stale as you go on. You will often find it rather annoying when you are presented with enemies in certain levels, as fighting enemies feels like a job you detest but have to do. Furthermore, the melee combat takes a turn-based approach as you can’t lock on to enemies. And the worst part is that since even the most basic enemies come with absurdly massive health bars, you will have to repeatedly press keys without any combinations till you drain these spongy enemies.
There are guns in the game, but they are underwhelming as it requires an entire clip just to put down even a basic enemy. And when you face multiple enemies at once, you are in for mental torture. Simply put, there is nothing enjoyable about this game’s combat system and mechanics. But the developers should be appreciated here as they have tried to do something different rather than copy-pasting known combat formulas like most other games do, even though they failed horribly.
And The Callisto Protocol also falls apart when it comes to enemy variety. All the enemies feel the same as they share the same movements and animations almost all the time. While some enemies differ in slight physical qualities, the enemies look and act pretty much the same. And if you expect boss fights like in other games in the same genre, you will be disappointed. The game lacks boss fights and features only a single boss fight apart from the final battle. And this single boss has some underwhelming moves and variations, just like the rest of the enemy pool.
The thing that redeems The Callisto Protocol is its visuals and environment design. Everything from the levels to the game’s atmosphere and vibe is amazing. Paired with some great ambient music and well-directed sound design, the world the developers have managed to create is beautiful and immersive. As a result, it does look like a well-designed triple-A horror game. But, unfortunately, all of its beauty is overshadowed by a ton of performance and optimization issues.
The game was almost unplayable at launch due to stuttering issues, at least on the PC platform. While most suspected the problem to be the Denuvo DRM that runs with the game, it was obvious that it wasn’t well-optimized before the release. Even though fixes were rolled out the next day, some issues persisted, marking another terrible game launch. However, these issues can be easily patched up in the future, but what can’t be patched up is the game’s clunky combat mechanics and the rushed story. However, if you can look past these issues, The Callisto Protocol is a pretty enjoyable game, especially for Dead Space fans.