The Callisto Protocol review: an all-time horror masterpiece

The Callisto Protocol is the spiritual successor to the Dead Space series, improving it in almost every way with a perfect recipe of fear, fun and a constantly fragile atmosphere.

When Striking Distance Studios, led by Dead Space co-creator Glen Schofield, set out to create their debut title, their vision strayed from a PUBG tie-in to a final, fully-fledged, third-person survival horror experience – The Callisto Protocol.

Aided by creators with a passion for the horror genre, The Callisto Protocol is built on a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise, which is reflected in the game’s final product.

From tantalizing suspense and intense combat sequences to stunning sound and nightmare-inducing visual design, The Callisto Protocol is a fascinating exploration of a truly terrifying and twisted universe.

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The Callisto protocol: core data

  • Developer: Studios at striking distance
  • Price: $59.99 USD / ¬£49.99 GBP / $89.95 AUD
  • Publication date: December 2, 2022
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC

The trailer of the Callisto protocol

Claustrophobic chaos on Callisto

You’re Jacob Lee, a contracted hauler who specializes in moving precious cargo, and it becomes clear early on that the inventory you’re shipping from Europa to Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons, is a bit mushy. to say the least.

Intervening forces eventually arrest you and you end up in the Black Iron Prison, and therein lies the beginning of your traumatic journey.

From start to finish, Call of Duty: WW2’s Josh Duhamel and The Boys’ Karen Fukuhara deliver stellar performances along with the rest of the cast, only adding to the ever-growing mystery surrounding Callisto and the events that led up to it. to a massive outbreak of a new infection.

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jacob lee talks in callisto protocolStudios at striking distance

One of the biggest criticisms of Dead Space was that it was difficult to be sympathetic and relate to a nameless, voiceless protagonist. While Jacob is the complete opposite and is brimming with facial expressions and reactive movements to the sordid images and sudden noises of his surroundings.

The story builds to a thrilling and shocking climax and it’s clear that the right amount of attention has been carefully woven into The Callisto Protocol to keep you hooked to the very end.

Unnecessary gore and infernal horror

When I interviewed Steve Papoutsis, Chief Development Officer of Striking Distance Studios, a while back, he promised me, “An experience that players would really enjoy and dread while playing.”

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Boy, he really underestimated this idea. As soon as you’re unleashed in The Callisto Protocol, you’re subjected to what becomes the game’s trademark over the course of the next 12-14 hours: a sense of helplessness.

screaming enemy in the callisto protocolStudios at striking distance

The atmosphere breathes a constant air of uneasiness and fear as the game attacks all your senses from all directions and you never know what awaits you next.

The Callisto Protocol regularly throws curveballs and teases something gruesome with nothing coming out of the shadows, but the squeezing and squeaking of high fiddles makes you think otherwise.

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Unlike its predecessors, The Callisto Protocol has fewer weapons, but it puts more emphasis on using the game’s deeper melee combat. A Stun Baton becomes a violent bludgeoning tool that rewards you if you pay attention to the block, dodge and combo mechanics by conserving your ammo – which becomes scarcer as you progress.

While the game may not feature an iconic weapon like the plasma cutter, the excellent 3D printer upgrade system offers plenty of ways to customize your weapons and equipment, ultimately allowing you to manipulate your gameplay style of play.

With several pistols, shotguns and an assault rifle to use, players are also greeted with the GRP – a familiar gravity-defying launching mechanism that lets you hoist eligible enemies and use them either as a non-human shield, turn them into an insta- kill hazard, or play Pong with them against the walls.

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With the tools at your disposal, you can paint disgusting viscera murals in Black Iron and the game’s countless other locations. From throwing enemies into giant exposed fans to unloading sledgehammer-like Riot Gun shots into the limbs of vile creatures, there are several ways to approach combat scenarios with specific attacks that provoke a different response from enemies.

Whichever method you choose, expect a large amount of blood and guts to satisfy poor Jacob.

jacob lee attacking enemy in callisto protocolStudios at striking distance

I might have liked one or two more enemy types, and more bosses for sure, since Callisto protocol only has a few that repeat. Nevertheless, between blind creatures that demand stealth and pesky ones that spit acid at you, there’s always something new to consider.

It’s okay to die too. As well as being a testing challenge, the game also treats you to a litany of truly disturbing death sequences, ranging from Jacob’s eyes gouged out to his face smashed into a crushed grape.

You are never safe in the Callisto Protocol

The presentation and sound design of the Callisto Protocol are exquisite thanks to its unnerving cocktail of chilling tones and unsettling noises that make you feel like an orchestra is composing your own personal symphony of destruction… and fear.

They sum up the horror vibe perfectly and the jumpscares never stop either. What’s cool is that they never get boring and constantly catch you off guard – even when you’re expecting something.

You can see vents and holes in the walls knowing full well that something unpleasant is lurking, but you get too busy focusing on every other aspect of the environment to even notice a giant beast that hurtling towards you at a speed of knots.

The game’s locations range from damp corridors to the snow-covered, gale-force winds of Callisto itself, and the visuals are beautiful. The lighting is great with dim lighting and fire-covered rubble bouncing off the filthy, raunchy hallways, and particle effects that allow smoke to craze through the levels.

Towards the end, it becomes a serious men’s challenge to see which area can drip more alien fluid and house the most grotesque sights to retreat to the underwear drawer.

corridor in the callisto protocolStudios at striking distance

The nauseating noises and howls of enemies are a welcome change from the excessive and a little frustrating amount of time Jacob spends in crawl spaces and vents, but this is now to be expected in major AAA games to avoid loading screens.

In my experience, I experienced almost no technical issues other than the odd drop in frame rate.

The verdict – 5/5

A wonderfully exhausting exercise in futility is probably the best way to describe the Callisto Protocol, because as strong as my own determination was, I was constantly on edge, enjoying those fleeting moments when the game allowed me to breathe after yet another life-threatening fight .

The constant fear and horror fueled by the phenomenal visual and sound design is only complemented by the compelling story. The Callisto Protocol is hopefully the start of an exciting new franchise and is another sign that survival horror is anything but dead.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5

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