Dark Light

There’s a shoddy bar downtown, half drenched by the street’s warm sodium-vapor lamps. Amidst the cheers and after several rounds of beer, it’s B.J. Blazkowicz’s turn to speak. He takes the beer bottle from Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, pretending it’s a mic when suddenly the front door flies open. And out of the night into the light walks a dwarfish man with a most distinguishing feature, the word ‘SCAR’ carved on his fist. Exchanging coy glances with Shelly and bending forward, Duke lowers his shades and asks – “who let the kid in?”  and throws a friendly punch at Sam’s serious face. Sam lets out a condescending chuckle as the Doomslayer’s hand shifts from the glass of fat-free milk to his shotgun.

No one notices the veins popping up on the eponymous stranger’s fist as his grip tightens on his gun. And within seconds, the entire bar turns into a high-octane gorefest with enough rockets and carnage to appease the entirety of the retro-shooter fanbase.

This is S.C.A.R


First, the good parts!

S.C.A.R stands for Simulating Carnage and Rockets, and it would take less than a second for you to realize why it’s called that. A modern throwback to the R-rated shooters of the ’90s, S.C.A.R is the latest addition to the retro-FPS resurgence that has been shouldering the genre for quite some time. Why? Because the moment you enter the first stage, your trigger-happy alter-ego takes over as you smoke the first demon into a bloody fountain of pixels. And before the others can react, you’re jumping and dashing mid-air over the beastly horde while raining down red-hot lead without even the slightest sense of recoil.


Things don’t stop there as you keep chaining your momentum, dashing and sliding to slingshot yourself several feet above the floor, blasting the hell out of mutants while collecting ammo, health and armor lined up in the same row. In the blink of an eye, you’re flying from platform to platform like a goddamn Titanfall pilot and bombarding anything that moves with enough rockets to fill Fort Bragg‘s armory. Before the sweat trickles down our nameless character’s cheeks, you’ve already switched to the sniper rifle to take down the cowards shooting from a distance. You won’t even remember the last time you ‘walked’ in S.C.A.R because after clearing one area, you won’t be able to hold yourself back as the Mick Gordon-inspired heavy-metal synth track will still be playing in a loop.


What’s more, your basic weapon – the pistol – literary has infinite ammo and a few shots are powerful enough to turn anyone into a heap of gore. You can switch weapons on the fly even in mid-air to finish up anyone that dares cross your path. Though the initial impression might be that certain guns fare better against certain enemies, I would suggest only one thing, “Shotgun go boom!”. There’s literally no problem, except the towering bosses, that can’t be solved by cocking the shotgun. And with ammo and health in plenty, you become a reckoning force of rage on par with the Doomslayer himself.


It’s a multi-level playground out there with as much emphasis on aerial movement (thanks to the grappling hook) as boots-on-the-ground. Areas are spacious with many ledges and platforms hiding plenty of secrets. No surface is left untrodden as you combine the aerial dash and the grappling hook to reach far off places, and even if you fall, you can always get back on it. Speaking of falling, there is practically no fall-damage, so no loss of momentum in your speed-run. Adding the icing on the cake are gamers’ favorite explosive barrels that can send swathes of the malicious red devils to kingdom come.

The game even gives you an assortment of settings to change, like replacing blood with candies, enemies dropping tombstones on dying, changing blood color, making bosses wear pirate hats, and more. You can experiment any way you like – that too in the middle of a brutal battle.

Early Access, eh?

S.C.A.R is an Early Access game. Obviously there are a lot of caveats that come with such titles. For example, you’ve only four weapons for now – the pistol, the shotgun, the rocket launcher, and the sniper rifle. The same headbanging soundtrack plays in a loop all throughout the game. The enemy roster is a bit small. The game’s intro music is extremely choppy and distorted (hope the devs fix it in a new patch). There are also issues with the enemy AI (or sometimes, lack thereof) and their crude animations.

There’s an overall lack of challenge with the game throwing supplies in your face and a general lack of polish that is synonymous with many Early Access games. While the game looks quite pretty and colorful for a retro FPS, sometimes it’s hard to pick out enemies during intense fights because they blend in so well with the environment. The sound design also leaves a lot to be desired as none of your weapons sound as impactful as they should.

Then there are the bugs! No, I am not talking about your average clipping issue, I mean real game-breaking bugs. For example, some doors won’t open unless you reload the previous save. Sometimes the bosses stand frozen and their health bar doesn’t show instantly despite me standing underneath them and emptying hot lead into their crotch. This goes on for a few seconds till things go back to normal (maybe when they start to register the pain of all those bullets) and I am back to… getting my ass kicked by the boss and its annoying floating minions. However, this is just the first level. More episodes, weapons, enemies, and bosses are to come later. According to the devs, there will soon be an Endless mode that will be multiplayer at some point.

Final Impression

There is a lot to like in S.C.A.R and you can smell the potential from a mile away. However, most of it is buried beneath a layer of technical issues and a lack of polish. That being said, I do believe that the core framework of the game is very solid and the Early Access period will only benefit the game. The game is reasonably priced for that matter as well. Despite its shortcomings, S.C.A.R is one promising retro shooter that you really need to put down on your list.

Disclaimer: Review copy provided by the developers with no riders.

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