Dark Light

We are barely at the end of the first quarter of this year and yet 2023 as we know it is already filled with a ton of Sci-fi extra-terrestrial games. Titles like Dead Space and Returnal for PC have already set the bar too high, and anyone that follow will surely be doomed. Despite having not-so-good-looking odds, the studio Mad Head Games is here to pitch in with their AAA-looking Indie title Scars Above.

Scars Above is a sci-fi third-person action-adventure shooter game developed by Mad Head Games and published by Prime Matter. It was released on February 28, 2023, for PlayStation 4,5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The game follows Kate Ward, a scientist, and astronaut who finds herself stranded on a hostile alien world after a mysterious structure appears in Earth’s orbit.

Left for Dead

The game follows Kate Ward, a scientist, and astronaut who is part of a team sent to explore a mysterious alien structure called the Metahedron that appears in Earth’s orbit. She crash-lands on an unknown planet full of hostile creatures and ancient secrets and must fight for her survival using her weapons, gadgets, and elemental reactions. 

Scars Above often combines exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving in a challenging and atmospheric setting. The player has to use Kate’s skills, equipment, and weapons to survive against deadly creatures and environmental hazards. The game also features a story that is riddled with the secrets of the alien world and its connection to Earth.

While the story is captivating at times, it largely comes off as shallow, even if it requires the player to uncover clues and documents that explain the backstory and lore of the alien world. The game also has some decent cutscenes and dialogues that develop the character of Kate Ward and her relationship with her AI companion.

Overall, the plot of the game comes across as vague and incomplete, leaving many questions unanswered or unresolved. The game also lacks the required level of character development for other characters, such as Kate’s crewmates or enemies.

Dead Stranding

The game’s combat is challenging but rewarding, requiring the player to use strategy, stealth, and skill to overcome enemies. The game offers various weapons such as pistols, rifles, shotguns, and grenades, as well as gadgets such as scanners, drones, and shields. The player can also craft items using resources found in the environment. The game’s enemies are diverse and unpredictable, ranging from small insects to giant beasts.

The game’s exploration is intriguing but frustrating, requiring the player to navigate through complex levels full of puzzles and secrets. The game offers a lot of environmental interaction such as climbing, jumping, swimming, and hacking. The game also has some platforming elements that add variety to the gameplay. However, the game’s level design is often confusing and inconsistent, making it hard to find the right path or objective. The game also suffers from some technical issues such as bugs, glitches, and crashes that may affect the overall gameplay experience.

Looks Aren’t Everything

Scars Above’s graphics are impressive, with detailed environments, realistic lighting and shadows, and smooth animations. The sound design is also immersive, with eerie music, ambient noises, and voice acting that create a sense of tension and mystery. However, its stellar display of visuals comes crashing down very often due to inconsistent animation quality and glitchy environmental effects. While a few of the latest updates have addressed this issue to some extent, there’s still room for improvement.

Like its visuals, the game also runs pretty well on PlayStation 5. It largely maintains 60 frames per second at a high resolution without compromising the visual quality. It plays smoothly during most of the time, with slight hitches in some areas. Scars Above is definitely one of the best-optimized games among the Indie titles on the PlayStation 5 that we have seen so far.

Real Talk

Despite Scars Above’s stellar visual presentation and challenging combat, it suffers from lackluster story-telling and repetitive gameplay. Thankfully it does manage to redeem itself to some extent by effectively blending its exploration with combat and puzzle-solving even though it may get frustrating at times. If you like titles like Dead Space, Returnal, or Control, it may be worth checking out. But considering its inconsistent animations and glitches, it’s best to wait for a sale on this one.


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