While Scorn may have come into being in 2014 when Serbian studio Ebb Software revealed test footage for the game, I (along with the rest of the world) didn’t really find out about it until 2020’s Xbox Showcase. Stuck between the atypical games We’ve seen this macabre, twisted and explicit horror title a thousand times. After a few delays (the pandemic is hitting again) Scorn is out. what is this game The developers have been very calm and with an eye-catching art motif, I’m certainly excited to see what Ebb Software has gifted us with.
All you need to know about Scorn’s plot is that you are something that wakes up somewhere and needs to go somewhere else. It’s not that I’m lazy or reductive… that’s it. Okay, I’ll embellish something. You’re some kind of twisted humanoid who wakes up in some facility and something pushes you forward. Freedom? Curiosity? Revenge? No idea. Even when the game ended (suddenly) I just shrugged at my lack of knowledge or connection. Right, so Scorn isn’t here to tell us a compelling story, no problem, let’s move on.
Now what the HELL is Scorn? It’s part walking simulator, part puzzler, and part first-person shooter. Let’s tackle what people are excited about, the first person shooter part of the game. Pick up your hype and throw it in the bin because the FPS angle of this game is terrible. You have a couple of weapons that work extremely poorly, and there’s no way to really avoid enemies other than running around in circles and hoping you don’t get hit. Enemies take a lot of hits to get knocked down and ammo is extremely scarce. There’s no real combat feedback and the only advice is to shoot it past the enemies and hope they don’t wipe you out. This is your first reminder that this isn’t an FPS game, it’s a puzzle game?
Yes, is the answer to that. But is it a good puzzle game? Not really. As you explore this facility, you’ll spend most of your time flipping switches and turning things on. These can be translated as small and large puzzles. Well, they’re not bad by any means, but they’re really dull. When it comes to art design, it can be difficult to know what you’re actually doing, and while this type of work works, it doesn’t help that said puzzles are neither interesting nor difficult. They exist only to keep you moving forward, and as you may have learned from the storyline section, there’s no real desire to actually move forward.
Scorn is at its strongest when it is a walking simulator. This game is absolutely beautiful. Well it isn’t, but it is. OK, I’ll explain. The game is heavily inspired by the artworks of HR Giger (who designed Alien’s Xenomorph) and Polish artist Zdzislaw Besinski (who was the inspiration for games like Lust For Darkness, The Medium and Returnal). While I’m not familiar with Besinski’s work, many of us will be familiar with Giger’s. The world of Scorn is designed as if anything could be a living organism, the walls themselves look like a mix of bone and tissue, and the design has an undeniable sexual element. Lust For Darkness, Agony and Succubus followed the sexual explicitness of Giger’s work, but Scorn is very careful about his use of it, wisely choosing gross rather than titillating. This is the most “enjoyable” part of Scorn, seeing what horrors lurk around every corner and as far as my time playing the game was the only shred of enjoyment I had.
As I just said, the art design on display is just phenomenal and the sound design is great too. Curiously, the lack of a real score leaves moments of absolute silence, not even the sound of footsteps. It’s an odd choice, it only affects the start of the game and introduces some music, it didn’t work for me but that’s subjective. Playing on PC I got a very stable 4K/60 with some expected Unreal Engine 4 dips that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game. A terrible checkpoint system forced me to start a whole chapter over again, so be very careful.
How do I summarize this? There is no story, it doesn’t really have to be, but I would have wished for a bit more. The fight had to be scrapped entirely, and while the puzzles were unexciting, they did the job. But Scorn does what I think it wanted to do. Giving you a series of paintings to stare at and marvel at. In this regard, Scorn does an excellent job. I can certainly appreciate an artistic walking simulator and watch games like SOMA that had a bad combat system and removed it completely and the game was much better because of that. For other players who benefit from more engaging systems, I don’t think you’ll get much out of it, to be honest. I was reminded of two excellent titles while playing, Alien: Isolation and Prey (2017), which could float your boat a bit more. So yes I understand Scorn but it didn’t quite work for me.
Scorn was reviewed using the Xbox Game Pass purchased by the reviewer.
Publisher: Kepler Interactive Developer: ebb software Release date: October 14, 2022 Rated on: PC/Xbox Game Pass