There are not many games that can capture the sense of scale and grandeur of Shadow of the Colossus. There might be a handful of games that attempt to put the players in the shoe of a hero that is facing a threat several times larger than his size, but it is harder to pull this combination in a way that not only impresses, but also ends up being fun to play. Games like Shadow of the Colossus and Attack of Titan have managed to pull it off to some extent however with the release of Extinction, we have a new challenger in this category.
There is a lot to do in Extinction but the game still feels like it never delivers on its potential. As an action game that focuses on fighting giant sized monsters, Extinction lands with a soft thud in the current gaming market. This is not to say that the game is bad, rather that there are some baffling design choices and corners cut in order to get the game out in its current condition, and this doesn’t help in making the game any fun. It is not hard to appreciate the ambitions of the developers here, who wanted to deliver on a journey that promises an epic adventure, but it falls apart rather quickly once you realize the repetitiveness of it.
Extinction is set during a time period when humanity faced all sort of threats ranging from giant hulking trolls to jackals. The story is relatively simple for a game that promises such a grand scale and it is ultimately a little too disappointing. The story begins with an introduction to the Kingdom of Delorum where you take control of the two main characters Avil and Xandra. They are the last members of an ancient order called the Sentinels who were considered the savior of the world. They have protected humanity from the invasion of Ravenii, the giant trolls that are the main threat in Extinction.
The issue with the story in Extinction is that there is no proper sense of progression. The game relies on a missed based structure where you undertake a mission that is set on a fixed location. Most of the objectives that you get during the mission revolve around protecting humans leading to the end fight with one of the Ravenii. As an action game, the combat feels pretty basic with a single button dedicated to attacks. You can try to chain together combos mixing together the timed button presses leading to juggling in the air, but it still all boils down to simple button mashing since the enemies are barely a threat.
The game always feels like it was meant to be an action game where you killed the Ravenii with stylish moves but then the developers decided to add some more side content in order to increase the appeal of the game. This doesn’t seem to work well for them since the best part of the gameplay is easily the fight with Ravenii while the exploration in cities and rescuing humans end up being one of the worst aspects for the story mode. Thankfully the verticality of the main characters helps you perform some nice moves and even though combat with the normal sized enemies is rather dumb and disappointing, it is still enjoyable to some extent depending on your tolerance with this repetitive design.
The story mode is rather short and most of the cutscenes and major story exposition happens off-screen, which can leave a bad taste in mouth after the promising animated opening. It is hard to shake off the feeling that the budget for the game was rather restricted since even the animated scenes don’t offer much animation. The actual story progress is made through the dialogue boxes that will pop up during certain key segments of the mission. It is hard to feel connected to the characters and care for the story with how little attention is paid to this key aspect here.
The combat feels a little too dull in the start but once you finish more of the game, it is possible to unlock new skills and upgrade stats for the main character. The fight with the Ravenii is supposed to be the highlight of the game but it ends up feeling repetitive the more you deal with them. They are usually handled through a procedural generated design where certain parts of their body will have armor for protection. You will need to find a way to beak it before you can deal damage to them. Speaking of which, damage is dealt through a special move called Rune Strike. While normally you can use it to slash any part of their body, killing them will require you to fill out a special meter for the Rune Strike and then climb their body to directly target their neck. To fill out the Rune Strike meter, you will need to do repetitive tasks like saving humans or killing jackals. The final blow to the Ravenii is exciting to deliver in the start but once you to do it the umpteenth time, it is hard to feel the same excitement.
The story mode is not the only thing offered in Extinction, you can also try the Skirmish, Daily Challenge and Extinction mode. Depending on your tolerance to the gameplay and how much you have liked it, these modes might help give the game a little more replay value. Still, they don’t really help hide the flaws of the main story mode.
Extinction Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: You are one of the world’s last Sentinels, a soldier named Avil equipped with the skills to battle the endless wave of Ravenii. Fight massive brutes and their minions across a sprawling countryside, defending cities and rescuing refugees torn from their homes.
Extinction feels like a game that could have been a fun side project for a studio developed on a modest budget, instead of being sold at full price as a retail game that struggles to offer enticing content for its asking price.