Scorn Made Me Waste My Lunch With Its Frustrating Game Design – Review
Relatively early in the Scorn run, your character’s body is invaded by a four-legged alien creature. This creature gives you the ability to use the game’s gun-like weapons, but it comes at a price. Occasionally, the creature will dig its claws even deeper into your stomach, taking damage and wasting some of the rare precious health refills Scorn gives you. In many ways, this idea of things that are fighting each other cooperating becomes a design theme for Scorn. For every vomiting-inducing body horror scene, you’ll also lose your lunch due to the game’s technical and design issues. Like creature and protagonist, it just feels like Scorn is fighting against itself every time. step of the way.
Disgusting on the outside, disappointing on the inside
At its core, Scorn is a survival horror game with a heavy dose of puzzle-solving. It’s probably reminiscent of games like Resident Evil, but Scorn is a different beast. Where other games are about jump scares and terror, Scorn just wants to have you kicking off your lunch with gruesome displays of the many ways you can be gutted. Whether you’re into gore or not, it’s great because it’s so different from almost everything else in the genre. Between the focus on body horror rather than scares and the HR Giger-inspired aesthetic, Scorn easily rises above the ocean of horror games as something different.
Unfortunately, trying to be different, Scorn also has quite a few problems. I’m not just talking about technical issues, which popped up from time to time during my game. These weren’t groundbreaking and most of them are supposed to be fixed in a day one patch. Instead, it’s the game’s design that’s lacking.
For example, the game has no way to save manually. This is not a problem if your game has a good checkpoint system. Scorn has none. Several times in my five or so hours with Scorn, I would get assassinated by one of the game’s enemies or hit a random bug that halted progress. Instead of being able to go back a few minutes, I would often lose 30 minutes or more of progress. As you can imagine, it gets incredibly frustrating when playing such a puzzle-driven game. This kills any momentum Scorn may have created up to this point.
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It’s not like Scorn’s puzzles are easy either. Personally, I was able to get through most of them fairly quickly, but I’ve heard quite a few other players struggling with a few of the puzzles. It might sound like humble bragging, but what I really mean is that you might find yourself breathing a sigh of relief after completing a difficult puzzle only to have to do it again because you took a died at the wrong time. The checkpoint system is unnecessarily punitive at times, which doesn’t add to the horror significantly unless you’re just a punishment glutton.
Bland mechanics in an engaging world
Perhaps even worse than that is that none of the mechanics are that remarkable. As I mentioned above, Scorn looks and sounds phenomenal, but the combat and puzzles are probably best described as present. Of course they are there. You can do both and they mostly work, but they’re just types of puzzles you’ve completed and weapons you’ve fired in other games. Most likely, those games handled them better too.
It’s deeply disappointing because, again, Scorn looks like something totally alien. If the puzzles or guns played in there and felt unique, it would add to the game world in a significant way. Instead, it almost feels by the numbers, which really stands out when you compare it to the world you’re exploring.
On top of that, combat is often crippled by enemies with odd trajectories. Half the time, if you back up and ignore enemies, they’ll disappear into the environment and you won’t have to deal with them. I don’t know if that’s what the devs were going for, but if the best way to play a game is to just ignore it, that doesn’t seem like good game design. Even the enemies you have to fight can often be easily manipulated into running into a door where they can’t attack you. Perhaps that’s why the game felt so unscary outside of the body horror. With no real threat, I could just sleepwalk from one puzzle to another.
If I sound like I’m being too tough, then I need you to imagine me as your high school basketball coach. I really think Scorn has the potential and the flash to be a star, but he needs to focus on the fundamentals to get that foundation that every great game needs. I’m not tough because it’s bad, but because I can see how good it should be. It’s all there for a video game that really dives deep into body horror while immersing you in an alien world. Unfortunately, much of that is held back by questionable design choices and weird bugs. If you can stomach that, you’re in for a treat for otherworldly visuals. If you can’t, this might be a game you can comfortably ignore.
|+||Exquisite Body Horror That Will Make You Glad Not To Eat|
|+||An alien world full of intrigue|
|–||Uninventive puzzles and combat|
|–||Punitive checkpoint system leads to frustration|
|–||Several technical issues hamper the experience|