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Review | Scorn

Contempt

Scorn is finally here after it was initially announced back in 2014. You are a weird, freakish character who is tossed into an unforgiving, gray world filled with H.R. Giger-inspired locations and creature designs. Over 6 to 8 hours, you’ll stick phallic objects into bunghole-shaped bio-machinery, shoot biologically powered guns at weird flesh puppets, and it’s available as part of your Game Pass subscription. So, let’s break this weird, fleshy mess of a game down.

The Backstory

Scorn has no writing, voice acting, or written words of any kind. “You are a weird flesh humanoid-shaped creature who wakes up in some terrible place and is thrown into a strange world that wants to kill you” is the entire backstory.  The first few hours of the game are entirely puzzle-based. This is a fully 3D world played from the first-person perspective. Everything is flesh-like and biomechanical in nature. Every part of this world seems alive, and there for you to poke phallic-shaped objects into things that look like butts. The puzzles themselves tend to be extremely straightforward with minimal trial and error. You’ll most likely find yourself wandering around with no clue what to do until an object lights up that you hadn’t noticed you could interact with before and a light goes off over your head.

There is nothing in this entire game in the way of a path being given. You will stumble in this disturbingly fleshy-filled series of bland, and honestly quite ugly corridors. I reviewed the game on PC with settings at max and was surprised at just how ugly the majority of the game is. A few sections look great, but they are a rare exception in an otherwise thoroughly mediocre-looking game. While the first few hours were so slow-paced and full of bland puzzle work the rest of my time was spent coming to grips with an awful combat system. You eventually unlock a handle that can have a variety of ends attached to it. All disturbingly biomechanical, of course, even the ammo. First up is a nearly useless and infuriating to use piston rod style attachment. This doesn’t run on ammo but requires a cooldown period. The other ranged weaponry has extremely limited ammo which can be found in finite amounts throughout each level.

When you have ammo they felt ok to use on a mouse & keyboard and a bit too stiff with a controller. I was able to fine-tune the aim but with the surprisingly large number of enemies that you’ll face as the game progresses, I found mouse aim to be far superior in being able to stay alive. Health replenishments are similar in their finite nature within each act. This was especially frustrating as the game routinely takes away a health segment from you during unavoidable cutscenes. Add in the fact that almost every enemy can do unlimited ranged attacks, and one of the bigger ones can charge you down non-stop and the combat becomes unbearable. Even with bland, uninteresting puzzles, mediocre graphics, and terrible combat I could have found something worth praising if the story and audio were good.  Sadly, they fair no better.

Story?  What Story

The title revels in giving you absolutely nothing. Even after five full hours of playtime I couldn’t tell you what the story is about any more than I could have after five minutes. As stated previously, there is zero voice acting or writing in the game. The UI is as minimalistic as it gets, and you can’t even choose to save. Instead, you must rely on checkpoints which routinely forced me to replay entire sections of the game when the combat reared its ugly and unbalanced head.

Audio-wise the sound effects are ok, but there is zero music to speak of. You get the occasional tone and light ambient noise but that is it, and it drains a game already devoid of any fun or life of having some type of personality to it. In the end, I keep feeling like every single part of this game is either boring to experience or infuriating to play. If it had stuck with the puzzle style of early on and mixed in a minimal amount of combat, it could have just been mediocre. Instead, we are handed a game with far too many enemies to fight and no way to do it enjoyably. I felt no tension while fighting anything, instead, just dread because of how unenjoyable every single combat encounter without ammo was and that is most of them.

Control wise there is no jump button, just an aim, reload, and use. You have an inventory that shows each fleshy attachment and how many bio-ammo pieces are currently embedded in them. Your tiny ammo and health squid monster thing will never not be massively disturbing.  So much behind this title seems focused on being weird and out there, instead of engaging and enjoyable. It is a routinely miserable experience for every single one of your senses with only the occasional burst of creativity for your vision. That’s what really gets me in the end. How could something that has taken so long to come out release in this state? I’ve played games in this genre before, and they can be fantastic. There is nothing scary here, nor is there any type of hook in any area. Was the thought of “let’s make some cool-looking sets and then stick long rods into tight holes” the entire sales pitch?

In Conclusion

I have enjoyed some action-adventure horror games out there. Limited ammo and health reserves can be a great tool for upping the tension and a great story helps make it worth seeing things through.  Scorn has none of that. It is bland, boring, plays poorly, and excels in no areas.

Reviewed onPC
Available onXbox Series X|S, PC
Release DateOctober 14th, 2022
DeveloperEbb Software
PublisherKepler Interactive
RatedM for Mature

Scorn

$39.99 (Game Pass)
4

Bad

4.0/10

Pros

  • Interesting Concepts

Cons

  • Terrible Combat
  • Boring Puzzles
  • Ugly Aesthetic
  • Zero Story
  • No Music

Jesse 'Doncabesa' Norris

Proud father of two, lucky to have a wife far too good for me. I write a ton of reviews, am a host on the You Had Me At Halo podcast, and help fill out anywhere I can for our site.

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Discussion:

  1. Oh! That’s not very nice to hear. But the game seems much polarizing so far with many 4s and 5s and 6s and also 8s and 9s. I already have it downloaded and I’ll see for myself tonight :giphy:

  2. I kinda feel bad for those who had to play it for the review, it always looked so… slow and not fun on these videos we’ve seen in the past.

    Every game has it’s public tho, and i guess the game’s ambientation is good

  3. Avatar for Staffy Staffy says:

    Yeah and we had Skill Up saying in his preview that whatever this is, he’s very into it. I’ll see for myself once I play it. I was actually slightly hoping for a sleeper with this one.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG48_EqhCME
  4. I never understood the appeal to be honest. The art is cool. For 20 minutes.

  5. Been looking forward to this since 2014, played at 6am this morning and am really loving it. This game throws out normal gaming cliche’s and just throws you into an environment of despair and does not coddle you. I love it, and to get an entire alien world of Giger inspired environments is incredible.

    I understand people wanting a more normal “game” experience may be turned off but some of us want something new and different and this hits it in spades. Their are tons of “normal” horror games and walking sims so I’m glad this is something really different.

    Also the game runs and looks crazy good on the Series X, a very next gen experience, My only graphical complaint is the lack of HDR. wish the Series X could simulate HDR for it like it can with back compat games. Other than that the game looks and runs amazing and is something very very different which is a great thing.

    Also being on gamepass mean next to no risk, I’ll probably end up buying it outright just to always have.

  6. The game seems really polarizing, judging by websites and Youtube reviews. Some are really loving it, others not so much. Thankfully it is on Game Pass, so I can try it out.

  7. In an odd way the game so far reminds me a little of the old Kings Field games by “From” as in the story and direction are very unclear and the entire game is really trying to figure out WTF is going on and every corner concerning.

    This is a game you can play simply for the atmosphere

  8. Avatar for Vivir Vivir says:

    I mentally checked out of this game once I saw the gameplay.

    Sadly my initial opinion of it seemed to be more or less correct off reading your review and others that I follow.

    That’s tough.

  9. It’s going to be very polarizing but “correct” is really the wrong word to use here, if this is not your thing that is fine but this is not an “objectively” bad game it is just very very different from typical games.

    It’s pretty much an art house game and some people will not like it but for me I love it so far.

  10. Avatar for Vivir Vivir says:

    I’m speaking for me, not for anyone else.

    Maybe I should of been more clear in that.

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