Simplicity in video games can always be as rewarding as something that offers complexity and deepness. Sometimes you just want to sit back, fire up a game, be given a sword then allowed to unleash hell on whatever gets in your way. In some fantasy action games, you’re given a blade, bad guys to fight and the means to turn them all into heaping piles of bloody cadavers.
Games like God of War and Darksiders grant you inhuman strength, lightning reflexes, various combos, powers and weapons to overpower enemies who are twice your size and in far greater numbers. Combat is fluid, you feel empowered and you’re ultimately able to use everything provided to just carve your way through hoards of bad guys and gigantic beasts who can strike you down with one blow. They even have deep level-up mechanics for your character to become stronger and faster. Others like Shadow of the Colossus place you as someone skilled in combat but still only human, where the foes are far greater in size and power and where more than brute force will be needed to take them down. Anything that offers the chance to successfully take down something far larger than yourself will surely have you feeling like you’ve overcome the impossible.
Here we have the action video game Extinction from developers Iron Galaxy (Killer Instinct, Divekick) and publishers Mobus Games. An action game which grants the means to cut down foes, some who come in sheer numbers and others the size of mountains. Not only are these nefarious enemies your opponents, but also the bad visuals, controls, music, and gameplay brings about a sheer jaw-dropping realization of just how god-awful this game is.
Your task is to go to numerous towns killing Orcs and save civilians by teleporting them to safety while building enough energy to kill giant Ogres. The game is a case of lather-rinse-repeat. Kill some Orcs, save civilians, kill the Ogres. Kill some Orcs, save civilians, kill the Ogres. Kill some Orcs, save civilians, kill the Ogres. The reason why is never emphasized as you don’t see any other characters except through a box at the corner of the screen, nor do you see any results from your successful attempts to keep the enemy at bay, taking away any investment you may have in the otherwise very humdrum storyline.
Your character Avil can climb up buildings like walls and towers to gain higher ground, but you’re constantly wrestling with the camera just to gain a bearing of your surroundings and see where you’re going. You need to gain more energy by taking out Orcs and saving civilians which builds up your Runestrike meter. This special attack is used for taking out the Ogre’s body parts before climbing on its back and decapitating it. Some Ogres are even wearing armor and taking out the armor will also fill up your Runestrike meter.
You can upgrade your abilities but it’s a very standard, small skillset and doesn’t really add to any “fun” you might have with this game. Avil has a special move called a whip grapple, where he can whip into certain objects and swing into the air, gaining more height and allowing you to reach high areas. Don’t expect Spider-man levels of acrobatic fun because your character just gets propelled in any direction without any flight control or fluidity and most of the time you’re propelled in a direction away from where you want to go. You lose all sense of orientation and have to scramble quickly to get back on the right path which wastes what very little time you have to save the town.
The combat in this game is not exactly Prince of Persia or God of War standards, as it’s far too rigid, cumbersome and just so boring for it to be enjoyable. The combat works using an auto-lock system where Avil will hack the nearest enemy he sees and stay on that enemy hacking away using the same boring looking combo every time. This is also very unhelpful when you’re surrounded by enemies as you can’t change direction while attacking to swing at another enemy coming at you from a different direction. Instead, you either have to stop attacking your targeted enemy to move to another or just hack away until the enemy has fallen. This doesn’t help when you’re expected to teleport the civilians to safety while attacking the Orcs at the same time, because you can’t react fast enough to everything that’s happening.
The systems that you have to work with aren’t fluid enough so it’s impossible to carry out multiple tasks at once, making combat and moving around a dreary, drawn-out and dull grind. Fighting the Ogres is just as frustrating, not because they’re difficult to take down (they’re actually really easy, even the armored ones) but because you need to do all the stupid, repetitive and cumbersome tasks to build up enough power to pull off your Runestrike and they’re too far apart and few in number for you to be able to build your Runestrike in time. You’ll have trouble building up your power in time as the Ogres are destroying the city and it gets especially frustrating when there’s more than one Ogre attacking the Town because nothing in this game allows speed, flexibility or fluid motion.
The game uses Unreal Engine 4, but you wouldn’t know from the screenshots considering how unbelievably crap the game looks. Colors are bland, the humans look uglier than the Orcs and Ogres, there are no special effects, no physics and the only things that look good in this game are the hand-drawn anime-style cutscenes.
Sound effects are unsatisfying and basic, with a standard whoosh and slash for sword strikes, standard snarls for enemies, annoying voice acting from all the characters but the one that takes the cake has to be your companion Xandra. Xandra has to be one of the worse companions in the history of anything. Listening to her is the equivalent of taking an Ice-Pick and shoving it through each ear. She repeats herself constantly and doesn’t shut up. She’ll keep telling you the same about the Orcs, about your attacks, about the good job you’re doing, about the Ogres, about the civilians, you feel like screaming and slamming your face on the keyboard or throwing the controller out the window everytime she speaks.
If you can stand playing Extinction for more than half an hour you can probably check out the skirmish mode where you can see levels created by whoever else is in the same frame of mind to play this game, in addition to the extinction mode where waves of enemies come at you. But really, why would you want to subject yourself to different variations of the same psychological torture?
This game has literally nothing to offer. There’s no excitement to be had, no enjoyment, no sense of accomplishment and it’s absolutely criminal that they have the audacity to charge full price for this game and double for the deluxe edition! It looks awful, it sounds awful, it plays awful. This is what the video game industry has come to. That it’s perfectly acceptable to develop and publish the absolute bare minimum content and charge $60+ for it. That statement applies to big budget titles as well. Do you want to take down gigantic enemies in style and be rewarded for your efforts? God of War, Darksiders, Shadow of the Colossus and many others are all worthy of being added to that list while Extinction has absolutely no business being mentioned on the same list.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Extinction for the PC provided by Modus Games.