Blood, guts and carnage boom through the TV screen, as developer Striking Distance put protagonist Jacob Lee through the wringer in The Callisto Protocol.
Since its first debut at The Game Awards in 2020, fans of the survival horror genre have eagerly been awaiting game director Glen Schofield’s follow-up to the beloved Dead Space. From the 12 minutes of footage shown off behind closed doors at Gamescom, I’m glad to say it looks to be living up to the high bar already set out by its predecessor and fans’ expectations. So, why I’m slightly worried about its December release date?
For anyone unaware, The Callisto Protocol is set in the year 2320 with Jacob Lee (played by Josh Duhamel) held captive at Black Iron prison, only to find himself in the path of an alien invasion that supposedly was started by the prison’s warden. Needless to say, shenanigans are afoot.
Only formed three years ago, San Ramon-based studio Striking Distance used its time at Gamescom to focus on Mutations… and lots of them. The aliens, known as Biophages, come in different shapes and sizes. One of them is a creepy crawler that menacingly scurries around the floor, walls and ceiling like a Licker from Resident Evil. Some may occasionally have infectious that get out of hand.
Others that are infected by the mutation may grow in size the longer you leave them, making for perfect nightmare material. I’m not sure if it was the twitching or the spluttering of whatever the vile alien was made from but it was tense, to say the least. Shooting the Biophages head clean off created an even worse situation, as tentacles poured out like John Carpenter’s The Thing (something the developers took inspiration from).
Throughout the video presentation, Jacob has a gravity gun that can pull or launch Biophages’ into all manner of things – best of all, a wood chipper. Brilliant. Another cliffhanger has our lead character shutting a hatch door on one of the creature’s hands, only to see it limp off in a grotesque but glorious fashion. The final sequence is a set piece where Jacob rushed down a tunnel filled with water only to be caught up in a giant blade only to meet an untimely grizzly end. Nasty.
We’re told that The Callisto Protocol is made up of five elements: Atmosphere, Tension, Brutality, Helplessness and Humanity. This makes me excited. So does everything I’ve just mentioned. What has me concerned is that the game is not yet playable. At less than four months until release day, it is slightly concerning.
Instead, press were given the aforementioned 12-minute footage while those on the consumer show floor were “treated” to an experience of sorts surrounding The Callisto Protocol. That experience in question, which had queues that lasted at least 30 minutes, has people stand on a marker in front of a big screen before a skeleton appears in front. It then mimics your every move for an awkward amount of time until one of the Biophages attacks and presumably dismembers your skeleton. And that’s it.
People can share their reactions on social media via a QR code for whatever reason but I have no idea why they would want. And why no gameplay? That’s surely the main reason people come to these events. With so many delays happening and the game being positioned so close to the end of the year, I have a funny feeling that it might slip to 2023. Or it might just go to protocol. We’ll see.
The Callisto Protocol is scheduled to launch across PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on December 2nd, 2022.
For more coverage of the gaming event in Cologne, Germany, make sure to check out T3’s roundups of the best new trailers at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2022, including Dead Island 2.