Scathe | PC Review
Scathe, developed by Damage State and published by Kwalee is a first-person shooter, bullet hell, action game. It is currently available on Windows PC, with both an Xbox and PlayStation version to follow in early 2023. Scathe will also feature full cross-play co-op.
You take on the role of Scathe, a monstrosity in and of himself, who is simply an errand boy for the Divine Creator. Your task is to destroy a maze, that is more like an impenetrable fortress, which is created by the Divine Creator's brother, who is known as Sacrilegious. As you advance your way through the spiralling labyrinth, you’ll pass through various zones with different enemies that you must tackle to progress. You’ll find new weapons and upgrades, and you will need to make decisions on what path to take as you progress through the levels. There are Hellstones for you to collect along the way, and you can choose to take on this frantic adventure solo, or you can co-op with up to four people.
Upon loading up the game, I instantly felt like I’d fired up Doom. There’s non-stop blood, guts and gore flying around, interrupted only by bullets and shell casings. The gameplay is fast-paced from the offset and doesn’t exactly ease you in gently, and quickly shows you what to expect as you progress through the game - chaos. The style of gameplay instantly felt really familiar to me, as I’ve certainly played my fair share of these games throughout my life.
Aside from the general sense of familiarity with the genre, however, I really didn’t understand what I was doing or why I was doing it. For quite a while I was just sprinting through hordes of enemies and making their brains explode, seeing items that I couldn’t pick up, not knowing how to progress to them. I knew I was supposed to collect Hellstones, but I didn’t know why. I truly spent a few hours entirely clueless, and that left me feeling really uninspired to carry on. While I’m all for games that don’t hold your hand -my current FromSoftware addiction proves that - giving a clear purpose doesn’t have to equate to hand-holding by developers. Unfortunately, for me to even find the actual purpose of the game I had to go onto the Steam description and at that point from what I’d experienced in game I was able to put the pieces together and make what I felt was progress.
There is an arsenal of weapons available in game, including shotguns and even what's known as a "Bow Blade" that fires saws. Whilst those weapons were great and fun to discover, they never had much of an impact for me in terms of enriching the gameplay because there wasn’t really any unique animations on death with this other weapons. Quite frankly, I spent more of my time just using the basic starting weapon more often than not. Yes, the guns packed a punch, but every new weapon just felt like more of the same for me.
The concept of Scathe is really cool. I like the idea of the entire game taking place within a maze, but I’d have liked more attention to have been brought to it because until that moment clicked for me, I was prepared to write a far more negative review than this, but once these things made a little sense to me the game became far more enjoyable for me. There is the option to play this game co-op with friends or other players online, but unfortunately, because I was playing pre-release, I never got a chance to enjoy this. I would imagine that Scathe would be far more fun with friends and there is definitely a degree of replayability within the game for me as there are different paths you can take to make your way through the maze and obviously each of these paths will differ slightly.
Scathe succeeds the best for me as a pickup and play game, a game to fill some time without having to commit hours of your time and a lot of brain power, however I can’t see myself getting excited to specifically play it. I can see that a lot has gone into Scathe, but I do feel like it requires just a little bit more polish and finesse to be great. It almost felt unique to me, but then it just kept falling short unfortunately, and simply felt like it was trying to be the new Doom.
Lj’s Rating: 3 exploding demons out of 5.
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