“There’s not too many games – I can’t even think of one off-hand right now – where you use a grav-gun to pick up the enemy,” Glen Schofield says. “You’re usually picking up things, right?” The Striking Distance CEO makes a good point – and indeed the Gravity Restraint Projector (or GRP for short) wielded by protagonist Jacob in The Callisto Protocol is one of the things that sets this sci-fi horror apart from Schofield’s previous venture into the genre with the much-admired Dead Space.
In E377 we get an extended look at the game, including an exclusive glimpse at its thrilling opening sequence, as Jacob (Josh Duhamel) is captured and locked up in a prison facility on Jupiter’s “dead moon”. Yet it’s not the convicts or the other guards he has to worry about, as the place is soon overrun by hideous mutants – ones which, after a while, you’ll get the ability to grab with the GRP, slamming them into spiked walls or whirring machinery with predictably gory results.
It’s unsettling to have these creatures – collectively known as the Biophage – writhing close to your face, which, of course, is entirely intentional. “We play with that distance a lot,” Schofield says. “Because absolutely we want the first time you do that to get a scare – and yeah, each time you get a little more used to that, but that feeling of ‘Hey, this monster’s a little too close to me’ makes you uncomfortable.”
And that’s before we get to the other key point of difference: this time it’s not the limbs you’re shooting but the tentacles. The Biophage are infected with a virus that causes some of them to mutate: this process can take different forms (some will grow heads and limbs back, others will gain a layer of pustulent armour), but whatever the case, the result is a tougher, more fearsome opponent. The game, Schofield says, has been balanced so you can make the most of some enjoyable-feeling weaponry while still worrying about the amount of ammo you have left: a full clip mightn’t be enough to take a mutated enemy down.
We learn plenty more about The Callisto Protocol in our expansive cover feature, including what it was like to work with The Boys’ Karen Fukuhara, why Schofield sees Duhamel as the Tom Hanks to his Spielberg, and how the game’s hidden ‘beta paths’ make its robust campaign all the more replayable.
Talking of games where starting over is part of the deal, E377 also features a deep dive into the making of Edge’s 2021 Game Of The Year, Deathloop, with Arkane explaining how its time-loop shooter came to be, alongside a generous helping of gorgeous production art. We visit Japan to report from a revitalised, outward-facing Tokyo Game Show, and talk to the people behind a range of preservation efforts that are attempting to safeguard the medium’s history for future generations. One of those is Lars Wingefors, who has been acquiring more than just old games lately: we find out what the Embracer Group CEO has planned for the range of studios now under his company’s wing.
The theme of looking back continues with a reflection on King’s Field, and how FromSoftware’s flawed experiment eventually led to it spawning a whole new genre. In Hype, we take a closer look at the System Shock reboot, and find out how Night Dive Studios is staying faithful – but not too faithful – to Looking Glass’s PC classic, alongside previews of Pentiment, The Evil In Me, Dragon Quest Treasures and more. And in a packed Play section, we get a little nostalgic with Return To Monkey Island, and deliver our verdicts on Splatoon 3, Metal: Hellsinger, Case Of The Golden Idol, The Excavation Of Hob’s Barrow, and Roadwarden. All this and more can be found in E377, on sale (opens in new tab) from today.