Scars Above is a skilled and often enthralling sci-fi adventure that ventures beyond the stars, yet it never achieves the level of intrigue that it implies if given more attention to its intriguing elemental weaponry.
Kate Ward is a NASA astronaut and scientist without any military training. She is on the SCAR, the Sentient Contact Assessment and Response team, which is sent to investigate this massive structure that suddenly appeared in the Earth's orbit. She must survive, track down the three missing crew members, and perhaps return to her home planet.
Scars Above is a third-person action game that specializes on elemental weaponry and gadget use. Most of the time you will be exploring the planet in a very linear fashion, discovering new weapons, figuring out how to use them effectively against each foe, and putting your character on fire to round it up.
The downside is that you'll spend quite a few hours limited to a few basic options before the game decides that it's time to go wild and unleash the best options — when that happens, the adventure comes to an end, and you'll likely encounter some disturbing pacing issues.
Kate scans every new adversary and keeps a log of its weaknesses, as well as methods to overcome them.
One example of many is freezing an adversary in its tracks while then firing a ray gun to damage its weak points. Water is a fantastic electrical conductor, and you may use it to create the so-called wet combos. A chemical weapon is another option, as you smash them into thin ice while providing you enough time to eliminate them.
Despite the interesting tactical scope, Scars Above lacks the desire to fully explore all of the possibilities of this system. Apart from the examples above, they are heavily scripted, mostly disregarding the environment – this is a nice addition to the coldest sections of the snow-based levels because it adds an additional layer of stress and urgency.
A little imagination might go a long way to ensuring memorable plays to show your friends, but you may also overlook any free-form elemental combos, other than those which were evidently planned for the adversary.
The majority of levels in Scars Above are linear, meaning that you will never be sidetracked by the mysterious new world; don't expect anything remotely close to an open world; these biomes are linear and favor combat sets and puzzles over exploration.
Sometimes you have these examination sections that really break up the game. In first-person mode, you must investigate a small area or room to discover investigation clues that may help you understand what is going on. A later area will require some reasoning and backtracking, although it will be somewhat taxing.
With the discovery of knowledge cubes throughout the maps, you'll unlock an ability tree, but looking for new enemies and collecting information from other sources also increases your knowledge level. Around halfway, you'll begin stumbling upon one every 30 seconds, as if the adventure is over.
As Kate progresses, you may be dissatisfied with the excessive use of invisible walls in areas where you would be expected to go, or a noticeable disregard for proper collision detection. At times, this is particularly noticeable if Kate is attempting to outrun a boss within a limited arena with an awkward glue-self.
Although it may be difficult to anticipate where your adventure will take you, you will often notice clipping issues as Kate slides through narrow paths. It's a minor detail in a planet that looks good, sometimes superb, especially the areas that are more suffocating, but you can enjoy the sights as they are often quite enjoyable.
Kate is a skilled protagonist who is adept at the popular dodge roll, which is her main method of avoiding danger. A few animations need to be tweaked, particularly the stiff method of falling from a ledge, which requires little effort to soften the fall. It's a shame, considering that the overall animation is decent.
The ten-hour campaign can be quite challenging at times, especially the boss battles, as it's a matter of looking for weaknesses, discovering elemental weaknesses, and learning how to utilize some of the arena's mechanics in our favor.
The late game can also be redesigned in a bid to prolong the campaign's longevity, often by spawning familiar enemies in the exact same spots as before, thereby giving it an unnecessary slanted sleeve.
Scars Above is a sci-fi fantasy story that skimps on the epic part, but it could use some tweaking, including some more elemental combos and world exploration. There are plenty of challenging combat to enjoy, and there are enticing places to discover, but the ending comes across as being so superficial.
If you aren't the overly demanding type, Scars Above is still a worthwhile journey — just turn off your brain, let yourself go, and accept the outcome for what it is.
The score for this activity is 7/10.
- Elemental combos are fun to use
- Gadgets add another tactical layer to combat
- Challenging boss fights
- Occasional puzzles positively break the action flow
- Elemental combos could do with expanded environmental possibilities
- Exploration is mostly linear
- Tired recycling of bosses and later levels
The Scars Above review code is provided by the publisher. You may view MP1st's review and scoring guidelines here.