Scorn is an intentionally gruesome game with plenty of body horror. If you have a problem with body horror themes, it’s best to avoid it and this review.
I was talking to a friend about Scorn and they asked, “Is there one? the story?”. Yes, Scorn has a story. At some point, there will be a two-hour YouTube video showing that it has a clear and nuanced plot, or that it’s a metaphor for periods and erections, or both. Right off the bat, it’s about slipping off a stick and stumbling through the desert and finding yourself It’s about finding yourself in a strange, giant rotting machine of rock and flesh that’s been abandoned and rotting for decades, most of which looks a bit like a penis or a uterus. A lizard parasite attaches itself to your back and gradually changes your body. It’s about harsh squishy sounds and survival.
Scorn has no dialogue or map. It doesn’t really have a HUD, it doesn’t have quest markers, and your character won’t say something like, “Hmm… looks like a key. Maybe I’ll find two missing” after seeing a strange new device. It’ll open the way forward!” out loud. It won’t even draw attention to the next corridor you need to check. You just have to look around, experiment, and figure it out. I think I like it. I don’t know if I can recommend it.
I wholeheartedly approve of everything I described above. The prologue is probably the hardest part of Scorn, because at that point you’re out of tune with the world. For once, it’s almost a walk in the (wet) park. When you enter a new part of a monstrous machine and/or castle, you find a strange new biomechanical contraption with missing parts, and you must set out to find the MacGuffins to make it work – often with a rotating puzzle machine at some point. . Your MacGuffins might be three rings to open a polyp that pulls out a dying man, three keys to open holes in the teats of a giant worm cow with a head like one of the Pacman ghosts, or some corpses from some dead Krang. -TMNT-type mutants are put in a kind of mixer.
Many horror games that use gore and body horror do so without much intent beyond the idea that gore and body horror is gross, but the world of Scorn feels very intentional. Someone at Ebb Software knows exactly what every machine in that world is for and why. If hell I they know, but they are sure.
The first area is in the lower parts of the city-car thing and is the meatier part you see in trailers. It’s fleshy in part because HR Giger is possessed by some kind of parasitic hive-mind creature. The Cubs’ main soldiers look like chicken sausages, and they form stacks and chains that are part strangler vine, part architecture. You then ascend to a cleaner area – still ridiculous – filled with phallic stone architecture and statues of people. It is easy enough to see the chaotic reproduction, establishment and growth of parasites reflected in the more clinical systems and processes above. This is an interesting place that you want to understand, but at the same time you don’t.
Scorn pushes all his chips to the center of the body horror table. Even where the walls are not all drips, machines are made of nerves and tendons. This jump scare is not a horror game. It burns slowly; wants you to worry constantly. Perhaps, when you fall asleep, an image from the game will flash into your mind unconditionally: a strange network that looks like a brain, or the sight of hands digging into your stomach. Still, like Ed, I found him strangely beautiful rather than terrifying. And there’s a sense of mastery when you’re more at home.
There is a great sense of accomplishment in getting stuck in one of the machine puzzles and figuring it out. They are tough, but they just need you to slow down and understand Yes rotates where for which button. It’s incredible to see where you’re going next by looking out the window and orienting yourself. There are some frustrating things about Scorn, but I didn’t find the puzzles or navigation to be a problem. The problem is combat.
You are not meant to seek battle. You are very low on health and you will go down hard and easy like a statue in this game. You get weapons (your weapons are various attachments that you swap out in a fleshy handle), but ammo is scarce, only refillable in special dispensors, which will put a limited amount of ammo in your squid. It’s a rosy pink shell that you carry around like swings, and it’s also your health kit, stocked with refillable healing blisters. To be honest, the calamari was one of my favorite parts.
But it serves the irritation of the battle. Waiting and watching will usually give you a break in the rage-sausage patrol pattern so you can avoid them. There are some parts where several enemies fall down like a series of items, and if you don’t have enough health then or you miss a key shot with your shotgun, then you’ll probably need to reload until, Odd Luck, one of the battering rams leaves a gap for you to sprint through. . It doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. It gives a sense of relief.
Aside from the non-combat Discovery Tour mode, what Scorn really needs is evasion, as the attack is often not fast enough. There’s a boss fight later in the game where you spend 90% of it strafing in circles, although the main part is provoking the enemy into an attack. Why put multiple enemies attacking your game and not let you dodge them? I should avoid most fights anyway! Help me!
So, like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. I wanted to play Scorn. However, every time I turned it on, I was left with a series of expletives that were a combination of the words “alien”, “prick” and “sick”, a neat summary of the main themes of the text, as well as an expression of my hostility. I knew that at some point I was going to get really pissed off in a way that the game didn’t intend. The low point was an autosave glitch that forced me to start an entire section from scratch, losing 40 minutes of my progress – and Scorn isn’t a game you can cheese off if that happens. A patch should hopefully spare you a similar fate.
The world of Scorn is singular, carefully constructed, and intelligent. The road is left for you to explore – and you be able pass without any help – 10/10 is a bit game design. But the most upsetting aspects are being upset by accident rather than intention. I think as many people as possible should play it, but I can’t say you’ll enjoy it. I’m so glad it’s coming to Game Pass.