The Callisto Protocol Is Not The “AAAA” Experience We Were Promised

Is it becoming a norm for companies to make promises they don't intend to keep?

Glen Schofield’s The Callisto Protocol was expected to be the best of the survival horror genre. It was supposed to be a next-generation spiritual successor of games like the Dead Space. However, the title failed to live up to its hype and couldn’t be any of those things it was promised to be.

The Callisto Protocol was developed by Striking Distance Studios and published by a Korean Studio called KRAFTON. KRAFTON made several promises before the game’s release. One of those promises was that The Callisto Protocol would be a Quad A (AAAA) game.

The above image is taken from KRAFTON's Investor Relations Report.
The above image is taken from KRAFTON’s Investor Relations Report.

Alongside that promise, there was also a guarantee of the highest level of quality, maximum horror experience, and distinguished action mechanics.

Indeed, The Callisto Protocol does feature some new action mechanics, such as dodging, crouching, and a stealth system. None of these are found anywhere in the Dead Space franchise or the games that heavily inspired The Callisto Protocol.

Fans reported that the game only utilized one CPU core even if multiple cores were available. And according to them, this single-core utilization was the reason behind the game’s bad performance.

With all of the issues with this game’s performance, it is definitely not worthy of being called an AAAA title. Most modern games are better optimized and don’t need patches every other day to keep running smoothly.

Aside from that, all other promises made by KRAFTON are yet to be fulfilled. The game features terrible performance and stuttering. KRAFTON released a patch to fix the stuttering issues and improve the performance on PC, but that hasn’t completely removed the problem.

KRAFTON then heads on to announce 6 months of planned updates for the game. Some of these updates are only available for Season Pass owners. These updates are expected to add the New Game Plus and Hardcore Mode for the free users.

Why would the studio release an unfinished game in the first place? The game lacks the desired replayability due to the absence of New Game Plus and the “Hardcore difficulty.” Sure, there is the “Maximum Security” difficulty, but it still leaves room for more to be desired except for the scarce ammo.

If the studio needs the next six months to add these basic features in a “Survival horror” game, then they should have just released it at a later date with all the content added.

It raises another question: If the game had been released after 6 months, would the devs have added these features, or would they have asked for another 6 months to incorporate them into the game later?

It was revealed in a tweet by Glen Schofield that the staff behind the third-person survival horror game had been overworking themselves. The tweet was later deleted after some backlash from the community.

It would have been better if KRAFTON had just delayed the release instead of forcing its staff to work under such conditions only to release an unfinished game riddled with flaws. And then have the same staff work to fix those flaws in the next 6 months after the release.

While The Calisto Protocol might not be an outstanding survival horror experience, it can be a decent one for the fans of the Dead Space franchise.

The Callisto Protocol’s creator, Glen Schofield, is also the co-creator of iconic Dead Space. The similarities between the two are comparable as they share a common creator, but, The Callisto Protocol isn’t meant to be a Dead Space 3 or 4.

It is supposed to be a separate game with its own unique identity that only takes inspiration from the other games. But, the game fails to establish itself as a separate identity and instead feels like a watered-down copy of the Dead Space to many fans.

That said, the game is quite decent as a survival horror. It has good gameplay mechanics; at times, it can even be better than the game it is inspired by in terms of visuals, environment, gameplay, and gore.

A Reddit user complains about the lack of dread in The Callisto Protocol.
A Reddit user complains about the lack of dread in The Callisto Protocol.

But, in terms of horror elements, The Callisto Protocol is mediocre at best. There’s nothing too scary in the game, and most jumpscares are in locations that are practically screaming that a jumpscare is coming.

KRAFTON should’ve thought twice before using a term such as AAAA about their game if they didn’t intend to deliver on it. And it’s not just about that term but anything they promised; they’ve barely fulfilled any of that.

The “maximum horror experience” isn’t there, and the “highest level of quality” isn’t what the game offers either. Even the “Distinguished action mechanics” aren’t really as distinguished when compared to other games in the survival horror genre.

Dead Space Remake is going to come out soon, and so far, that game looks much better than what The Callisto Protocol had to offer. It’s still a bit soon to compare the two games since the former has yet to be officially released.

However, it is fair to say at least Dead Space Remake won’t have such performance issues judging from the 4K-60 FPS 20-minute gameplay footage by Electronic Arts

Moving forward, hopefully, KRAFTON, and other studios, will not make promises they don’t intend to keep. Otherwise, they’ll just be building hype for their game, only for it to come crashing down, just like what happened with The Callisto Protocol.

One more issue with The Callisto Protocol is the fact that the review embargo only lifted on the release day. Now, if KRAFTON were confident about their game, it would’ve lifted the embargo earlier to let the fans read the reviews and buy the game for themselves.

The Callisto Protocol's review embargo was lifted on December 2. (Source: Gamepro)
The Callisto Protocol’s review embargo was lifted on December 2. (Source: Gamepro)

But, as it happened, many people failed to read the reviews about how terrible the game’s performance was on PC and proceeded to buy the game, only to refund it later on.

Another thing is the questionable Season Pass. The game’s story is lackluster and linear on its own, lacking backtracking, and ends at a cliffhanger. The abundance of cinematics and the linear story makes the whole game feel like a movie experience. But if you want a proper conclusion, you’ll have to wait for the DLC, and you’ll have to pay for the Season Pass, as it’s planned to bring additional story content later.

In conclusion, if you’re a fan of the survival horror genre, you might like it. It is, indeed, supposed to be a spiritual successor of Dead Space and, at moments, even appears to be better in some aspects, such as combat. However, KRAFTON’s obsession with Dead Space is also the reason why the game isn’t something extraordinary or a Quad A game.

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Shameer Sarfaraz is a Senior News Writer on eXputer who loves to keep up with the gaming and entertainment industries devoutly. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and several years of experience reporting on games. Besides his passion for breaking news stories, Shahmeer loves spending his leisure time farming away in Stardew Valley. VGC, IGN, GameSpot, Game Rant, TheGamer, GamingBolt, The Verge, NME, Metro, Dot Esports, GameByte, Kotaku Australia, PC Gamer, and more have cited his articles.

Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor in Computer Science.

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