The Day of Reckoning has finally come! Our Scorn Review will pass judgment on the game that has been on everyone’s radar because of its incredibly unique and grotesque art style. So, strap in your seat belts, and sit back as we take you on a ride through hell itself, to deduce whether the scenic route the developers have provided us is as twisted and mutilated as they had promised.
Or is it just a mirage? Falling short of expectations, and betraying its flaws through glaring nooks and crannies? Let’s find out!
Story And Setting
Scorn is a first-person horror adventure game taking place in a nightmarish world that contains the remnants of a civilization long gone. The game starts with a cutscene with a camera panning in on a zombified creature, with exposed flesh all over its body half buried in the earth. Then voila, this creature opens its eyes, and the camera shifts to a first-person view. This is your protagonist, and yes, you play as a discarded piece of flesh who seems to resemble a humanoid and has a conscience, your conscience.
Anyway, the character starts crawling on the ground, and the surrounding environment starts to flicker, switching between two different areas. One is a rock-solid cliff, where you are in an open area, under a dust-covered sky facing a large structure. The other is an underground area, where you crawl on what seems to resemble flesh and a network of veins. As the areas keep flickering, a cleft in the cliff appears where the creature tumbles down. This ends the cutscene and gives the player direct control of the character.
This sequence is one of two cutscenes you encounter in this game, or at least I encountered only two during my playthrough for this Scorn Review. There is no traditional narrative here. You just keep moving forward toward an undefined objective, while unearthing the mysteries of this hellish landscape. The character doesn’t mutter anything and neither does it comment on the landscape. This might irk a few people, but I think the developers have intentionally designed it this way. You are directly looking through its lens, and forming your own opinion about the environment and the world, independent of the character. Besides if this creature had a voice, it would irk them even more.
Scorn’s gameplay is simple and grounded. You can walk, run, strafe, use weapons, and interact with objects. That’s all there is to it, there are no ground-breaking mechanics here that would push the horror adventure game genre forward in terms of gameplay. But Scorn was never aiming for revolutionizing gameplay. It piqued everyone’s interest due to its unique art style which we’ll get to in the next section of this Review.
The game focuses on puzzle solving, which is usually a hit or miss. Each area is one big puzzle, comprising smaller puzzles that you need to piece together to unlock the next area. There are complex pathways with multiple layers, where one can easily lose themselves as the game does not provide you with any map. I got lost a number of times because I failed to remember which pathways I took to get there. The game lacks distinction between the different routes for an area.
Every time you enter an area, it’s best to survey it first, analyzing all components that you need to piece together to solve the puzzle. Unfortunately, these smaller puzzles are not all that “fleshed” out. They are mostly centered around rotating some parts, moving a lever to grab objects and place them, or finding some missing items. There were some that stood out and required me to actually use my brain, but these were few and far between.
For a game with puzzle solving as its focal point, these simply aren’t creative enough and can get repetitive pretty quickly. However, I would admit there is that satisfying feeling of solving different small puzzles and seeing them fall into place, which ultimately contributes to deciphering the large area-spanning puzzle. This interconnected system is the saving grace of this title. It makes each level feel more alive and mechanical. Just don’t expect the quality to be that of something from the Legend of Zelda series.
Since this is our official Scorn Review, it is pertinent to mention another weak point of this game, which is the combat. It’s hellishly atrocious, but fortunately, it is only a minor part of this game. I counted 4 enemy types, and each one of them was a pain to deal with. This isn’t helped by the fact that you have limited movement options available. Although there are ranged weapons like a shotgun, the game is extremely stingy with ammo, rendering them useless most of the time. The best and slightly dishonorable way to deal with them is to run around in circles, wait for their attack to finish, and then “poke” them with your melee-type small ranged weapon which requires no ammunition but has a cooldown after successive attacks. Or you can try hiding behind objects, as their attacks can’t reach you there.
Some enemies have frustratingly large health bars, while others have freakishly accurate attacks, so the combat boils down to a game of tag about who can hit the other one first and run around in circles the fastest. The title isn’t generous with checkpoints either. I died multiple times and had to redo entire puzzles, which drove me nuts on multiple occasions because the last checkpoint was quite a distance back.
Thankfully, as I stated above, the combat isn’t forced. You can run past most enemies and pray to God they don’t catch up to you, which is what I did.
Visuals And Performance
The visuals are the most controversial and unique part of this game. Now like every article like this, our Scorn Review is subjective, and I loved the visuals. They are beautifully disgusting and the reason this game has gained so much traction since its reveal. They draw inspiration from the works of HR Giger who blended flesh with machines. It is a popular art style that people refer to as “Bio-mechanical”. He was also on the visual design team of Ridley Scott’s hit sci-fi film “Alien”. You might find similarities between this game and the designs of that movie.
Each area is distinct from its predecessor. Some areas have rock-solid ground while some have flesh spanning over the entire floors and walls. But the developers have masterfully blended this flesh into the structure and not once did it feel forced or out of place. Traversing through these areas gives you the feeling that you are trekking through a humanoid’s body, with structures resembling bones, and paths resembling a network of veins. I highly recommended playing this game with an empty stomach as this game features certain gore-filled sequences that might cause you to puke.
The developers have nailed the desolate atmosphere of this title. It is grim, bleak, and devoid of a single energetic moment of hope. It is bewitchingly depressing. Not once did I feel that there was any hope for this world or our character. Both were doomed to die off and be forgotten, and perhaps it was for the best.
The performance of this game is decent. I did not run into any major FPS drops or other performance hiccups. Some players did report a number of issues during the beta, but it seems the developers have ironed out most of them.
This is the culmination of our Scorn Review. I would say the developers have succeeded in delivering what they intended to. It promised a hellish grotesque world augmented by a bleak atmosphere, and it succeeded exceptionally well in this promise. The game thrives on its art style and atmosphere. It was the sole reason it caught my eye when it was revealed oh so many years ago.
There have been a few missteps, but there’s always something that lessens their impact. The small puzzles can be uninspired, but when they slowly unfurl, becoming interconnected and contributing towards solving the large puzzle in the area, the whole thing can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. The combat is atrocious, but it can be easily avoided. The different areas are distinct and have their own story to uncover.
Summing this all up, I would say this game is a solid package and delivers on its promise.
This has been our Scorn Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
- Overwatch 2 Review
- FIFA 23 Review
- Valkyrie Elysium Review
- Potion Permit Review
- Return to Monkey Island Review
- The Wandering Village Review
Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. ✍
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
I would say the developers have succeeded in delivering what they intended to. It promised a hellish grotesque world augmented by a bleak atmosphere, and it succeeded exceptionally well in this promise.
- Unique art style
- The depressing and bleak atmosphere
- Distinct environments
- Frustrating combat and area design
- Repetitive Puzzles