Scathe – Review
Follow Genre: FPS
Developer: Damage State Ltd
Publisher: Kwalee
Platform: PS4, PS5. PC, Xbox One, Xbox series X|S
Tested on: PC

Scathe – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Some good old "shoot everything" fun
Bad: Lacks directions and goals to play towards
User Score
0
(0 votes)
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Making a game these days often means taking bits and pieces of games that you liked to create something of your own. True originality is hard to achieve, and the result will almost always be a remix or even a copy of something that already exists. This does not mean a new game can not stand out from the crowd. Often the aesthetics, story, or overall gameplay design can give a new game an edge to surprise or at least please players. In Scathethis edge is probably the gameplay, even if the game generally feels a bit like a rinse and repeat affair.

Story

A divine deity decides that his brother in hell is becoming too arrogant and possibly too eager to overthrow the divine kingdom. The plan of the godlike being is to strike fast and strike first, using “Scathe”, a humanoid man with strong powers, to infiltrate hell and shoot everything to smithereens. Scathe will need to find his way through a labyrinth of temples and rooms, killing (almost) every demon he comes across, to eventually find the big evil boss himself and finish him off. It’s a story that reminds us of a simplified DOOM, where literally anything could be an excuse to just fight hordes of demons. Aside from the introduction where the aforementioned story is told, there is basically no progression in this story, and you’ll soon notice it’s all about the gameplay. So, you can be on your merry way to fight some demons.

Graphics

There’s nothing bad to be said about the quality of the graphics of Scathe. While at a first glance it’s just another game taking place in hell filled with demon canon fodder, the architecture of the levels and the overall feeling the game gives are actually kind of interesting. It’s a high-quality-looking game filled with some demonic neo-gothic architecture, blood, and gore. It’s important to dodge bullets in this game, and the bullets differ enough from the overall design to communicate well with the player, just like the overall set-up with the head-up display. The only thing that’s lacking is that sometimes there are some details missing, such as enemies getting hit when you dash forward. They just splat apart, instead of making the player feel the impact of their actions. This might be the only part where the graphics could do a bit better, however.

Sound

The game has a sort of Nordic battle music in the background, with drums and sometimes a man singing in a foreign language. This music doesn’t really change, so while it’s good music, it gets a bit bland after a while. The sound effects are mostly moans and death gurgles from demons, combined with a whole bunch of splashes and gun sounds. While there are some different enemies, they, like the music, start to sound the same after a while. It’s reminiscent of a game such as Serious Sam, where everything starts to sound a bit monotonous after a while.

Gameplay

The thing is, Scathe doesn’t offer enough change to keep it interesting, neither in the sound department nor in the gameplay. The game is built like some type of FPS bullet-hell, where you need to kill the same demons over and over, while at the same time you try to dodge incoming fire. The game is divided into rooms that each have collectible runes and are connected through multiple paths. If you start in room A, you might have the option to go to B or C, while room C gives you A, E, or G. This way, a small network is created that you can view on your map. Some rooms offer a new weapon, but you always need to kill tons of demons. The collectible runes are supposed to be used to open boss doors, but we didn’t even find a single boss in the four hours we played the game.

The progression in Scathe is just bad. When you get new weapons, there is barely any ammo available which sucks. While the bullet-hell aspect largely works, you would expect some type of upgrade system for your weapons, or at the very least a boss every hour or two to keep it interesting. None of these things happen though, so you just mow down tons of creatures till you can almost swim in a sea of blood. In that perspective, Scathe is holding itself back by not having enough “new things” during the main gameplay. With more progression in any aspect, it would just be a better game. On top of that, there is a classic system with lives present, and dying is rather easy (if you touch lava or a lake of blood you die), especially when trying to collect runes that are often part of small platforming puzzles. If you lose your lives though, you need to run through all the chambers again, even though you keep the runes you collected. This progression makes no sense and holds you back even further, doubling your boredom going through the same rooms.

Conclusion

Scathe is an alright game, though it suffers from a bad progression system. You will find yourself doing the same thing over and over for no good reason. There’s no progression in the story, the weapons are somewhat disappointing due to the lack of upgrades, and there was hardly anything ‘new’ to look forward to. This is a game you can play if you just want to enjoy some casual FPS bullet-hell action.

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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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