A competent Souls-lite struggling to excel

A sci-fi action adventure ‘Souls-lite’, scars up tells a pretty standard story about explorers in space, stranded on an unknown planet and struggling to survive against wild creatures and an unexplained alien presence.

You don the jumpsuit of Dr. Kate Ward, a scientist on the Conscious Contact Assessment and Response (or SCARS) team. After making contact with a strange object floating just above the earth called ‘The Metahedron’, Kate awakens on a barren plain, guided by the face of an alien life form.

Without spoiling anything, you will discover what happened to your team and why this planet that once seemed to have intelligent life is now dominated by aggressive creatures.

While wandering, he will quickly equip himself with his only weapon, the 3D printed VERA. As the game progresses, VERA can be upgraded to handle four main elements: electricity, fire, ice, and acid. This core mechanic is the most interesting aspect of the game, but it never offers the highs of similar titles.

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The combat is quite simple. Every creature you come across has a weakness to certain types of elements and a clearly defined weak spot. Some of them offer an interesting challenge; the environment can be used against some to great effect, while larger enemies may have armor that you can take away through damage.

If submerged in water, VERA’s electric build will do much more damage and over a wider range, while using fire to melt the ice under an enemy’s feet will submerge them and freeze them in their tracks, leaving them open to a death of a single shot.

When some of the bigger battles come around, dancing between creating walking ice and lighting fires in safe places to combat hypothermia while electrifying groups of enemies is a fun experience.

The combat really shines during boss battles, which have you strategizing to work out key weaknesses and how to best utilize your item combination to take down enemies towering above you. But while the combat is reliable, like other parts of the game, it never manages to push the mechanics to the limit, with little opportunity to experiment.

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As you explore the world, you’ll come across monoliths that, once activated, save your progress and refill ammo and supplies, but at the cost of reviving all the enemies you’ve previously dispatched. Over time, it’ll open up shortcuts that make saving a risk-free option, so while the concept makes sense, it’s never quite the challenge it sounds like it wants to be.

Part of this problem is because survival never really feels like something we have to think about in terms of the world around us. Ammo is in abundance from the plants around you, and you find upgrades for your weapon so quickly that you always feel well equipped.

On one occasion, two weapon upgrades were found within steps of each other, meaning that not only did we get a powerful new attachment, but it was already upgraded before we had a chance to use it.

A small skill tree allows you to increase certain defense stats and improve ammo capacity and reload speed. Experience is handled by increasing Kate’s knowledge, which can come from scanning enemies and parts of the environment, but mainly from finding ‘knowledge cubes’ scattered around the map.

This isn’t too demanding since, like the ammo and plant life, the cubes are everywhere. In fact, we ended the game with a maxed out skill tree and several points to spend.

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The semi-open world you find yourself in has the potential to offer some interesting insights, but doesn’t really encourage revisiting areas other than a couple of very specific instances, which is a real missed opportunity.

After initially having to find a workbench for upgrades, scars up ditch this entirely and opt to make the upgrade instantly accessible from the inventory menu. It left us wondering if, instead, having to back up a bench every time your weapon was due for an upgrade would have drastically increased the survivability stake, especially since you’re forced to balance saving your progress at the cost of reviving all enemies. every time. .

scars up is a competent third-person action game. The story is interesting enough to pull you through, while the combat is solid enough that you won’t get bored with moment-to-moment battles. There’s little here you wouldn’t have seen before, but there sure is some fun in its familiarity.

It really is a shame that, in its efforts to be a solid action-adventure, none of its ideas have been explored further, as we would have loved to see the team swing for the fences in one area or another to produce something truly standout. .

Revised platform at: xbox series x

scars up is now available for PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.

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