The Callisto Protocol Review: An official remake could be on the horizon for next year, but the rotting carcass of Dead Space has been brought back to life a year early in The Callisto Protocol. This sci-fi survival horror sequel faithfully recreates the haunting blood-streaked corridors and space zombie-slaying hallmarks first established on the USG Ishimura in 2008 and injects the gore with more awe than ever thanks to some strikingly detailed splashes of blood and guts.
While the dismemberment of mutants has never been more graphic, the flaws in The Callisto Protocol have never been more obvious. An eight-hour massacre that is satisfyingly gruesome but never quite as great as the series it was inspired by due to occasional control annoyances, imbalanced combat, and a general lack of innovation.
The Callisto Protocol Review
Similar in tone and style to Visceral Games’ 2008 action horror classic Dead Space, The Callisto Protocol was published by EA. Our first game is a fresh take on the space survival genre, and it’s powered by the Unreal Engine. To put it mildly, the company hasn’t exactly broken new ground technically speaking with its debut. The Callisto Protocol launched in a similarly unfinished state to many other games in the past few months.
The mishap starts as soon as the game is loaded, as even high-end systems will experience significant stuttering during the opening videos and main menu (our review is based on the version dated 06 December 22, four days after the launch of the first patches). After initial startup, the screen may sometimes go black for such a long period that you may think the game has crashed between the introduction videos and the main menu. In addition, we experienced occasional game crashes.
Also frustrating is the fact that some AMD-based computers experience extremely severe flickering when running The Callisto Protocol, despite the fact that the game was developed in collaboration with AMD. As if the already choppy gameplay with frequent (albeit minor) stutters wasn’t bad enough, now this is happening. The developer still has some work to do on the game and additional patches are needed to improve the technical performance. Due to its current state, we can only advise you to stay away from the game.
The game’s developer should also think about updating the visual settings. The menu is difficult to navigate due to the abundance of sub-menus, the vast majority of which offer only a few choices. On the “General” tab, you can change things like V-Sync, the maximum framerate, and the DirectX mode; on the “Display” tab, you can modify things like the resolution, brightness, gamma (with HDR support enabled), and a few other things. Next, select the Lighting option to access the Quality and Raytracing submenu. A tab for effects and an advanced graphics menu round out the interface.
Also, when you use one of the game’s four convenient presets, the game will automatically enable FSR upscaling (DLSS isn’t supported). In every single test we ran, we purposefully turned off FSR. Changing the game’s visual settings does not necessitate a relaunch, which is a nice touch (except in DirectX mode). However, the menu provides next to no information about the settings themselves and no visual comparisons.
The Callisto Protocol: Benchmark
The game earns props for including a convenient frame rate benchmarking tool that can be used in-game. The 45-second scene is a tracking shot through corridors filled with monsters. During the benchmark sequence, unfortunately, no information is displayed. The final result is very vague because it provides no useful information apart from the average frame rate (see video).
To counteract the annoying stuttering that occurs pretty much regardless of what system or settings are used, both the benchmark and the game itself should run at 50 fps or higher.
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The Callisto Protocol: Backtrack Through Time And Space
The mutant elephant in the room is that Striking Distance Studios, which developed The Callisto Protocol, is headed by Dead Space co-creator Glen Schofield. From the battery-powered telekinesis ability that allows you to hurl objects around with a flick of Jacob’s wrist in combat to the neatly minimalistic HUD that grafts Jacob’s health bar into the back of his neck like a phone battery indicator, everything about this game is battery-powered.
Instructions on how to kill enemies are written in blood on the walls, and there is evidence of a mysterious religious cult with ties to the outbreak. The campaign is heavy on startling jump scares but light on any major story or gameplay surprises because it avoids introducing Isaac Clarke’s stasis ability and replaces his collection of weaponized mining implements with a more conventional arsenal of pistols and shotguns.
Compared to Dead Space’s horror-driven formula, The Callisto Protocol deviates most noticeably in its early going by placing a greater emphasis on close-quarters combat. As bullets and weapons are scarce at first, you’ll need to use cunning to get close to your snarling cellmates, dodge their clawing attacks, and then hammer them with Jacob’s stun baton before they can kill you.
It’s satisfying to bash their limbs off one at a time and bludgeon baton-shaped grooves into their skulls while dodging and blocking attacks with the thumbsticks is reminiscent of a boxing game (though your opponent is more like “Holy crap!” than Holyfield).