Scorn Review - Pound Of Flesh
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Scorn Review - Pound Of Flesh

Scorn is designed to be disgusting. The walls of its labyrinthine halls are constructed with twisting contortions of flesh, and its mechanically complex contraptions are drenched in the blood of discarded carcasses that lay decaying without care. The inspirations of Scorn's aesthetic are familiar but well-implemented, creating an atmosphere of languish and disgust that is maintained throughout. However, disappointingly, Scorn's infuriatingly unbalanced combat, uneven puzzle design, and severely restricted checkpointing make its setting the least off-putting part about it.

Scorn's most immediate impression comes from its aesthetic. This is textbook H.R. Giger, with the artist's flair for biomechanical structures influencing every biome you visit in Scorn. If you've watched Prometheus recently, you'll be quite familiar with the types of interweaving, fleshy layouts that Scorn has in store, with some variety in each new area preventing the presentation from feeling stale. The gratuitous violence and frequent body horror is less impactful, however. There is some initial shock value in seeing your arm mangled as a new key item is seared into it or watching as a parasite latches onto your body to slowly rip out your intestines, but many of these actions are repeated frequently enough that their impact diminishes over Scorn's seven-hour runtime. Scorn's violence isn't memorable; instead it's a disappointing departure from the well-crafted horror of its inspirations, wasting the potential of its alluring aesthetic.

Exploration and puzzles are at the core of Scorn's gameplay loop. You'll explore a handful of different constrained biomes during each of the game's five acts, all of which are large, multi-step puzzles made up of small ones that must be solved in a specific order. Most solutions come about through simple exploration; each space has multiple areas for you to poke around in but usually only one correct path to follow, meaning you'll regularly come across multiple dead ends before arriving at the correct route to take. Interactive consoles often let you manipulate the space, too, moving around large objects to complete other routes that let you progress further into the biome you're currently in. Each of these spaces is like one big Rube Goldberg machine that you're slowly activating one piece at a time, and it's satisfying to see levels fold in on themselves and click into place once you've got everything down. This is crucial given Scorn's purposeful lack of storytelling, with only two short cutscenes at its start and end tasking you with making any sense of everything in-between.

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