The Callisto Protocol Review - I Don't Belong Here
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The Callisto Protocol Review - I Don't Belong Here

Despite releasing a full 15 years later, you could argue that The Callisto Protocol is the spiritual predecessor to Dead Space, given the original pitch from director Glen Schofield was for Visceral Games' survival-horror title to be set within a prison, not a mining vessel. And in a lot of ways, The Callisto Protocol similarly dazzles with its incredible art direction and sound design, even emulating Dead Space's over-the-shoulder third-person perspective and integrated HUD. However, The Callisto Protocol goes its own way by focusing on melee strikes and dodges, utilizing a combat system that feels great at first but isn't suitable for the game's more action-focused latter half. Plus, lengthy death animations compound the frustrations of surprise difficulty spikes, creating an experience that feels like an uneven mix of horror and action that fails to adequately commit to or excel at either.

In The Callisto Protocol, you play as Jacob Lee, a freight transporter contracted to ferry cargo for the United Jupiter Company, moving supplies from the UJC-operated Black Iron Prison on Callisto to the colony on Europa. On a routine trip back to Black Iron, Jacob's ship is boarded by Outer Way, a group blamed for a recent terrorist attack on Europa. In the ensuing struggle, Jacob and Outer Way leader Dani Nakamura are the only survivors, stranded on Callisto. They're both picked up by Black Iron security head Captain Leon Ferris and incarcerated in the prison on orders from warden Duncan Cole. Jacob awakes in Black Iron hours later, discovering a mysterious infection has been released into the prison, transforming the prisoners and guards into biophage monsters. Escaping from his cell, he teams up with fellow prisoner Elias Porter to find a way out.

The Callisto Protocol doesn't devote too much time to storytelling and worldbuilding. None of the characters (save for Elias) are especially likable, and though the main villain has an intriguing motivation--you can clearly see how The Callisto Protocol was originally intended to fit into the PUBG: Battlegrounds' universe once you find out what the bad guy is up to--it's only revealed right as the game is concluding. I wish it had been revealed far sooner because, though the ramifications of it are interesting, there's not enough space in the plot for those ramifications to be explored. The game fleshes out the world up to that point with optional audio logs to discover, but most don't actually reveal all that much, and those that do aren't very interesting to listen to. It's ultimately not worth going off the path in pursuit of these collectibles.

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