Scars Above

Scars Above

Sci-fi Souls-like makes a welcome return(al).

Scars Above

Souls-like is a genre of gaming that has grabbed players and isn’t showing any signs of letting go, as there is a constant flow of titles looking to take the core idea and twists and warps it into something new and ultimately more challenging.  Serbia studio Mad Head Games is hoping to do just that with their latest title Scars Above, taking the Soulslike foundation and throws it head first into a sci-fi world which may just give it an edge to stand out in the ever growing crowd.  This all starts with the game’s tale which is an interesting sci-fi romp, even if it re-treads a few of the genres tropes across its running time.

It all begins with a colossal alien structure that appears in Earth’s orbit and is quickly called ‘The Metahedron’.  You play as Dr. Kate Ward who is most definitely not a solider, but is a member of The Sentient Contact Assessment and Response team or SCAR – a group made up of mostly scientists and engineers and they are sent to investigate the structure.  As is always the way, things don’t go as planned (shock) and the Metahedron hauls the team across space onto a mysterious extrasolar planet.  When Ward awakes from this you are dazed and alone in a very strange and very hostile environment.  Your goals are simple; firstly survive and then find your crewmates.  All the time trying to unravel the mystery behind what’s really happening.  To be honest it’s a well written tale that will hold your interest over its run time.

Gameplay is an interesting mix of action and puzzle solving, which is where Mad Head Games’ past shines through, as the studio is best known for hidden object games with this actually being their first stab at a AAA title.  So actions may be as simple as grabbing something from a case, here you have to unclip the case and open to get to the item, and then there is often a few other steps beyond that.  It all adds a unique style to things as well as a real tactile vibe to the games handling of its science.  When not touching everything you’ll be knee deep in some third person shooting action, which may have more than a passing feeling of the likes of Returnal at times… not a bad thing let’s be honest.  You’ll battle hordes of alien beasts while solving a few puzzles along the way, with your jack of all trades rifle – that can be combined to fire special elemental rounds, which are a key element as you’ll have to use different rounds to take advantage of enemy’s weaknesses.

To Scars Above’s credit you quickly feel like you can hold your own in a fight, partly down to being able to scan the world and its inhabitants to find out more info on it all… knowledge is very much power in this game in more ways than one.  Visually the comparisons to Returnal are even stronger as you find yourself battling and exploring through deep, dank and overgrown locations, with you half expecting to run into Selene Vassos or worse still, a few of her corpses at times.  Sound-wise it holds a solid sci-fi tone with a real spacey vibe, with characters and beasts all sounding the part in equal measure.  Though things fall a little on the lip syncing side, as it’s all over the shop and is extremely janky at times.  Also not having a map to see where you are or where you have been, can and will lead you to being lost at times and doing a bit of back tracking.  Also the gunplay is a bit hit and miss, not helped in part by the auto-lock; having a bit of a mind of its own at times, leading to more than a few missed shots.

Scars Above is a fresh spin on the Souls-like formula, that adds in a few new and interesting twists… while (let’s be nice) paying tribute to Returnal.  If you’re looking for something a bit different with a compelling tale, its worth checking out at least for a weekends fun.

An Xbox review copy of Scars Above was provided by Mad Head Games PR team, and the game is out now on PlayStation, Xbox and PC for around £35.

The Verdict


The Good: Interesting gameplay elements | Story

The Bad: Level of polish | Maybe a little too Souls-like light for some | A few technical issues

The following two tabs change content below.

Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

Latest posts by Stuart Cullen (see all)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *