Well I have to say, this one caught me by surprise. A few different companies involved that I know (Thank you again Iron Galaxy for Street Fighter 3 on PS3) and no idea of what game to expect. From the artwork I’d say it’s a story based single player akin to Enslaved but it turns out I was so wrong. Attack on titan instantly springs to mind and given Attack On Titan 2 Wings of Freedom is recent this does feel a bit knock off. The games has had a few bugs and it has blue screen crashed just through normal gameplay. Still lets slay this giant and hope to save some of my sanity in the process.
Extinction plays a lot like a Musou/Dynasty Warriors game but instead of focusing on killing hundreds of enemies you have to balance saving civilians, killing minor enemies and giant titan like monsters called Ravenii. It works out to be a literal Attack on Titans but with a lot more busy work and a lot less fun. The game is a course in frustration and will introduce fun aspects only to find ways of making it tedious and frustrating. The fact you have a super sword that can slice limbs off giants should be fun, but it only works when powered up by saving people or killing things. It also can’t do anything to giants unless it’s aimed at specifically highlighted spots and this is essentially what causes Extinction so many problems throughout. It’s fun but it’s always being held back, placed into a set system and then given arbitrary reasons to repeat the action over and over again until it loses anything that made it special in the first place. After killing a Ravenii you have to repower up your super sword again to kill another, back to square one and rinse and repeat until that super power becomes a super chore.
You spend the game as Avii. Sadly not the interesting smart girl at the start of the game but a generic ‘lone warrior’. He’s a sentinel with a deep-seated hatred for royalty and training from an old sage and even more generic tropes than you can shake a stick at. Although you won’t be worrying about the story during this game. You’ll spend all of it running around, zipping like a ninja with a basic combo set to kill small jackal monsters and then take on shadow of colossus sized monster bosses. Simple mechanics that should add up to run and slaughter fun but quickly devolve to be nothing more than tower defence without the towers. Savings civilians as a one man band and trying to aim your sword at armor parts of Ravenii while wondering what the objective was again.
The game doesn’t start particularly well either, to say the story’s a bit messy is being charitable. The first cut scene with interesting animation about an enslaved badass that…oh wait you don’t play as her. So why the focus then? It quickly time skips where somehow we’re saved from enslavement and super powered? Then your trying to win all alliances with royals? The more you play Extinction the more it feels like 5 different teams had different ideas of what the game would be and it’s all come together to create a bit of a mess.
Extinction isn’t a particularly ugly game but it never really excels either. The areas do have a simplistic art style that has a really familiar feeling, functional, easy to see and a little mish mash. The design does seem to bleed through in every sense of the game which should bind it together but bizarrely it throws it all out of a refined whole. American anime style cut scenes, an almost Fortnite (or technically Battlefield Heroes) visual style and serious art for the menus. They all don’t seem to blend together particularly well and the procedural generation of the areas and Ravenii don’t feel particularly well mixed. It all comes together as a game that looks good from moment to moment but never leaves a memorable impression. The fact the Ravenii are clearly giant Orcs and occasionally Cyclops doesn’t really help matters.
The voice acting is ok, not bad but not great and this is the same with the music and sounds. It all works but nothing particularly stands out. The dialogue is fine but some moments are just laughable in places when you put it in the context of the level your playing. Moments in mission where the characters will say “lets hope the Ravenii never find out about this” are seconds later turned into mission objectives “you must protect this from the Ravenii”. Plenty never gets explained or looked into early on and you get the feeling nothing in the game was ever looked at long enough to see the issues with the design. The longer you play the less you appreciate the work and just wish it had more time to refine itself into a cohesive whole.
I’m never a fan of a video game showing all the chapters it has in story mode from the start. The mystery of how long the story is going for or the pacing of it disappears and given that some of the objectives to the levels are randomly drawn it doesn’t lend itself to unique gameplay. It makes for tedious repetition if you happen to luck out and get a difficult challenge. The story missions are visible from the start but you can’t COD style skip ahead and you do have to play them through. Still it seems a misstep when you could simply hide the chapters you’ve not yet completed? This seems like a nitpick but it’s simple things like this that start to add up to create a larger problem with the game.
There are plenty of challenges for each levels and you’ll need to be completing them as skills are bought (once unlocked) with the game currency. This currency is gained from missions but also from saving civilians. Strangely if you save a citizen in a mission your currency goes up from that point allowing you to upgrade your skills mid game. This would be interesting if the skills were minor little upgrades but most require 1000pts or more so your unlikely to do more than upgrade between missions. Grinding at a particular mission isn’t possible either as the reward drops each time, still the game has DLC content at launch for each mission so it would imply this is how your supposed to upgrade fully if you don’t want to grind at the game.
All on paper this game should be great fun but it never really clicks. You spend a large amount of time grinding for simple things. A good example of this is the simple matter of making the radar that helps spot citizens work properly or being able to save them quickly without being killed. The combo system that starts off flashy and fun tapping square to set combos with timed presses ends up being ignored by your powerful one hit kill attack. The Ravenii stop being huge hulking monsters of challenging strength and more a tedious chore that results in swearing at the controls when you get stuck in its armpits. You stop enjoying the act of winning against these huge beasts and just see them as another stat on the mission counter to a small reward to restart the process again.
You get the feeling this game was designed by separate teams who didn’t have a great deal of direction to connect to the whole. The daily challenge, the skirmish, the story and everything about this should be perfection. Even the procedural generation of the Ravenii and the destructable worlds should all sing in harmony. Sadly this never really comes to fruition. It finally clicked with me why I had to stop playing on a 7th attempt at a mission where after hitting 4 locks on a single piece of Ravenii armour and lopping off it’s leg, I lost the mission again because another Ravenii had destroyed a mission objective that I hadn’t seen. Extinction is just a huge shame, a game that never manages to find focus enough to be fun for more than the first hour.
4/10 – Going the way of the dodo.