The Callisto Protocol review: A visual spectacle splashed with blood and gore | Digit


Enclosed spaces, eerie background score, monstrous creatures, blood and gore, and the one thing that binds all survival-horror games together- uncertainty. Krafton’s latest offering, The Callisto Protocol, has all the elements of the genre beautifully sprinkled throughout its roughly 12-hour gameplay time. But will it succeed in giving you the chills? The answer may depend on what startles you and what does not.

No two players are the same and something that’s mundane for one person might actually be a terrifying experience for someone else. Nevertheless, The Callisto Protocol is an entertaining game that attempts to balance action and horror in a sci-fi setting.


Packs A Punch at The Beginning

The game packs quite a punch right from the moment you enter the bizarre world and wastes no time in taking you straight into the action. From fighting off dangerous monsters to listening to uneasy sounds as you walk by, the atmosphere is, in the simplest of words, quite promising.

As soon as the game starts, Krafton’s name is displayed with a spooky twist that gives us a glimpse of the game’s mind-blowing sound effects. The title screen loads and if you’re new to the survival-horror genre, you might get some chills there.

Players take control of Jacob, a cargo pilot who finds himself trapped at the Black Iron prison facility on one of Jupiter’s moons, Callisto. While Jacob finds himself imprisoned, an outbreak occurs at the facility and monsters swarm the place. Now it’s up to Jacob, along with a fellow inmate, to escape the prison and uncover some dark secrets along the way.


A visual spectacle

If there’s one thing that stands out within the first few minutes of the game, it is the visuals. The developers have indeed created a stunning Sci-Fi world that is worth exploring. I spent a good amount of time combing through several locations, not because the story needed me to, but because I was curious to find out what was lurking in those shadows. The moment Jacob’s spaceship crashes, the game establishes its visual glory and when the flames of fire engulf the prison, it is hard not to believe that what’s in front of us is merely a game and not reality. The level of detail that can be observed in those flames continues till the very end of the game and can be seen on various objects. For instance, the disturbing corpses lying on the ground or the filthy substances on the walls of the prison are hard to not notice.

The moment Jacob kills a monster, blood splashes on his clothes and stays that way for quite some time. And when he is in an enclosed space, the sweat on his face is clearly visible. These details might seem to be small but are important when looked at in totality. The Black Iron prison too has areas that are dimly lit yet full of gory details, adding to the totally unsettling atmosphere of the game.


Combat and difficulty

Time for a confession: I played the game on easy mode because I wanted to focus more on the story and less on combat. However, even with that setting, the game appeared to be difficult initially as I faced swarms of enemies without any good weapons. With just a stun baton and a pistol (that can only hold up to 6 bullets at the start), the combat seemed like a challenge at first. It took more than 4 bullets to kill a normal enemy and a lot more than that to kill slightly powerful ones. The only way you can defeat an enemy initially is by dodging his attacks by holding the left stick in the opposite direction of the attack, and then following up with a melee attack. This seems to be a decent approach when you’re facing just one or two enemies but hell breaks loose when multiple monsters enter. It takes several hits to finally put an enemy down. Beware as they can even fight when their heads have been blown off. I’ve died multiple times thinking that the enemy was, well, dead, because I had just blown its head off but the b****** refused to die and attacked me without even having a head!

The game also has an option called ‘auto dodge’ in settings that is supposedly there to assist you. However, despite of enabling that option, it didn’t seem to do much.

The combat, hence, could’ve been better, and at times hampers the overall experience of the game. With access to better weapons and armour, things could’ve been taken up a notch. The dodge function, especially, could use a lot of improvements as despite of holding L and timing it perfectly, Jacob sometimes just can’t avoid an attack. Perhaps the game could do wonders if it had given the players a button mapping option.


Repetitive elements take the fun away

The moment you lose in combat, a different animation plays out and Jacob dies in some of the most gruesome ways possible. Now, the developers’ intent to scare the players by having that element of surprise in every lost combat is understandable but after you’ve lost a fight about 4-5 times, you just get used to it and murmur ‘be done with it already, I want to try again’. Also, the game uses similar scare tactics throughout which can get repetitive after a while and lose their charm.

The scare factor

When it comes to the scare factor, The Callisto Protocol is a subjective experience. If you are scared of monsters lurking around and jumping at you out of nowhere, then yes, the game can feel to be quite scary. But if you, like me, are accustomed to killing the creepiest of creatures in games and aren’t easily taken aback by blood and gore, this game can prove to be a bit of a disappointment when it comes to delivering those scary moments .

Sound effects are a hit

The one thing that does manage to deliver the scares at times is the sound effects. If you listen closely, you can actually hear the monsters through the vents in the Black Iron Prison and can predict from where they will attack. I used my headphones to play the game and the entire experience got a whole lot better. The accuracy of the sound effects and the perfect timing makes them take the cake.


Characters and story are stunning but lack depth 

The Callisto Protocol is shouldered by characters that look stunning but lack depth and layering, much like its story. Rarely are we allowed to connect to the characters emotionally or feel interested enough to get to know them better. It takes a while for you to get adjusted to feeling sorry for Jacob whenever he dies mid-combat because there is simply no emotional connection with the character.

The story is a tad disappointing and feels disorganised. There is some information dump at the beginning, then nothing in the middle, and an overload of information at the end. A lot happens in the first few scenes of the game and the story just takes a backseat as you try to escape the prison for a huge chunk of playtime. Quite frankly, I forgot what I was trying to do at all as I got too occupied with killing the monsters and just going ahead. There are various logs you find scattered across the facility but you might simply not want to play them to know more. The last hour is when things pick up the pace and gives you the answers- all at once. However, for some players, it might not feel satisfactory enough.


To conclude, Krafton has made a hell of an effort to dive into the AAA games genre and has done a decent job when it comes to setting the atmosphere and painting a gory picture through its stunning visuals and sound effects. However, the combat and story could use some work to take the game to a whole new level.

SKOAR: 7/10


Publishers: KRAFTON, Bluehole Inc.

Developer: Striking Distance Studios

Platform: PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Review platform: PS5



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