When I saw some footage of Extinction I was intrigued. The small people taking out massive trolls, it looked gorgeous and fun, and a piece of me hoped it would go the way of Shadow of the Colossus. Instead I found myself trudging through something that has some good ideas and was right on the cusp of being a good game, but instead trips over itself.
I’m going to be super transparent, I haven’t beaten this game, far from it. I did spend enough hours in it though to feel there was no more value in me spending any more time in the game.
The general plot of Extinction involves the man Avil, who exists in a damaged world where giant monsters called Ravenii keep everyone in perpetual fear of being killed. Avil is super strong and super powerful and needs to kill a lot of attacking Ravenii. That is the depth of the story, outside of some boring dialogue.
One of the first scenes in the game got my undies in a bunch, with a Ravenii peering over a wall, which is one of the most iconic scenes from Attack on Titan.
The gameplay loop is not too bad. You are dropped into a city being attacked by Ravenii and smaller monsters. You need to attack the smaller monsters and save civilians before they die, to build up your ultimate attack meter. This is necessary as for tackling the Ravenii.
This involves cutting their armour by hitting weak spots, and then severing the limbs. Once they are sufficiently incapacitated then you need to sever their head, which only works with that full gauge. Early on this isn’t too challenging, but once multiple ones start attacking the cities you must weigh up slowing them down, between trying to fill your meter.
This is because cities have a damage meter, and once that hits 0, you lose. Getting distracted helping civilians, or trying to fill that gauge, can result in too much damage being done. Concentrating your efforts on Ravenii, while not filling your gauge in an efficient enough manner, will result in your failure, so it’s always a balancing act.
The gameplay is simple, which works for the most part, as it’s less about the interesting combat mechanics, and more about flinging around the city, and flinging up and around the massive Raveniis. Avil can launch himself up the side of buildings, and through the air, which can make levels flow well.
The game has an interesting aesthetic, that gets stuck between trying to be detailed, and trying to be simple. It uses gorgeous cell shading, which look at its best on the Raveniis, and the plentiful blood, using simple but bold colouring. But others such as people and buildings, they tried to go too detailed, which looks at odds with the Raveniis.
So far, so good, right? I haven’t criticised it too hard.
The problem is the game is super average. The gameplay generally involves mashing a button with precision timing, and the camera doesn’t always work too well, which can be both distracting and destroy the flow of the game. There were times I was in the right place, but by the time I had swung the camera around, I missed my chance.
Then there are the weird bugs, like being flung off at weird angles. When your gameplay revolves around a lot of air time, that needs to be spot on, which it isn’t. Then there are the random objects you stop at.
Avil is a character who can launch himself through the air, and run up the backs of giant monsters, but so many times a small object on the ground would stop him in his tracks. This is especially frustrating as the entire flow of the game involves launching on and around the city at speed, but objects smaller than his knees bringing him to a sudden halt, breaks both the flow of the game, and the lore.
It’s frustrating because Extinction is so close to a good game, and with some basic patches it is easily a good enough game. But the bugs are too in the way of the point of the game that it brings the whole thing tumbling down. It’s not a bad game, it’s just not good enough to be in this state.
Blair reviewed Extinction on PS4 from code provided by the publisher.