Review – Extinction
Looking back, it’s interesting that with the success Shadows of the Colossus (SotC) had on PS2 that we haven’t had any copy cats or spin-offs of that formula. Back in 2016 Attack on Titan (AoT) got a video game version of the anime that resembles similar ideas of large beasts that require acrobatics and specific areas to take them down and kill. But that’s been about it until the Shadow of the Colossus remaster came out just a couple months back. In comes Extinction, a game that mixes a little bit of SotC and a lot of AoT together with some large Ogres for an interesting mix of gameplay that I think should have had more spotlight since SotC. Suffice it to say I was excited to get another epic giant fighting game on the market. Lets see how it fares.
In Extinction you play as Avil, the last remaining Sentinel, and who looks a bit like Travis Fimmel from Vikings. The Sentinels are skilled fighters and are the only ones that possess the power and ability to slay the attacking Ravenii. The Ravenii are giant Ogres that are hell bent on destroying humanity. Avil and his partner Xandra must find a way to stop the horde of Ravenii and save as many people as possible.
The story is told through hand drawn animated cut scenes, as well as a decent amount of dialogue before and after each mission. The way the missions are structured you never get to see any of the side characters in gameplay besides Avil. There are 7 chapters and each have 5 missions to complete. Each mission has a main goal of either defeating a certain amount of Ravenii, saving a certain amount of civilians, or protecting towers for a certain amount of time. Some missions will have up to 3 side missions to net you more upgrade points that will mix up some of the gameplay. But what is described above is about all you’ll be doing throughout the entire campaign.
Unfortunately, that is my main problem with the campaign and gameplay itself. It just gets too repetitive. Each mission essentially plays out the same; kill some small enemies and rescue civilians to gain power to kill the Ravenii. The side missions are just variations of the above where you may have a goal of saving 30 civilians, killing 5 elite monsters, or destroying a certain amount of armor pieces on the Ravenii. Small bits of challenge come from the first time encountering a Ravenii with a new piece of armor, but once you learn the trick it’s just a wash, rinse, repeat cycle.
I never felt connected to the story itself even though it does tell a decent tale with a twist because the presentation was poor. Yes there are chapters, but the missions are no more than just randomly generated missions with some dialogue sprinkled on top to give context and progression. The dialogue context/progression is important because you’ll often be replaying the same levels, but just with different objectives. A handful of missions feature a random generator where you’ll press a button for it to spin through and randomly pick a mission and level. It felt more like just an arcade mode you’d play after the story was complete, but they just threw on some dialogue and cut-scenes in between this and made it the story mode.
Just like the mission structure, the gameplay suffers the same fate. It starts out fun and frantic as you get to know the nuances of the combat and how to take down the Ravenii with devastating attacks that sever limbs. But once you realize that every Ravenii is taken down the same exact way, the monotony starts setting in. Every now and then a new armor gets introduced and you’ll need to figure out how to destroy it, but with obvious clues it doesn’t take long to figure it out and then you just repeat on the others. It doesn’t help that once you destroy the armor there are only 4 ways to slow them down and only 1 way to kill them. A large portion of the fights will be you destroying one of the leg or arm armors, chopping off a limb (which will grow back over time), then crawling on their back, up to the head and then chopping it off.
However, before you can chop off the Ogre’s head you must charge you sword up to full power. There are a few ways of doing this, but the fastest is saving civilians. Civilians in the world are all grouped around various transporting crystals that Avil needs to activate to rescue them. Smaller enemies will be attacking them and killing them so you’ll need to dispatch them before you can transport the civilians. The combat with the smaller creatures was meant to be more dynamic and it is, but the main problem here is that it’s not the best way to kill the enemies. You can do some cool combos, juggling enemies and doing area of attack moves, but it takes a lot of time to kill the enemies that way. Which is why I relied more on using the power attack that you use to destroy the armor and sever the limbs of the Revenii. One power attack kills the smaller enemies while it take 6 or 7 regular attacks. This, yet again, led to the feelings of repetitiveness even outside the giant Ogre fights.
Once you’ve charged up your sword you can now chop the head off the Ogre, but every time you do you’ll have to recharge your sword. Yep, that means going back to rescuing civilians and killing small enemies. In some cases you’ll need to do this back and forth many times because unlike SotC you’ll be fighting multiple Ravenii. There is an upgrade you can buy that will let you start with 30% of your meter charged at all times, which makes it easier to charge the sword by destroying armor and limbs if you’re getting tired of the civilian rescue loop.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are moments of really fun action within Extinction. Even if taking down the Ravenii becomes less exciting or engaging as you go on, pulling off a flawless traversal and elimination is still satisfying. One of the more fun aspect of the game is traveling through the environments, running up buildings, bouncing off canopies and using your grappling hook to fling yourself up and into a glide. Performing all this to reach the Ogre, then quickly destroying the armor, cutting off all its limbs and then cutting off the head is still entertaining. It just doesn’t evolve enough to keep it fresh for more than a few hours.
You’ll be able to upgrade and unlock various abilities as you acquire more points from completing missions. I mentioned one above which is a massive help, but you’ll also be able to speed up the process by which you rescue civilians, the height you jump from bouncing on canopies and trees, a dodge attack ability, recovery maneuver and a few more to become an Ogre slaying machine. You can also upgrade your health, but I didn’t find it to be very important because most of the attacks or environments that you’ll be hitting kill you in one hit anyway. No matter how high I upgraded my health, if an Ogre hit me with a direct attack I was dead. Same with falling into a spiked bush. . . Yeah a spiked bush is instant death and it’s as annoying as it sounds.
I actually really enjoy the art style, however. It resembles an interesting mix of comic style and a painterly look. For instance the Ogres are big and bold but they retain detail within the large black lines on their body to show definition. The environments have more of the paint look and I especially like the effect that happens when a Ravenii destroys some buildings. They blow up in a nice spray of what looks like paint strokes. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. After the explosion of the building, badly detailed rubble is left and it all looks the same for every destroyed building. What’s more disappointing, especially with the scope of the game, is how poor the draw distance is. I was playing on the full ultra settings and there are massive pop-ins and some drastic levels of detail loss in everything but the Ogres.
The sound design, sadly, leaves a lot to be desired. Missing are any epic songs to accompany the scale and power of an incoming Ravenii or the thrill of fighting and dismembering it. However, the other sound effects of combat, ground pounds and loud growls (that will send you flying back if you’re gliding towards them) are all well done. The voice acting for the most part is passable with only a couple instances of some bad line delivery.
I was really hoping Extinction was going to be a big sleeper hit considering it hasn’t gotten extensive coverage. It had the potential to be great because it does have some amazing ideas, but ultimately it fails in its execution. There are fun moments, especially in the beginning, but it quickly becomes stale as you repeatedly do the same process of elimination. Extinction does offer other modes like Extinction Mode where you fight off endless waves and Skirmish where you play against your friends’ high score, but these are only fun if you aren’t completely burnt out by the repetitive tasks already.
Check out our 30 minutes of gameplay here.
The art style is simple, but nice and bold. The Ravenii designs are well done, but the draw distance is very disappointing.
There are moments of really fun action in the beginning chapters, but it quickly becomes repetitive and stale.
The combat with the Ravenii is great with their booming screams and pounding feet and attacks. However, the voice acting is lacking, but passable.
Fun Factor: 6.5
Campaign lasted about 7 hours with collecting all but 4 side objectives. Unfortunately when the combat gets stale so does its other modes.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Reviewed on PC.
Extinction is available now on PC, Xbox One and PS4.
A copy of Extinction was provided by the publisher.