The Callisto Protocol Review: Dead Weight

When something new evokes our memories and nostalgia from a particular source, it places unreasonable expectations on the shoulders of that new thing. I don’t want to burden The Callisto Protocol with the weight of being a continuation of the Empty room Franchise.

In many ways, the latest space horror game from ex-EA creative director Glen Schofield, now CEO of developer Striking Distance Studios, tries at least as many new ideas as it rips off. unfortunately, The Callisto Protocol lacks the execution to implement his ideas in a particularly interesting way.

In The Callisto Protocol, You play as Jacob Lee, a space trucker guy who gets caught up in a prison break on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. In this third-person action-horror title, you’ll spend most of your time escaping while uncovering the surface secrets of a biophage outbreak.

It’s all boilerplate stuff. The story itself is a means of transporting you to a spooky environment full of monsters that want to destroy you in the most gruesome way imaginable. Through that lens The Callisto Protocol shares a beating, bloody heart Empty room, where many elements of the presentation and user interface are also heavily influenced by Schofield’s earlier title. But The Callisto Protocol makes his mission statement clear from the first encounter. This is a game about intense and punishing hand-to-hand combat.

In my experience, this led to a frustrating and confusing first few hours of the game (which only last around 10 hours in total). However, as I spent time with the unique combat mechanics, I found the encounters to have a satisfying and intended flow.

dodge and block The Callisto Protocol Is simple. As long as you’re holding down the left stick in a direction when an enemy attacks, you’ll dodge (or block if you hold the stick back towards you) the attack, regardless of direction or timing. To avoid consecutive attacks, you must push the stick in the opposite direction, creating a defensive circus of ducking and weaving.

It’s a cinematic take on melee combat, leaving the monsters open to counterattacks from your firearms, which will spawn a crosshair after a quick combo, allowing you to take them out quickly. This action feels good and the kills are satisfying. On paper that Punch out!! Fighting style could be great for some epic dueling encounters.

The problem with The Callisto ProtocolThe struggle of is twofold. The entire melee system is designed to face only one enemy at a time. In the later chapters things get messy and chaotic as you face rooms full of enemies. The second problem is that not much is changing. The tactics you learn in the first encounter are about as complex as melee combat.

The Callisto Protocol also features a handful of weapons that are most useful along with these melee combos. Once you get to the back half of the game, you have a standard resident Evil Loadout from a handful of shotguns, pistols and a machine gun. Some additions to base combat include ridiculously easy one-hit takedown stealth sections and enemies you need to take down quickly lest they morph and grow more powerful. None of these variations on the core game feel welcome; In the end, every repetitive task becomes thin.

Repetition is the Achilles heel of The Callisto Protocol. From dozens of identical combat encounters to a seemingly endless amount of slipping through narrow crevices, everything The Callisto Protocol does, make sure to repeat it. The most egregious example is a late-game boss that, after you defeat it once, spawns three more times in the final hours of the game.

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This boss – a frustrating one in the first place – is just one of many small bugs that hamper the game The Callisto Protocol. Inconsistent checkpoints run amok. Occasionally getting stuck in a section and repeatedly loading a checkpoint would cause item pickup to go away entirely, further skewing the difficulty in my favor. Thankfully, this was the only major game-changing bug encountered in my playthrough, though one GameSkinny editor ran into issues that didn’t allow him to use health packs or switch weapons in a boss fight.

The user interface is also clunky and difficult to navigate Empty room but make it worse. The camera is so zoomed in on protagonist Jacob Lee that a clunky claustrophobia permeates the entire game. When picking up items off the ground, you often just hit the pickup button because you can’t see what you’re picking up. Which of course leads to more inventory management time in the awful menus.

I’ve been alternating between the medium and easy difficulty levels of the game throughout my time The Callisto Protocol, and honestly, I often forgot what setting the game was shot on. Aside from letting you take a few more hits, the difficulty options feel like they do very little to fix the balancing spikes that plague the game. Still, a solid number of accessibility options are offered, a surprising benefit in a game that feels actively untested in parts by human players.

The other positive points can all be credited The Callisto Protocol‘s atmosphere. The game is probably the most technically impressive game I’ve ever seen on a Series X. The 4K graphics mode highlights the absolutely stunning lighting and visual effects. Turning on performance mode will ensure a smooth 60 FPS, and the game will still be great, albeit at a lower resolution.

The artistic direction of The Callisto Protocol doesn’t do anything groundbreaking. The enemy designs don’t make much of an impression. Still, I can’t help but admit that the atmosphere and production values ​​propelled me through the game more than any of its narrative or systems. Black Iron Prison might not have been the most interesting place to explore, but it looked damn good.

Review of the Callisto Protocol – the bottom line


  • Technically beautiful graphics.
  • The basics of combat are great for one-on-one encounters.


  • The fight collapses under the weight of multiple enemies and boss fights.
  • The gameplay is repetitive and doesn’t evolve much.
  • A cliche story told in a boring setting.
  • Plagued by small bits of bad design like inconsistent checkpoints and unbalanced difficulty settings.

Visually, The Callisto Protocol is one of the few games for PS5 and Xbox Series X that feels like a next-gen game. But that ambition clearly comes at a price. With all its bells and whistles The Callisto Protocol doesn’t do much new with its history or design. It is not Only A Empty room Copycat, but it manages to take a lot of ideas from previous action horror games and execute them half as well.

Along with myriad factors and the fact that the New Game Plus and Hardcore modes – staples of the genre – are only coming next year, this is proof of that The Callisto Protocol should have been given more time for a smoother, fully featured launch.

[Note: Krafton provided the copy of The Callisto Protocol used for this review.]

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