Developer: Iron Galaxy
Publisher: Modus Games
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
With its promise of epic battles against giant beasts across huge battlefields, Extinction had been firmly on my radar ever since its initial reveal. I mean, the gameplay trailers alone looked great, whilst the team at Iron Galaxy have a good track record of releases too. Everything was in place for it to be an enjoyable action-packed title.
Now I’ve finally played the game through, I can’t help but to feel underwhelmed. Sure, it delivers on its promise of these huge battles, but after you’ve seen them the first few times they develop into repetitive slogs that are littered with frustrations throughout. It’s just lacking in almost all areas of design and ends up feeling like a disappointment overall.
Extinction takes place in a world where humans are getting wiped out by a huge race of creatures known as the Ravenii. With their ability to teleport seemingly anywhere and the sheer force they bring to battle, they’ve been wiping out civilizations with ease as they look to take over the world. Fortunately, the humans find hope in Avil and Xandra – two Sentinels who’re not only able to take down the Ravenii but have a plan to find a safe haven for humanity.
It’s a decent little tale and one that’ll keep you engaged throughout, with plenty of conversations taking place between characters and animated cutscenes in-between chapters that go into depth about the game’s world and history. It’s not the most cinematic of titles you’re going to play with most of the story progression coming in the form of characters speaking at the start and end of missions, but it offers enough to at least make you care about everything that’s going on.
Extinction’s gameplay consists of working across multiple large maps, all whilst completing specific objectives before the area is completely destroyed (you have an extinction meter in the top corner that slowly dwindles down in percentage). Of course, your life is made more difficult thanks to the massive beasts you encounter known as Ravenii, who can only be defeated by figuring out how to destroy their armour and then dismembering them. These Ravenii won’t go down without a fight though and it makes for some bloody cool battles that are both epic in scale and exciting to witness in-game. Seriously – Extinction can be really impressive at times.
Whilst some of the showdowns with the giant Ravenii can be incredibly cool, they could also be frustrating. Climbing them could be a bit finicky, with the player character sometimes falling off the body for no reason whatsoever. The fact that nearly all of their attacks are one-hit kills was annoying too, especially since you’d respawn at the start of a level and have to make your way back to the Ravenii.
Worst of all though was the fact that you can only actually kill them once you’ve filled your rune energy meter, which allows you to dismember the head. This fills up by killing enemies, saving civilians, or dismembering the Ravenii’s limbs, which is fair game and ensures that you can’t just destroy enemies straight away. The problem is, once you’ve rescued most of the civilians or killed most of the smaller enemies, it fills up incredibly slowly. The Ravenii will destroy the city quite quickly if you don’t stop them, so being forced to fill up your rune meter time and time again to take them down was just frustrating and felt like more of a punishment – especially since multiple Ravenii keep entering the battlefield over large distances.
Of course, you can stall them by taking off a leg, but simply repeating this time and time again as you attempt to charge your rune meter is a drag. It often made me feel more frustrated when a Ravenii appeared as opposed to being excited to take them down, which goes completely against the whole concept of the game.
You’re not just taking on huge Ravenii, but also fight smaller enemies known as Jackals. These come in both land and air varieties, with different colours determining how much of a punch they pack (and can take). They do add a little bit of variety to the experience outside of simply taking down the giants, though they shouldn’t cause too many issues for the player. You can typically wipe them out with a few simple combos, though a well-aimed focus hit does the job too.
Besides the frustrations that come with taking on the Ravenii, the biggest problem with Extinction is the fact that it just feels so damn repetitive, with each level feeling identical to the last outside of a different (yet largely familiar) objective. There are different objectives in place with some tasking you with the likes of protecting civilians, killing a specific amount of enemies, or protecting watchtowers for a certain amount of time (which is the absolute worst, might I add) – no matter what the objective is though, the game always feels the same to play. Sure, you might see a few different enemy types as you progress, but you’ll literally see everything that Extinction has to offer in the first hour alone. Having one impressive hour out of the eight it took to clear the campaign isn’t really good enough.
It’s the same with the levels themselves, with them barely looking different outside of a few different textures here and there. They’re always impressively large and packed with detail, but there was no level throughout the game which ever stood out as feeling distinctly unique. What you’re left with is the same old objectives being played out across incredibly similar locations time and time again – it’s not really a recipe for a fun and varied experience.
It’s a real shame that Extinction grows boring so fast, because there really is a lot of potential there. It looks great visually, dashing up and around each area is a lot of fun, whilst the battles themselves can feel pretty epic. The experience as a whole just isn’t fleshed out enough and has too many moments of frustration littered in-between each enjoyable encounter.
Outside of the main campaign, there are a couple of single player modes to keep you invested in the game with Skirmishes and Daily Challenges offering a slew of additional content. The problem is, it consists of the same sort of things you would’ve grown tired of in the main campaign. There’s nothing there that’ll really draw you to return to the game, whilst a lack of rewards means there’s no incentive either. It’s a shame – if Extinction had multiplayer or something I think I’d be intrigued to come back for more, but the current offering doesn’t really inspire me to return to the game now that I’m done with the campaign.