Scars Above again the first contact does not go

Scars Above – again the first contact does not go according to plan. review

Played on PC

Ironically, Scars Above, billed at launch as a cheap copy of Returnal for PC, was released the same month as the PC version of Returnal itself However, the difference between them is huge. And it’s not that the Serbian Mad Head Games mentioned earlier by Pagan Online have much less resources. Scars Above focuses on leisurely exploration of an alien world. In addition, not all ideas were implemented at the right level.

Synergy of the Elements

In the not-too-distant future, humanity will finally have satisfied its curiosity about being alone in the universe – a giant artificial pyramid floating above the earth is the silent answer. In no time at all, the United States dispatched a team of scientists to an unidentified object — no, not a salvo of nuclear missiles. Namely a special SCAR squad. Although four people appear to be still too modest a group for such a mission.

    Brave strange world

Brave strange world

Of course, trying to get in wasn’t without flaws. One moment Kate Ward, the main character of the story, is sitting at the dashboard, the next comes to his senses in the wilderness. And the trees that grow here are not earthly at all. Not to mention visions with images of aliens, strange artifacts and a colossus on the horizon.

Scars Above diligently creates an atmosphere of the unknown. The impressions of the first hour can be summarized briefly: “Nothing is clear, but very interesting.” The intrigue grows. After an answer is given, the game immediately asks a new question. In the end it all comes together into a coherent story. Given some assumptions and superficial explanations, not even white spots remain. Without hanging in the air “who?”, “why?” and why?”. Also explains the post-death revival of the storyline.

Kate is primarily a scientist, a gifted engineer, but not a warrior at all, and the developers tried to build a process around that idea. She collects weapons from improvised devices. For example, in the prologue, you will create the VERA electrocannon to increase the power of the ship’s reactor. The fact that she shoots bolts is a nice bonus that will come in handy when surviving.

    The appearance of the alien race exudes notes of Mass Effect.  Like the soundtrack

The appearance of the alien race exudes notes of Mass Effect. Like the soundtrack

But if you’ve already envisioned a full-scale crafting system, then dampen your expectations. Assembling the first device is set up as an elementary, but still mini-game. But all the other tools are also printed at the touch of a button by a pocket-sized 3D printer.

In addition to the Arc Cannon, Kate’s arsenal is replenished with a Flamethrower, Ice Thrower and Acid Shotgun. It’s thanks to Mad Head Games that various elements aren’t just used as beautiful multicolored effects – most of the mechanics are built around their interaction with each other and the world. For example, the first thing you learn is that electricity hits wet enemies harder. And if they are in water, the damage is not only higher, but also spreads over a decent area.

Enemy fauna have their weaknesses. For example, one of the variations on the gorilla or bear theme has a weak spot that is susceptible to heat. But when it rains, the effectiveness of the fire cannon is greatly reduced. On the other hand, in such a situation, an ice cannon can quickly freeze an aggressive creature. Not only the elements help in battle, but also the environment: you can hit a stalactite right on the enemy’s head or break through a layer of ice underneath, causing him to fall into the abyss.

    The scanner highlights enemies' vulnerable points

The scanner highlights enemies’ vulnerable points

Unfortunately, in the end, the writers either run out of imagination or resources, and the room for improvisation is drastically reduced. Despite this, the battles in Scars Above are mostly almost puzzles, during which you need to correctly assess the situation and choose the right tool. And best of all: The right decision is not necessarily one. Boss fights, where you have to use several tricks at once, were particularly successful.

Not a soldier, but a Boy Scout

In addition to elemental weapons, Keith gathers utilities as he explores the alien world: an energy shield, a decoy hologram, and several other useful gadgets. The heroine, while not a space infantryman, has enough arsenal to fend off any alien threat with ease (at least on the second of three difficulty levels).

But she gets pumping points like a true scientist — studying the features of an alien world. Mysterious “knowledge cubes” are scattered around the area. Found – increased the amount of knowledge. Filling the bar to 100% gives you a skill point that you can spend to unlock a passive upgrade: increase max ammo, heal more efficiently, and so on. There is no point in guessing about the choice, because in the end a curious player will easily open all the upgrades.

    A well-aimed shot will save you from a big problem.

A well-aimed shot will save you from a big problem.

Also, when you face an enemy for the first time after winning, you can scan the carcass. And this is the only way to gain combat experience. If in the future there is an opportunity to walk past the same monster, then there is no point in lingering for a shootout. Unless they won’t let you go on without a win, or you need to calmly solve the puzzle and the monster interferes.

The puzzles are not particularly complicated. In most cases, you’ll either need to find a key element to open Sesame, or send the element you want to a specific point, focusing more on color than logic. There are a few pleasant exceptions where you even have to turn around.

But what you don’t need to think about is the route. For a game about exploring an alien world, Scars Above proved too linear. All caches are scattered in the small rooms – branches from the main corridor, and the reward in them is modest. Usually it’s just another experience die, or if you’re lucky you can find a weapon upgrade like an extended magazine or an extra projectile per shot.

    If you see the cocoons in advance, the enemies can be burned even before they go out into the world

If you see the cocoons in advance, the enemies can be burned even before they go out into the world

* * *

Scars Above is constrained by limited resources. The very concept of the game suggests scope, and it seems to me that the developers have used the available resources in the most efficient way. Realizing that it wouldn’t be possible to create an interesting open world with small forces, they focused on a short but rich linear narrative with interesting battles. Perhaps next time Mad Head Games will conquer a new peak – the finale in every way encourages the continuation of the banquet.


  • interesting battles based on the interaction of elements with each other and with the environment;
  • a whole story will answer all the questions asked;
  • the atmosphere of a strange mysterious world.


  • elementary puzzles;
  • I would like to put more emphasis on the study of the foreign world.


The game draws pleasant landscapes and rich elemental effects. The models are moderately detailed, but the animation is short.


The acting is good for a project of this caliber, and some nice electronic tunes are catchy and reference Sam Hulick’s soundtrack for Mass Effect.

single player game

Competent linear action, which primarily “relies” on an interesting combat system.

Estimated travel time

Six to eight hours, depending on the level of difficulty and the desire to look under every pebble.

collective game

Not provided.

general impression

Linear fantasy adventure with a good story. Despite all the shortcomings, a rare and welcome guest in our time.

Degree: 7.0/10

Learn more about the rating system



    About the author

    Alan Foster

    Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

    Add Comment

    Click here to post a comment