The Callisto Protocol really is dead space review

The Callisto Protocol really is dead space. review

Played on PC

The Callisto protocol attracted attention as Dead Space’s spiritual legacy after the announcement, and the developers themselves poured fuel on the fire and praised their project, including in a series of in-depth interviews on the Ars Technica channel. We were promised some gritty and terrifying horror, among other things – and they made it so beautiful I really wanted to believe it. That’s right, neither the sequel to Dead Space nor an at least elementally strong game didn’t work.

    At least the game's landscapes can surprise at times

At least the game’s landscapes can surprise at times

Who I am?

After the credits roll, The Callisto Protocol leaves the feeling that she hasn’t decided what she wants to be yet. In terms of visual style and theme, this is truly Dead Space – familiar holographic menus, the absence of any alien UI (except for rare hints), a life bar around the hero’s neck, space stations, monsters out of nowhere, and so on. However, in terms of gameplay, the project came out too clumsy and stuck right between action and horror, never daring to lean in any direction.

The Callisto Protocol isn’t horror, because horror has to be scary and/or constantly tense: a weak hero, few resources and many enemies, fear of the unknown or psychological tricks. All of the elements don’t have to be there at the same time, but there’s rarely a sense of security in a good horror film. The first Dead Space is just one great example – slow, viscous, using the Ishimura’s cramped corridors and tenacious Necromorphs to create a gooey atmosphere of danger. Even with a set of different weapons, advancing was not very comfortable – you still had to shoot accurately, and opponents in different combinations interfered with normal aiming, constantly trying to close the gap with the clumsy character.

    Flugengege….Flugegenhane….  What was the stop word?  (Everyone who isn't lazy joked about it, but such a scene)

Flugengege….Flugegenhane…. What was the stop word? (Everyone who isn’t lazy joked about it, but such a scene)

The Callisto protocol is desperately trying to copy that approach – same narrow corridors, same play of light and shadow, and mutants don’t die in two hits. There are far fewer strange noises. That doesn’t do the atmosphere any good though, especially since unlike Isaac, Jacob is a simple guy – just a bit, he’ll hit him in the forehead with a baton in an instant. A lot of attention is paid to melee combat here: the hero can dodge blows indefinitely, and resources for melee combat are not required – the character is just too strong to care about him in any way. There’s always a tool at hand to solve problems, and if someone climbs forward too boldly, you can use telekinesis to throw them away.

Yes, at the very beginning the hero can die pretty quickly, but it’s worth getting used to the dodge system (which, by the way, doesn’t always register stick swings correctly, leading to stupid deaths), and learning how to perform endless combos through that Canceling animations and pumping up the damage a bit like normal enemies are no longer a threat. The game doesn’t know how to scare, which makes it extremely stupid – on the level of a horribly screaming snout of a “mysterious person with his back to you”.tm.

The action of the Callisto protocol is also useless. Again, you can turn to the inspirational series by picking up Dead Space 2. Compared to the first part, the sequel went too far towards action and at the same time worked well with the pacing. The run along the second “place” is like a roller coaster, where situations, like enemies, are constantly changing, and coolly staged moments entertain until the end. The recently released Resident Evil Village did exactly the same thing – the mood and even the approach to the gameplay within it changes every few hours.

    The bloody deaths persisted

The bloody deaths persisted

“Callisto” seems very faded against this background. A maximum of one and a half staged moments are typed for every 7-8 hour passage. The whole game revolves around finding fuses for doors (seriously, that’s the only thing to do here) and fighting in arena rooms. In and of itself, that’s neither good nor bad – implementation is important, and there are issues with it because the approach to combat after acquiring telekinesis doesn’t change until the credits roll. There are few types of enemies here, and with those who are, they couldn’t come up with anything interesting – they just rush into the front lines, and you scatter them with a mace, then with telekinesis or a shotgun. You rush – you disperse. You rush – you disperse. Again and again, room after room, using the same techniques, with no unique situations, resource controls, tactics, and the slightest shred of wits. There are more ideas in an opening level in Resident Evil 4 than in the entire Callisto log.

Outside of those same battles, the “Protocol” just surprises with an insane amount of ventilation to crawl through and walls to squeeze between. There’s really nothing to explore here, there aren’t any quests, at least telekinesis, the level design (not to be confused with graphic design) is primitive – and it’s quite odd to see this in a game that’s released multiple console generations after Dead Space 2 and Resident Evil 4.

    It looks like the “new generation” has finally arrived.

It looks like the “new generation” has finally arrived.

From time to time, the Callisto protocol decides it’s time for stealth… And it would be better if he didn’t. A whole chapter is devoted to the crouching and lazy cutting out of blind mutants that cheesily further seal the passageway. In theory, they should react to sounds, but in reality, mutants only become active when they hear the hero’s footsteps or shots – in all other cases, the action is absolutely purple for the monsters, even if you commit a hidden murder (certainly with screams and screaming) half a meter away from them. It’s particularly funny when Jakob then whispers over the radio that he’s not allowed to make any noise.

All of this is overshadowed by issues with the PC version. Crazy slowdowns every few minutes and constant crashes are just a small part of the bang for your buck. The game is now literally edited with a file – the first patch already fixed some freezes that occur when compiling shaders in real time, but everything else remained for now. Most likely, the project will be brought to a reasonable level in the future (the season ticket has to be sold somehow), but the normal quality has to be guaranteed on the day of release, and not sometime later. And even if the technical part is brought to mind, it does not improve the more important aspect – the gameplay.

After all, The Callisto Protocol is conceptually similar to Dead Space, but in fact it’s more reminiscent of The Order: 1886 – another graphically beautiful project without a single entertaining idea behind its soul. The “Protocol” was considered a legacy of “dead space,” but not only does it not improve aspects of its mastermind, it fails even to replicate them at the same qualitative level. Of course, beating mutants with a club is fun for a while, because combat is almost the only thing that is implemented more or less normally here. But as it turns out, that doesn’t get you very far, and that’s all the work of the Striking Distance studio just can’t offer.


  • excellent graphics – facial animation particularly stands out;
  • fun melee system.


  • everything else – from the fact that the game does not have a single memorable moment and even a touch of horror, to primitive level design, endless fuses, boring battles and bosses.


What cannot be taken away from the game is the excellent graphic design. Lights, environments and especially the faces of the characters appear photorealistic in places. And then the frequency drops to five frames per second for a few seconds, destroying even the slightest hint of immersion.


To be honest, I had expected a lot more from The Callisto Protocol in terms of the tonal accompaniment. Monster-picking in the vents can make you cramp in a few spots, but otherwise nothing particularly outstanding.

single player game

Finding a million fuses and killing the same enemies in the arenas is all the project has to offer. There are no interesting staging moments or situations here, nor anything frightening (apart from the technical condition).

collective game

Not provided.

overall impression

The Callisto Protocol aimed to be either a horror or an action film, but it fell short in either case. She’s unable to startle or even stay in limbo, and for action she’s at least lacking some exciting moments and varied combat situations. But it looks beautiful.

class: 5.0/ten

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