Video Games

Scorn Looks Like Giger, But Might Play Like The Witness

Contempt feels teetering on a slimy ledge between “intriguingly disturbing” and “deliberately grotesque.” The hour or so I play the game (the first section completely tutorial-free) introduces me to a truly jarring biotech setting and how its many opaque puzzles link together to create a wordless It shows how to form a neat chain of storytelling. Occasionally, I resented being relegated to less-impressive straight-body horrors beyond the fleshy landscape that Giger has been indebted to.

Puzzles are at the heart of Scorn. It may be played from an FPS perspective and may offer what appear to be weapons, but this is a game for the brain. Starting with a mysterious protagonist literally tearing himself out of a seemingly alive landscape, his Scorn doesn’t show on-screen what to do or how anything works. A contraption to see what happens.

To Scorn’s credit, this self-directed approach works well. Soon you’ll be given equipment (well, heavily implanted) that will allow you to operate a biotech machine, and you’ll get to try out what it’s for. The player is then drawn to one puzzle (which unlocks this big door), but slowly realizes it’s actually made up of multiple smaller puzzles that need to be chained together. .

These vary from strangely familiar (the puzzle of getting a giant disgusting egg out of a wall is actually a simple one). sliding puzzle In disguise) into something truly bizarre (in one section, they used what appeared to be a slaughterhouse bolt gun to try to destroy floating steam vents and feed on giant pillars? ). It’s a very sophisticated way of connecting gameplay with the world and vice versa. The mix of pristine design and very unfamiliar locations makes for a satisfying challenge to solve.

Scorn’s story seems to be as intentionally left blank as the solution to the puzzle – I think it takes as much mental effort to interpret this world as it does to the gameplay. For the most part, it’s charming, unique as far as games are concerned, and a worthy tribute to Cronenberg, Giger, and perhaps even Junji Ito.

But at some point I felt it approached something like agony. It employs a more hilarious and voyeuristic annoyance. It doesn’t say much about the solution, but the core puzzle in this opening area focuses on using an almost fetus-like figure as a means of escape. Your mileage may vary, but having to cut them repeatedly–watching them writhe, scream, and silently beg them to stop–felt more like a provocation than a conspiracy to me. It was repulsive, but not in the way I’d come to expect from what seemed like an exercise in quiet, creeping fear.

I’m very interested in seeing this more overt misery become part of the wider game, especially since it completely changes the mood set by the other puzzles. It feels like a very strange, deeply thoughtful approach to mystery-solving, perhaps most easily rivaled by The Witness. Personally, I’d love to see more of that, but if you’re looking for real discomfort, it seems to have it covered as well.

Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News.follow him twitterAny tips? Want to talk about possible stories?please send an email to

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