I booted up Extinction with hopes of finding something akin to the PS2 classic Shadow of the Colossus or, at the very least, in the same vein as 2016’s Attack on Titan game. What I actually received was something far less palatable. This title has you leaping about the world as Avil, the last Sentinel, who has personally taken on the task of helping save the last remaining kingdom from the towering beasts known as the Ravenii. With the help of his Sentinel-in-training side-kick Xandra (the brains of the group), the two set out to find King Yarrow and save the Kingdom of Dolorum from certain doom. Now, Ravenii are massive orc-like monsters that seem to have no objective other than the extinction of the human race. They are not the only enemy we face on our journey, however, as Jackals, human sized creatures of various types (some are basic grunts, some are ranged, some fly, etc.), are a constant nuisance for our hero during his trek across the lands.
Sadly, even with an enticing premise such as this, the game falls flat. Avil, our strapping hero and last of a group of soldiers so extraordinary, reclusive, and awe-inspiring they are thought to be myths, is unwieldy at best. Having only two attacks, he falls a bit short on the combat meter; the X button is your primary means of attack, and while combos do exist, it leaves the player simply mashing the X button in various ways until whatever is in front of them is dead. The LB is your Rune Strike, a ‘powerful’ attack that slows time, can rend the unarmored limbs from the Ravenii with a single well placed strike, and is the ability that is used to deliver the killing blow to the mountainous brutes but can’t put as much as a dent into the Elite Jackals. It also seemed to have some odd recharge rate that, for the life of me, I could not figure out.
The A button is your jump and you’ll be using it almost constantly. The B button causes Avil to dodge while on the ground and to dash/glide though the air when airborne. The RB fires your grappling whip, though you’ll need a context sensitive promp to actually grapple anything, and slows time when there is no grappling whip target. Avil also automatically bounces on awnings and treetop canopies as well as clambers up walls a certain distance even without the player pressing forward on the joystick. And, due to the precise nature of some of the elements of this game (such as landing blows on special Ravenii armor) this leads to many frustrating moments.
The Ravenii themselves are also annoying in their inconsistency. Lower level Ravenii posed little problem, being either armor-less or wearing simple wooden armor, as you lop off limb after limb until you fill your Killing Strike meter (the meter that must be filled to be able to execute a Ravenii and is depleted after each Ravenii you kill). Later levels up the ante by introducing Ravenii with special armors which have unique properties, respectively; some sport Brightsteel armor (an armor that cannot be destroyed or removed in any way), Bone armor (you must get the Ravenii to punch/kick the ground/themselves to extinguish the flames in the bird skulls on the armor to then be able to destroy the skulls and break the armor), Thorn armor (armor covered in thorns that injure Avil if he touches it but have weak spots, allowing for it to be destroyed), and Spiked armor (spike covered armor that injures Avil and can only be destroyed after the Ravenii has punched/kicked the ground/themselves enough to break the armor). Ravenii sometimes wear a mixture of armors but the ‘higher level’ ones tend to wear full sets. Ravenii also seem to have odd bursts of speed and, at times, acute awareness of the player while, on the opposite end of the spectrum, are sometimes quite slow and ignore the players despite your best efforts to get their attention (this is the worst with Ravenii who wear armor sets that require them to attack the player for the armor to be destroyed).
Animated cutscenes – Surprisingly enough, the animated cutscenes that give us more backstory are probably the highlight of the game and done quite well, even if they didn’t really fit the visual style of the rest of the game. They sometimes went, however, from well-drawn and fully animated to something closer to a motion comic. In all honestly, I would be far more interested in seeing a mini-movie telling stories prior to the game done in the animated art style of the first few cutscenes than I would in seeing a sequel to this underwhelming entry. Anyway, they cutscenes were probably the most enjoyable portion of the game, an impressive yet sad feat.
Plenty of modes – Extinction offers a few different game modes: Single-player Campaign, Challenges, Skirmish, Daily Challenges, and Extinction. Single-player is what you would expect, the story mode. Challenges as well as Daily Challenges, once again, are what you would expect from such modes. Skirmish mode tasks the player with saving civilians in a sort of race against the clock situation. And Extinction acts as a sort of hoard mode with the players game ending if they die (you only have a single life) or if the Extinction Meter (a percentage representing the amount of buildings and civilians remaining) reaches zero.
Movement – The movement system was a big letdown. Avil’s movement abilities are lacking, which is slightly more damning than his insufficient combat prowess. Movement in general seems a bit sluggish and inaccurate, making performing certain tasks more of a test of patience than one of skill. Many instances throughout gameplay attributed to this including: randomly bouncing across treetops while desperately trying to save civilians on the ground; sprinting into doom up the back of a Ravenii and its thorn-covered shoulder pads, that I distressingly attempted to dodge; and flailing about in an attempt to climb the hulk, who lacks grappling perches, in hopes of closing in on that annoying forehead lock keeping its helmet in place.
Repetitive gameplay – Extinction has to be one of the most repetitive games I’ve played in recent years; nothing really changes throughout the entire game. The formula performs as follows: the player is dropped into a map, saves civilians, kills Jackals, waits for Ravenii, and then kills Ravenii. While there are some variances here and there, which are mostly limited to things such as saving X number of civilians or protecting the Watchtowers for X amount of time, the bulk of your game will be following the aforementioned pattern throughout most of Extinction’s 23 missions.
Lackluster Story – The story is a rather forgettable affair in which we learn more about the past of the Sentinels, the Ravenii, our two main characters, and the end goal. While the voice acting isn’t the worst I’ve ever heard but the actors themselves seemed to have been rather bored during recording. The actual game world itself was a bland space devoid of anything truly interesting and, not surprisingly, lacked any real musical or ambient noises.There was so much untapped potential with Extinction’s story that it pains me to have to put it in the downsides. But, with cutscenes only appearing at the end of chapters, a pedestrian story told mostly through stilted dialogue given before and after a mission, and run-of-the-mill characters, Extinction missed what should have been an easy mark to hit.
Technical issues – More than once I had issues when dealing with the Ravenii. On a few occasions, when scaling the hulking brutes, they would move against something or turn in a way that would physically force Avil inside of their model. The player would then float for a moment or two before being dropped out of the Ravenii’s model (if they are lucky) or he would simply die inside of them and respawn some distance away, giving the creature more time to destroy the city. There was also an instance or two in which the civilians I was supposed to save simply didn’t exist, forcing me to restart the mission when on the precipice of victory.
Overall, I was rather disappointed in Extinction. The potential and resources were quite clearly there but Iron Galaxy just failed to deliver. Perhaps this could be a lesson learned in what does and doesn’t work and in the next Extinction installment (if they decide to develop another) we could see all of these pieces come together as they should have. However, at $60 USD, it’s a very steep price to pay for something that is easily the weakest version of this type of game. Would highly recommend you wait for a big sale on it or for it to join Games with Gold as a free title.
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Extinction was developed by Iron Galaxy and published by Modus Games. It was released for Xbox One [reviewed], PlayStation 4, and Windows on April 10th, 2018. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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