When I first saw Extinction, it seemed like a great idea: massive ogres attacking a city while a hero grapples and climbs them, removing their heads with a nice satisfying slash. Sadly in execution, Extinction doesn’t live up to the idea of how cool it will be to fight 150-foot tall enemies, and that isn’t the only thing holding this game back.
Extinction’s action, at first, feels slick and fun and satisfying. You have to kill smaller monsters on the ground to build up enough energy to land a killing blow on a Ravenii, which are these massive generic ogre type monsters, except they have a twist: these big lumbering oafs can regenerate limbs faster than Deadpool and they seem to be able to teleport into the fight from anywhere. Avil is a Sentinel and has trained in how to fight this scourge that is slowly destroying everything on the planet and as such he can jump pretty high and do some interesting aerial moves and parkour. When he gets up close you can remove an unarmoured limb or destroy armour with a focused strike, which slows down time for you to get your aim right. Take out a leg and the enemy drops to the floor, sitting like a frustrated baby.
This makes it a lot easier to work on other limbs or reach the base of the Ravenii’s neck. If your meter is full, you can chop that ugly thing’s head clean off, which it can’t regenerate. Take that sucker. You saved the town, and get to hear some terrible story exposition with weird character motivations about a king that is somehow sad about using his money when massive teleporting regenerating monsters are turning his cities into kindling, while your character dodges training anyone else to fight the Ravenii.
When aiming for locks on the inside of an enemy’s arm, the camera often gets lost trying to show you the target and not clip through the torso, meaning it whips around or shudders back and forth.
After killing a few muscly mountains, the game starts throwing armoured enemies into the mix, which you have to break before you chop off a limb (instead of chopping at the say completely unprotected part of the limb or the elbow joint). Then you get harder armour that has locks that you break off and sometimes indestructible armour so you need to charge your meter before reaching the creature, then climb up onto it and chop off its head. All of this sounds fine on paper, but there are several frustrating factors that all slowly add up and sap the fun out of Extinction.
Avil what are you doing?
For a game about aerial combat and climbing enemies, Avil and his controls are frustrating. Scrabbling up giants can set the camera in a fit and when trying to dismember your opponent the aiming controls are so sluggish that you sometimes miss the limb and trying to adjust your aim takes longer than you can freeze time for. When aiming for locks on the inside of an enemy’s arm, the camera often gets lost trying to show you the target and not clip through the torso, meaning it whips around or shudders back and forth. When not battling to climb up an opponent, you are also dealing with their attacks being able to one shot you and dodging out the way sometimes doesn’t help because their attack box is bigger than their actual animation and model, meaning you aren’t safe even if you can see an attack missed you.
You will then respawn somewhere at random (possibly right under a giant) and have to rush to get back to killing the Ravenii, who are demolishing buildings by merely touching them. Lose too many buildings and you lose the mission. Lose too many civilians and you lose the level. Add in some procedural generation, missing your enemy because of frustrating controls and camera and suddenly this level is just unbeatable because you took too long to kill the guy with invincible armour on his legs and armour with two locks on the inside of his arms and no small enemies in sight to build up your meter for a killing blow except by chopping off limbs or fighting the little guys who are somehow tougher than a giant monster’s limbs…
Besides procedurally generated levels, the objectives can be generated too, meaning you might need to kill one or two Ravenii or survive for a long period of time depending on how the dice land. As soon as enemies start attacking multiple fronts, the time pressure just becomes too much and instead of feeling pressed or encouraged, you feel stifled. I mean we are literally trying to stop humanity being wiped out, sorry I lost a building?
The game looks pretty good and the cool effect of watching a building getting vaporised by an attack and then disappearing is pretty cool until you realise you were supposed to defend it and then suddenly you hate seeing a building turn into dust.
As soon as enemies start attacking multiple fronts, the time pressure just becomes too much and instead of feeling pressed or encouraged, you feel stifled.
Extinction feels like a great concept that didn’t know where to take itself. A less nightmary Attack on Titan feels like a game and story just waiting to be made, but Extinction isn’t that game. Add in full price (game is selling for R1,000 on Steam right now) for a game that is basically doing the exact same thing to the same giant wearing different armour across a few tilesets and things wear thin extremely fast.