Scorn is a game that came out with very little introduction or explanation for what you’re getting into. Heavily inspired by H. R. Giger and a whole lot of body horror, the game presents a beautifully disturbing aesthetic. However, playing the game leaves a lot of polarizing content well beyond the disturbing sights.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Puzzle Solve
Our story is about waking up in a strange world, where there is a mysterious tower, flesh, and metal everywhere, and our only option is to go forward and explore. The aesthetics of Scorn are incredible, and I really love the physicality of how things operate in the world.
People online have been describing the game with various tags from “survival horror” to “walking simulator,” and I feel that Scorn sits more on the adventure side than it does anything else. The game’s M.O. is that each stage is made up of one giant puzzle that is solved by going through a series of smaller ones around the area. The challenge of the game is that Scorn's world is not like our own, and half of the puzzle solutions are about figuring out what something does and how it moves the rest of the solutions along. There are several standard critical thinking puzzles throughout the game as well.
As you play, you’ll eventually discover tools and Scorn starts to add some bite to the gameplay.
After the game’s opening area, you will, surprisingly, unlock the first of several tools in the form of a weapon/key. This device can be outfitted with different heads that can be used provided you find ammo for them. The enemies in the world are very slow, but they can attack at close and long ranges. Combat is not the focus of Scorn: you can outrun almost any enemy, and you also find limited ammo and healing stations around the various stages.
Enemies in this game simply serve to give you something else to worry about while solving puzzles, but if you have any experience in survival horror situations, you should be fine. Scorn has been hit with very divisive reviews, and where you fall on it will come down to what you’re looking for in a game.
All Hail the New Flesh
Scorn’s gameplay has been kept under wraps and it has led to many people questioning what the game is and who its intended audience might be. While the game features disturbing sights and imagery, it is not a full-on horror game. It sits more along the lines of a first-generation survival horror game — where combat is there, but not the focus.
I enjoyed the game, but it is not without its own problems. The pacing is all over the place, and many people will stop playing before they finish act 1. The opening is one of the worst sections of the game — it is very slow to move around, features an annoying sliding puzzle, and everything takes far more time than it should. The game really doesn’t begin in earnest until you get access to your first weapon and combat becomes a part of the gameplay. I would suggest that if you get stuck in act 1, just watch a guide and speed through it, as the rest of the game is far more enjoyable.
The disturbing sights that await you in this world are something to behold, and I wish that there was more of a reason to look around. There are no hidden collectibles, lore, or even any dialogue that goes into explaining what’s going on. The entire philosophy of the game is exploring a disturbing world alone. As the game goes on and combat becomes fully integrated into the gameplay, Scorn reaches its highest peak for me. Each area features drastically different puzzles all the way to the game’s confusing ending. As a bit of a spoiler, there is only one forced fight in the entire game with a boss near the end that I feel could have been a bit better in terms of telegraphing some of the weak points.
As someone who likes old-school survival horror, Scorn worked for me, but it can be a very tough sell for everyone else. This is a game that follows its own beat and does very little to motivate someone to go through its disturbing trials. While not for everyone, I do think if you aren’t squeamish about body horror, at least give it a try and see if the game hooks you. I love the setting and aesthetics and would like to see another game explore this further.
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