Scars Above is an exciting new release from Mad Head Games that combines intense combat, intriguing storytelling, and stunning visuals to create a truly immersive gaming experience.
Set in a futuristic world where you play as Kate Ward, a skilled space explorer who finds herself stranded on an alien planet after a crash landing. As you explore the hostile terrain, you'll encounter terrifying creatures and ancient technology that hold the key to your survival and the fate of humanity.
The combat in Scars Above is fast-paced and challenging, with a variety of weapons and abilities at your disposal. Kate is equipped with a sci-fi welder that, as you progress through the game, gets upgraded with new elemental capabilities. You start with electric ammo where you shoot straight bolts of lighting, but soon you unlock Fire, Ice, and Acid.
I really like what the devs have done here with this system. See, if it's raining and the enemy is wet or it is standing over a body of water, the electric variant does more damage. The same can be said for the ice variant, as wet enemies get frozen faster. If the enemy is hairy, it's easier to set it on fire. Or if the enemy is standing on top of a frozen body of water, you can use the Fire variant to break that ice underneath their feet causing them to immediately freeze over. And if the enemies are mechanical? Acid is your best friend!
Apart from just the straight-up combat implications, this elemental-based gameplay is also used for some environmental puzzles which I really liked. In a puzzle, for example, you had to freeze the water around a moving platform to well, and stop it from moving. Later you also get some interesting throwables like a grenade that coats everything in a flammable liquid which when hit with Fire lights up an entire area on fire. There are also some other cool gadgets that open up interesting gameplay possibilities.
The movement feels quite nice, the dodge is really satisfying and the gunplay feels incredibly solid. The implementation of the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback on the DualSense takes everything up a notch.
Boss fights are also a thing in Scars Above and I must say that I quite liked squaring off against some pretty massive and disgusting-looking bosses. Each boss fight has some sort of unique mechanic but mostly revolves around you shooting a glowing point with the specific weapon variant for massive damage.
The game also features skill trees that allow you to customize your character's abilities to suit your playstyle, giving you plenty of options for experimentation and exploration.
In the beginning, the game is quite hard in the Normal difficulty mode. Some would even say that it kinda feels like a soullike with guns. I have to say that the first boss I encountered well, kicked my ass a couple of times, so I had to turn the difficulty to Easy. After that, beating him was a walk in the park. But then the game was way too easy, so I moved it to Normal once more. But as soon as you start to unlock new skills, get weapon variants, and find upgrades for said weapons, the game gets even easier.
The storytelling in Scars Above is as good, with a rich and engaging world that feels both familiar and alien at the same time. The game's lore is revealed gradually through environmental storytelling and dialogue with other characters, allowing you to piece together the larger narrative at your own pace. You really feel like you are alone in an alien landscape. But what I liked the most is let's say the approach to everything that your character sees. Since she is a scientist, she scans aliens, constructs, etc., and after giving what feels like some appropriate technical mumbo jumbo, she uses that knowledge to build new weapon variants and other gadgets.
Visually, Scars Above is pretty, with some really cool environments, detailed character models, and stunning special effects that bring the game's world to life. From the alien flora and fauna to the high-tech equipment and ruins of past civilizations, the game's art direction is top-notch and adds to the overall sense of immersion. The soundscape and voice acting are also great, very atmospheric and the characters feel like real people.
What doesn't look great is the janky and stilted character animations during cutscenes. There's no other way to put it, they are bad and each time I had to sit through and watch them, I was taken out of the experience.
Having said all that, Scars Above is still a fantastic new release that delivers a really great gaming experience. With its intriguing combat, engaging storytelling, and stunning visuals, it's a game that's well worth checking out for fans of sci-fi and action games alike. I recommend it. Thanks for reading!
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a promo code provided by PR. Scars Above is out now for Playstation, Xbox and PC.