Extinction (PS4) Review

Recently we had the brilliant Shadow of the Colossus, then came along Attack on Titan 2, and now we have a similar game called Extinction. What do all of these titles have in common? They are all based on the protagonist facing off against giant creatures, finding their weak spots and taking them down. From Developers Iron Galaxy, Extinction is about one man and his adventure to take down numerous giant ogres (known as Ravenii) whilst also saving the townsfolk via magic portals before they get slaughtered by smaller enemies.

If that sound’s good to you, be sure to read on to get the full review!

Meet our first Ravenii…

Extinction is an action game with a lot of platforming as you try and zip across the rooftops in a manner that’s nowhere near as smooth as Attack on Titan or Spider-man. The setting is a magical medieval timeline where humanity is currently at war with teleporting ogres known as the Ravenii who seem hell-bent on attacking and destroying all of the cities they can find. Our protagonist is a warrior who just so happens to have magical abilities which allow him to parkour to his heart’s content and climb the giant beasts in order to decapitate them.

The story is held together by mostly static 2D cutscenes as it gives you a glimpse as to what happens between missions, but the gist of it is that you are basically going to be performing about 34 escort missions in a furious and frustrating tower defence style game where you have no towers in order to defend yourself. Unfortunately, the game is very repetitive and grows old pretty fast as you’ll see down below – which is a shame as I love my ‘Titan’-based games and I see a lot of potential in this game, it just feels it has been executed poorly.

If I didn’t ‘have’ to save these guys in order to increase my decapitation meter then I probably wouldn’t bother.

As I mentioned above, you have three main gameplay aspects – Parkour, saving the citizens, and killing the giant Ravenii:

Parkour:
This was one of the biggest let-downs of the game as the controls felt too floaty and unresponsive in my opinion. When you first get control, and you’re in a town, it feels great because you can run up walls, hook-shot onto nearby structures in order to propel yourself further, run like the wind, and practically fly as you jump. Then you realise the flaws. Whilst performing the hook-shot it’s never clear what you can and can’t hook onto – time does slow down whilst you look for a target to hook onto, but if you are mid-battle then you probably won’t find anything. Also, the running, speedy as it may be, makes you floaty and harder to control as you run from point to point doing the same mindless action of…

Saving the citizens:
Extinction is a massive escort mission – you will see a load of citizens who are trying to evacuate due to the giant Ravenii attack. They are all waiting at separate evacuation portals (nobody seems to have given them all a designated meeting point in case of an emergency it seems) which are scattered all over the area you are in. You must get to these points, open the portal and fend off any man-sized goblin-like creatures before they wipe out all the humans. Every time you save someone you will gain more charge in your ‘special meter’. Once your meter is full, you are ready to…

It’s quite satisfying, watching the Ravenii’s head come apart from its body and blood gush all over the place.

Kill the giant Ravenii:
These guys are a pain in the arse and the game is so unbalanced that it made me rage quite a few times. Basically, once they appear, they will begin to make a b-line to the town whilst destroying everything in their path. Nothing has a health bar – one slap off this guy and it’s gone. So, you need to gather enough of your ‘special meter’ by saving the citizens and killing the smaller goblins so that your decapitation skill unlocks. Once it does then its show time! You can just grapple onto the back of the Ravenii, run up it’s back and slick off its head – but doing it that way will usually result in it defending itself and squashing you – plus it’s no fun. So you re best weakening it first.

Ravenii come in two variants, armoured and not armoured. If they have armour on then you must use your slice attack, which slows down time in order for you to aim, and slice off the padlocks holding the armour in place before you can proceed to the next step. Unarmoured and step 2 require you to slice off the Ravenii’s feet! That’s right, aim just above the shin and you can slice their leg clean off which will cause them to fall and either give you some time to save people or give you the opportunity to climb them in order to kill them. The issue here is, not only are the Ravenii magical in that they can teleport in, but they can also regenerate their body parts within a matter of minutes (maybe less), so taking out their feet will only buy you so much time.

Rinse and repeat…

I saw this screen a lot 🙁

That’s pretty much the gist of the game, each mission will be a variant of the above criteria, run around, save enough people or kill enemies to increase the decapitation meter and then slay the Ravenii. Sometimes there can be multiple Ravenii, which is more annoying than challenging, and the Ravenii’s armour will change as you get further into the game. Gold armour is the same as the above, only with more padlocks and weak points to hit, thorn armour hurts you if you don’t hit the weak point, and spiked armour requires you getting the Ravenii to hit himself.

The main thing which annoyed me about the actual gameplay was the emphasis on saving both the city and the people in order to allow me to take out the Ravenii as you have to really juggle your time if you wish to have a chance of succeeding. Our protagonist is immortal – you can die 20+ times in a level by being squashed, sat on, slapped, or even flung to death and you will respawn instantly – so the ‘life bar’ as such is the life of the city. If you neglect taking out the feet of the Ravenii to slow him down and instead go to save people, you will lose. If you just attack the Ravenii then you won’t have enough power to actually kill him, and you will lose. This may not seem difficult, but in later levels with multiple Ravenii at the same time, it’s very easy to lose quite easily as they both smash up the town like it’s a pile of LEGO.

That’s not to say I didn’t have fun, because I did – at first. I would say this is yet another game that’s probably best playing in short bursts as each level will only last you around five minutes at most and if you break up the gameplay then it will help to keep things fresh and non-repetitive. The problem is, once you have done 10-15 of these decapitations, they begin to lose their charm as, other than taking off the armour, they are all the same animations and actions. I also rage quite a few levels due to the unfair nature of sometimes spawning the Ravenii right near your town, which gives you no time to get over there before they take it all out.

There are quite a few things to buy and upgrade as you get more coins.

One of the saving graces though is the skill purchase ability. As you complete each mission, even if you go back and do previous ones, you will obtain coins which you can use to upgrade and purchase new abilities. These help you out and are really worth going back and grinding for in some cases – from new attacks to being able to open the portals for the citizens faster, each one will benefit you in some way. Trying to obtain these gave me motivation for replaying the missions in order to try and help me out in the later ones – so I’m happy it had some kind of progression system in place.

There is an option on the main menu for ‘DLC’ which I thought may have been the ability to buy microtransactions of the coins but taking a look today shows it’s just the season pass – so no microtransactions here.

Squashed, slapped or slaughtered – never mind, I’ll re-spawn immediately.

Extinction also offers three other gameplay modes in order to deliver more content, even if it is more of the above:

Daily Challenge:
Basically what you think it would be – each day you are given a new challenge to complete and you are placed on the worldwide leaderboards. Today’s challenge is to kill 4 Ravenii before your town is destroyed whilst also trying to gain the highest score.

Extinction:
This one is simple, kill as many enemies as you can before you die. The spin in this mode is that respawning has been disabled, so once you die then it’s game over. The funny thing is, in order to get the highest score in this mode, you have to kill 12 Ravenii – without dying – and whilst protecting the town! Yeah, not gonna happen!

Skirmish:
Randomly generated levels for you to play through – you input a seed number and it will generate a level for you to play. The cool thing about this one is that you can give the seed number to your friends or post it online and others can play the same level and try and beat your score.

Graphically the game looks great – it has a cel-shaded feel about it which is more akin to Wind Waker than games like Crackdown. Some may say it looks like last gen or earlier, but it’s the artistic style they have opted for and I feel it suits the game really well. Similarly, the audio is good – the music soundtrack really fits the game with its medieval war music-style and overall combat feel about it.

10 minutes of gameplay:

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Extinction is another game which should be played in short bursts rather than all in one go in my opinion. It has a lot of potential and at times it can be a lot of fun and smooth as you zip through the sky on your way to decapitating a giant Ravenii. However, the game is let down by its inconsistent controls, floaty movement, monotonous gameplay and unfair difficulty spikes. There is a tonne of missions and extra modes which will keep you busy for hours, just don’t expect to see much more than what you do within the first few hours of playing the game, which is unfortunate as I was really looking forward to playing this game when I first heard about it.

There is a season pass with content due soon, so I’m keeping my eye on it as I did have fun playing the game and I am probably going to check it out as well – just don’t go into this game hoping for deep gameplay mechanics. If you treat the game as an arcade-action game with platforming and escort missions then you’re pretty much on the ball with what type of game it is. If those are games you enjoy then pick it up as you’ll most likely love the game.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Extinction

6.8

Final Score

6.8/10

The Good:

  • Looks really bright and clean + runs really well
  • Satisfying take-downs
  • The music is a perfect fit
  • Fun in short bursts
  • Lots of modes and content

The Bad:

  • Can get very monotonous if playing in one go
  • Not much variety in terms of gameplay
  • The story wasn't really the main focus of the game
  • Some battles are unfair due to the placement of the Ravenii
  • The game is basically one big escort mission for both the town and the citizens

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