Scathe preview — Bags of blood

Scathe preview — Bags of blood

Who doesn’t love a good, bloody first-person shooter? Scathe looks a hell of a lot like the recent Doom games. Obviously, that pun couldn’t possibly be more intended (or basic, honestly). The game comes out in about a month and I got to put some time into it, violently blowing up scores of demons along the way. There are some things about it that put it above what contemporaries with small teams can recreate, but I’m honestly quite confused by its game loop and goals as of now. So grab your poncho and let’s head to the splash zone in the front row to the carnage.

Scathe begins with the main character, who is also named Scathe, getting orders from a thing of some sort. I don’t know. This thing is an entity that wants you to go into Hell or something and kill some other thing that it doesn’t like. You’re probably already in Hell, actually. It’s a demon, maybe. This opening cutscene is all the plot I saw, which is why I’m completely unsure as to what anything is or what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s exactly like when I wake up every day. I’m not joking. You can laugh if you’d like, though. It won’t hurt my feelings, as those died years ago.

The game runs incredibly well for me. It’s very easy to get high framerates, yet Scathe looks quite good. The texture quality and environment design are above what I expected. But, again, it’s basically Doom with a different focus.

The movement and the shooting both feel grand, plus the enemies are varied and keep you on your toes. There are your standard husks that just kind of mill about, plus enemies with different kinds of guns, both grounded and airborne. One enemy is tiny and silently sneaks up on you before exploding. How I loathe them.

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A wave of hatred calls like a flood

As for movement abilities, all I see is a dodge, but you can actually use this to slam into enemies and humorously send them flying. In lieu of checkpoints, you start with 10 lives and can find more while out and about. Scathe emerges in a hub of some sort that leads to three elevators. Each elevator takes you through a maze of levels, which all contain six runes to find. I don’t know what these do and sometimes they’re placed directly above the middle of a river that insta-kills you — no clue how to get those. As you can see, I’m off to a great start.

All of these levels have elevators leading to other levels. But there don’t appear to be any maps. Sometimes I’d get turned around and find myself back on the floor I was just on, as the elevators look the same. Wandering the levels without a map can get confusing. This was a big problem, as some levels require you to kill a certain number of enemies to unlock the elevator. On more than one occasion, I killed them all, got on an elevator and found myself in the previous level. I had to turn around, which required me to fight the enemies again. Hooray.

If you run out of lives, it’s back to the hub. You do keep runes, though. Whatever they do. You’re apparently meant to find three hellstones and make your way to the center of the maze. I still haven’t found a single one of these or made it to the center without running out of lives. Regardless, I’m having fun blasting demons apart, as the machine gun is quick (and infinite) and enemies literally explode when you kill them. I haven’t found other weapons yet, but here’s to hoping.

Scathe is out August 31, so tell all your friends. It’s multiplayer and you probably don’t want to go alone.

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