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The Creepiest Moments In The Callisto Protocol

Horror fans have had a good year when it comes to video games, thanks to treats like "Ghostwire: Tokyo," "The Quarry," and "Evil Dead: The Game." Those lucky gamers also get to close out the year in style with "The Callisto Protocol," a survival-horror action game from Striking Distance Studios that evokes "Dead Space" while establishing its own world. The game brings players to a distant future in which Black Iron Prison inmate Jacob Lee finds himself in a desperate fight for survival after an outbreak turns his fellow prisoners into violent monstrosities.


Seeing as it's co-directed by "Dead Space" co-creator Glen Schofield, it's no surprise that "The Callisto Protocol" manages to evoke the same kind of grotesque and gut-wrenching horror as the former game. From the horrifying creature designs that'll make you shudder to the dingy and tense atmosphere that's unsettling to even walk through, "The Callisto Protocol" puts players right in the middle of a gritty sci-fi horror nightmare — but some moments are definitely more upsetting than others. Here are the creepiest moments in "The Callisto Protocol."

The first encounter

Protagonist Jacob Lee pretty much finds himself in a chaotic tailspin from the second he enters his cell at Black Iron, but things only become worse once he finds the mutating threat slowly consuming his fellow prisoners. As players enter a security tower while trying to free Elias, they're met with a melee tutorial that forces them to learn how to dodge and strike against human opponents. It's not too much longer before they face a much more grotesque enemy. 


From the first moment that players encounter a Grunt-level Biophage, it's obvious these things are no joke. Not only is its immense strength and sheer aggression absolutely terrifying, but it's gross, zombified look immediately makes you want to turn and run. After the first encounter, players might already be left breathless due to how vicious and determined the Grunts are — and it's not too long until you find out they're even deadlier in big numbers. There are certainly more horrific and lethal enemies deeper in Black Iron, but this first Grunt encounter sets the tone for everything going forward and immediately puts players right back on their heels. 

Powerful parasites in action

After escaping the cell area and exploring more of Black Iron, there's a moment when Jacob sees a guard through a window. Then, the guard is suddenly attacked by a leech-looking enemy known as a Parasite. It's a fitting name, since it's actually the thing that can infect people and transform them into killing machines. That's exactly what happens to this guard, who is smothered by this Parasite and becomes something far from human. It's a gut-wrenching sight to see, but the Parasite does much worse later in the game. 


At one point, Dani — one of Jacob's very few allies — gets infected by a Parasite and players are treated to the entire slimy and unnerving process, which only becomes more worrisome when she starts to show signs of infection. 

Players can also see the Parasite's infection process up close and personal if they fail an action prompt when the Parasite jumps out at them. In this instance, the Parasite will latch on as it squirms its way down Jacob's throat, immediately infecting him and causing him to spew blood. It's an absolutely disgusting sequence to watch — and it's wild that an enemy as small as the Parasite can make you squirm in your seat. It's not something players will ever get used to seeing.


A foreboding sign

As Jacob continues his journey through Black Iron looking for an escape route for him and Elias, he eventually comes across a room that'll literally stop in your tracks because of the unexpected horror contained within. By this point, if you've been wondering where all the prison's guards have gone, you'll finally have the awful answer. Jacob is met with the sight of a bunch of the guards strung up and dismembered throughout the room. Even after everything he's seen to this point, Jacob is clearly taken aback.


Perhaps even worse than all the guts and limbs scattered everywhere is the fact that one of them almost looks like they're still alive. It immediately puts a lump in your throat, since the idea of confronting whatever did this isn't pleasant. It's a grim reminder that even the toughest humans in the prison stand no chance against the Biophage. More than anything else, this gruesome scene is a warning that you've got your work cut out for you when it comes to surviving, and that failure will result in the same horrifying fate.

A not-so-sweet surprise

"The Callisto Protocol" wouldn't be a true horror game without some sudden surprises and jump scares to catch you off guard. The Parasites provide that multiple times throughout the game. Just when you think looking in a locker or contraband chest will provide some goodies that'll make surviving this horrific nightmare easier, you suddenly find yourself in a fight for your life as a Parasite suddenly erupts from the container to latch onto your face. 


It's a consistently cruel twist of fate that turns possible fortune into total panic, meaning you can't even be excited about possibly finding supplies in your hunt. It's even worse when you don't expect it; suddenly you're mashing buttons just so that Jacob can rip this thing off and survive. At some points, it can feel like the game is actively preying on a players' need to open these chests, as one room late in contains chest that are all filled with Parasites. How are you supposed to confidently find the game's best weapons when you're too scared to open a single box?

This little trick isn't necessarily the creepiest element to "The Callisto Protocol" — and can even provide some laughs due to how relentlessly gross it is — but these sudden surprises will definitely keep players on their toes. If nothing else, they remind you beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is definitely a horror game.


It shoots out of the ground

Fans of the "Dead Space" games will certainly remember the tentacle escape sequences, in which they would be forced to shoot at a giant tentacle pulling them towards certain death. These moments offered a great jolt of intensity, encouraging quick thinking and really make you wary of walking around any corner. "The Callisto Protocol" has its own version of that in the form of the Bloodworm enemy, a gross-looking organism that sits on the ground and spews a horrifying tentacle to snare Jacob.


Just when you think climbing a ladder or walking through a doorway feels safe, a deafening squeal will split the air, spelling certain doom. Then, before you know it, you're back to mashing buttons to try and rip it off of you. The placement of the Bloodworms also never feels obvious, making their attacks always come as an unsettling surprise. Like the Parasites, these Bloodworms are an enemy and a perfect jump scare rolled into one. Not to mention, their design is absolutely skin-crawling. All in all, the Bloodworm can certainly be ranked high as one of the most upsetting opponents to be found in "The Callisto Protocol." 

SO many deaths

Striking Distance Studios have hyped up about the brutal and gory deaths Jacob can suffer leading up to "The Callisto Protocol," to the point where the game's Season Pass includes new death animations for Jacob. Players who struggle to fend off the Biophage will be met with several gruesome and gory deaths, some of which will literally make your jaw drop. 


From seeing Jacob's head get ripped apart to watching his entire body get shredded into fleshy bits after being knocked into environmental hazards, "The Callisto Protocol" is far from kind when it comes to Jacob's deaths. Even worse is when a Biophage get up close for a kill, since the camera doesn't pull back or shy away from any eye-gouging or limb-ripping that may occur. 

Each enemy type and situation also comes with its own unique death animation, meaning that there are multiple death animations for every section of the game. Death is often a brutal part of gaming, but "The Callisto Protocol" takes it to a whole other level. If knowing that every death is capable of surprising you doesn't creep you out, what will?


Frozen no more

Some of the most memorable scary sections in gaming have come from scenes where players find themselves walking through an area of still statues, only to find that they're enemies hiding in plain sight. For instance, the mannequin sequences from "Condemned: Criminal Origins" and "Little Nightmares 2" instantly come to mind. "The Callisto Protocol" has its own terrifying version of this that players find when they start walking across the cold and unforgiving atmosphere of Callisto. 


On the moon's surface, players will see a lot of frozen corpses scattered about the snow-filled area. They're so fragile that you can shatter them with one melee attack, but why would you? 

Well, there's a catch: Not all of them are as frozen as they seem. Just as you walk past a couple of them, they'll spring to life and start attacking you. It's a perfectly designed scare that makes seeing all the frozen enemies even creepier, because any one of them could suddenly reanimate. You'll find yourself keeping your eyes peeled and tiptoeing past every frozen corpse you see, adding to the game's paranoia-filled atmosphere.

Don't let them get too close

Another enemy type that gamers are used to seeing in survival-horror are exploding enemies. These generally have creepy designs and are pros at somehow sneaking up on you to send your limbs flying. "Dead Space 2" had one of the most memorable exploding enemies of all time: the Crawlers. Their visual and sound design resembled a humanoid infant, and their absolutely vicious introduction in that game is just as haunting today. "The Callisto Protocol" has its own kind of exploding enemy, the aptly named Exploder, which can easily sneak up on you and cause some instant destruction. 


Just when you think things are quiet and peaceful, you suddenly hear an awful noise that preempts the arrival of the Exploder. Then suddenly, you see it crawling towards you with a disgusting pulsating growth on its back. Before you know it, the Exploder has painted the room with Jacob's blood. On its own, the Exploder is just kind of creepy and gross-looking, but when it can hide itself amongst a chaotic crowd, like in the final boss fight against Ferris, it can be a very dangerous enemy. 

Exploding enemies might be common throughout the horror genre, but these Exploders certainly make their own mark. 

The birth of the Blind

About midway through "The Callisto Protocol," players will encounter a new enemy-type called the Blind, an enemy that cannot see but has enhanced hearing and tends to travel in large groups. Think a Clicker from "The Last of Us" and add way more tentacles and savagery. If players can sneak around them successfully and stay quiet, the Blind aren't too tough to dispatch. Players who end up making noise pretty much need to accept that a brutal death is in their immediate future. 


The Blind are really horrifying right from their first encounter, as one is shown to be essentially birthed from a disgusting, fleshy-looking substance. This emergence coupled with the Blind's small tentacles will really get your stomach churning. But nothing compares to when players begin to see more of the Blind falling off the walls in later parts of the game. The Blind might have a clearer weakness when compared to other enemies, but that doesn't mean they should be taken lightly. They can be a brutal and disgusting threat on par with the worst of the worst. 

The Two-Head

Just after taking down a bunch of armored enemies on a tram, it would make since to feel overwhelmed with exhaustion and anxiety. Unfortunately, the game doesn't give you much time to catch your breath, as there's an even deadlier threat approaching in the form of the dreaded Two-Head. 


Two-Head is the first real boss fight of "The Callisto Protocol" and provides a daunting challenge for players that isn't easy to look at, much less fight. Seriously, Two-Head provides some nasty body horror with its very design, which evoking the vibes of the two-headed monster found in John Carpenter's "The Thing." 

Want an even nastier image? About halfway through fighting it, one side of Two-Head will rip the other one off in a painfully gruesome manner and then somehow become even stronger and faster. Two-Head is legitimately terrifying to face just once, but becomes an absolute terror when you seem it more often in the later parts of the game. Equal parts disgusting and intimidating, Two-Head is easily the creepiest enemy in all of "The Callisto Protocol" — but the horror's not over yet.


Discovering the source

After finally getting into the lab area of Black Iron, Jacob and Dani start to get the answers they've been seeking from Dr. Mahler, who reveals where the alien infection first came from. Upon entering a big tent, Jacob discovers a gigantic alien beast with tons of sharp teeth, gross-looking skin, and multiple eyes. Mahler explains that the beast was originally uncovered by miners on Callisto before being killed by security forces. Its larvae were then extracted, leading to the creation of the Biophage that's overtaking Black Iron. 


From the first sight of this thing, you can't help but breathe a sigh of relief that it's dead. The idea of having to fight such a grotesque and huge alien beast seems like no easy task. But then hearing the backstory behind it from Muhler makes the creature's existence even more upsetting. How old is it? How long did it lie dormant in Callisto? And why did its physiology interact with humans in this way? The unanswered questions and Mahler's cruelty are enough to stick with players well after the end of the game. 

The Truth Behind Europa

The tragedy of Europa — the site of another grisly outbreak — is an ongoing and developing storyline throughout "The Callisto Protocol" that generally leads to more questions than answers. However, Jacob finally gets a different perspective on what happened there when he merges his mind with Dani's. With this, he's able to see her perspective on what happened at Europa and it paints a new disturbing picture of Jacob. Before Black Iron, Jacob was just a normal contract freight transporter traversing deep space to deliver packages and cargo to different planets for the UJC. 


However, what Jacob didn't realize was that he was partially responsible for what happened in Europa as he transported the vial that caused the outbreak, which eventually caused Dani's sister to die. Jacob never questioned things, remaining willfully ignorant as he received payments from the UJC. His actions, or rather inaction, led to so many deaths. 

This reveal paints a horrifying picture for someone you've seen as an innocent protagonist throughout the game. It's a gut-wrenching and disturbing turn for Jacob that definitely demotes him from being a hero and gives his backstory an upsetting touch. Playing through the game a second time while knowing this information makes everything feel even more dour.


Ferris' final transformation

Ferris becoming Subject Alpha for Biophage experimentation made sense, given how seemingly compatible he is with the virus. His enhanced strength and speed elevate the already monstrous presence that Ferris had in his human form. However, it becomes clear that he misguidedly believes he can control the virus. Instead, Ferris ultimately succumbs to it in the final boss fight, transforming into a hulking monstrosity with a haunting design.


Ferris' final form definitely has the same kind of gross feel that most of the Biophage have in that it's super fleshy and just instantly gets under your skin. But it also comes with an ugly-looking epidermal shield that protects his face and looks cracked and infected. Even worse is that he can spew some toxic spit that'll gross you out and keep players at a distance. Up to this point, Ferris had already been a challenging combatant, but his final form is one heck of an image to leave players with.