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What The Critics Are Saying About Scars Above

There have been tons of new science fiction survival and RPG games released in the last few years, and a lot of things have to go right for one to really stand out. For the most part, the remasters of old sci fi thriller games have been received favorably by fans, like the high quality "Dead Space" remake. Even without taking sequels, continuations, and remasters into consideration, though, there's still so many to check out — and it doesn't help if a game gets compared to others.

Enter "Scars Above," a game that, on its surface, has everything it needs to stand out from the pack. It was published by Prime Matter, the video game publishing wing of Koch Media that brought gamers "Kingdom Come: Deliverance," and it's being developed by promising studio Mad Head Games, which is also working on an unannounced game for a "famous horror film IP." Compared to the incredibly successful "Returnal" by many, "Scars Above" seemed to offer interesting monster designs, a setting that encouraged adventure rather than horror, and satisfying survival RPG mechanics to make the alien planet more hospitable for the crafty player.

According to initial reviews, there are major and minor flaws in "Scars Above" that span its gameplay and combat, while praise was given to its creative designs and world. According to several reviewers, issues both big and small made the better aspects of the game feel less satisfying — but there was genuine appreciation intermingled with the criticism.

Scars Above is a creative game that's not for everyone

The most commonly praised aspects of "Scars Above" amongst critics was its aesthetic and design choices, particularly with regards to its bosses, the alien planet it takes place on, and the story. Even critics who praised the game more than others found flaws with it, though.

At Dexerto, Sam Smith took a stance that because "Scars Above" is "not a triple-A, big budget, blockbuster of a game," different factors have to be taken into consideration. Smith said that though the game won't be for everyone, it's well designed and crafted for a niche audience. Smith praised the parts of the game inspired by the Souls series, too, and shouted out the puzzles and detective segments.

For TheGamer, Andrew King seemed to agree with Smith by calling "Scars Above" a "double-A" game, praising its "moment to moment gameplay that makes the journey worth taking." King disliked the game's grey world, but said that "it manages to offer roughly the same thrills as a pretty good SyFy Original movie. ... It isn't cutting edge, but it's sharp in its own right."

At GamingBolt, Mike Alexander said "it has something special that sets it apart from its contemporaries," referring to its roots in the "Dark Souls" series and other sci fi survival games from the last few years. Alexander called out the game's glitchy models and animations — something that other critics brought up, too — but ultimately said the game was mostly fun for players to experience if they can get past all that.

Criticism for Scars Above centers on its most unsatisfying elements

For the most part, critics seem to agree that "Scars Above" is not a game-changing science fiction shooter. Beneath the game's creative designs and certain gameplay elements that set it apart, most reviewers — even those who liked the game — had something bad to say about it.

At VGC, Jordan Middler said the horror, creatures, and enemies were some of the few strong points of "Scars Above." Middler lambasted the game's broken animations and performance, but the most damning part of their review was the constant comparisons to "Returnal." In the end, Middler said they "would end sessions with "Scars Above" wanting to play 'Returnal.' Every single time."

For IGN, Axel Bosso said that it "shows a lot of potential" in the shooting, elemental interaction, and creature design departments. However, that potential runs out fast, as Bosso says their arsenal got far too powerful far too quickly, which in turn made the universe feel unthreatening. Bosso said that the environments were beautiful but everything that's supposed to matter "feels weak and underdeveloped, giving you few reasons to stop and smell the alien roses."

At Twinfinite, Cameron Waldrop said that the bosses were the most standout parts of the game, but pointed out that the first and last boss are, essentially, the same. They criticized the lack of variety in "Scars Above," that XP system that makes progression feel like you aren't progressing, and the "useless" elements of combat like melee and a number of skills.