Extinction Review – Attack of the Titans (PS4)
The second colossus hunting adventure in as many weeks arrives on the PlayStation Store, although the majestic colossi have been replaced with hideous ogres. From the team at Iron Galaxy, mostly known for their port work and post-launch content for Killer Instinct, comes Extinction, a fast-paced action title that has you defend the human race from a marauding army of giant monsters.
The Red Capes Are Coming
There’s a real sense of thought put into Extinction‘s story, which tells the tried-and-true formula of ancient warriors with superhuman abilities defending a collapsing civilization. I was immediately pulled in and started to ask questions about the nature of the world and all the lore that was behind it, but it went downhill almost immediately. As soon as you start the game playing the character of Avil, you’re just tasked to go from city to city to protect the empire of some king. There are a few plot twists and revelations later on in the campaign, which consists of twenty-eight short missions, but all the lore and the world-building of the opening scenes is thrown to the side, and there’s a certain reluctance from the main character to divulge any interesting information about his past for a large portion of the game.
I was left confused by this decision that took rich world-building and substituted it for meaningless dialogue that belongs in the PlayStation 2 era. Thankfully, in this case, most of the story is told through quick dialogue segments before the start of the mission so that it’s out of the way, and you can focus on taking down multiple ogres at a time. Throughout your adventure, you’ll earn skill points to spend on a little over a dozen skills, but only a few of them really matter because the level design and mission design choose to ignore the game’s mechanics. As you run around small settlements taking out infantry ogres—called Jackals—and hunting the Titans, there really isn’t much of a need to use the parkour skills, and there are not many opportunities even if you wanted to do so. This makes most of the skills that are tied into the movement system a little useless until the second half of the game, where you’ll need any advantage you can get.
There are moments of platforming ecstasy when you string together two grappling maneuvers like something out of Attack on Titan or Freedom Wars, but that happens once every other mission. The game never explains the logic behind of what you can and cannot grapple onto, and it seems like you can only use the ability on tree branches and buildings that have a piece of wood sticking out of them. In a world with Assassin’s Creed Origins and Breath of the Wild, it feels archaic not to be able to swing every which way, especially when you need to get to the other side of the map to stop a game over screen.
David vs Goliath
As for the actual combat, Avil feels like an eighty pound man on the moon. It’s all just a little too light on the touch, so much so that it constantly took me a good few seconds to orient myself and slow Avil down to save civilians who were up on small ledges or tucked into the corners of the map. It just doesn’t make sense to harm every part of the play experience in order to make the parkour side of the game a little more fun, but then never actually focus on the platforming. Thankfully, this doesn’t translate over to the combat as the game has a way of anchoring Avil to the ground when fighting Jackals.
While I was tempted to button mash my way to the end, there is a lot of nuance in the timing of the button presses. All the attacks are linked to the square button, but a double tap followed by a brief pause and another hit results in a different move than a simple triple tap. It started to feel a little repetitive by the midway point of the game, but that’s when I purchased the advanced combat maneuvers that turn Extinction into Devil May Cry.
I immediately regretted not purchasing the skill earlier or farming the first few levels to acquire it at the beginning, as the dodge ability coupled with the timing of the square presses brings an entirely new dynamic to the fights with the Jackals. However, as with everything else in Extinction, one step forward means two steps back. The frantic, ticking clock nature of the game as the titanic ogres destroy the city you must protect means that Avil is constantly ripped away from the fun of the combat system to then be forced to take down the Titans who, at the very least, provide a compelling challenge.
Avil must break off pieces of armor to then sever their limbs and eventually climb up their backs and behead them in a gruesome manner. Before you can finish them off, you have to fill your rune energy meter by saving civilians or killing Jackals. What the game doesn’t tell you is that you can replenish your rune energy by striking the armor off of the Titan instead of spending several minutes running around the map looking for civilians to save.
Once you get used to the gameplay loop after the first few missions, different types of Jackals and Titans that sport progressively tougher armor begin to be introduced, but it turns into a bit of a chore after a while. Extinction is just too simple of a game to justify its price tag and didn’t hold my interest for the entirety of the campaign or its side activities—which include time trials, your everyday horde mode, and basic multiplayer functionality. It just seems like a project that is too big, yet too small, for the developers at Iron Galaxy, and the times when it does all click together are few and far in between.
Extinction review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.