Frustration. Frustration should not be the first word to describe a new game. Unfortunately, Extinction is an extremely frustrating game that does a lot of little things wrong. After ten hours, my time with Extinction is done. Even as a relatively easy platinum trophy, I do not see myself revisiting this game anytime soon or possibly at all.
Extinction is an animated mashup of Attack on Titan and Shadow of the Colossus. Massive ogres, called Ravenii, serve as the main antagonist of the game. You, as Avil, the hero, must stop them before they destroy your city. Grapple and glide, jump and climb and hack and slash around the various locale as you kill the Ravenii and their minions, jackals. Jackal combat had a Devil May Cry feel (different button combos with juggling) but without the payoff. Dead jackals award the same SP no matter how they die. Each level has an Extinction meter, which, if it hits 0%, the level is over. Generally speaking, most levels were done with 35-40% or higher remaining. Only once did I beat a level and had under 5% remaining on the meter. The concept works well enough except for the fact that I just described all 34 levels. There should have been some overall Extinction meter. Perhaps, the lower your overall extinction is, the less people remain which means less to save and harder to build up your rune meter. I never felt the pressure that a word like extinction should convey.
The game draws inspiration from Attack on Titan in that these giant creatures, the Ravenii, are trying to wipe out what remains of your civilization (get it, Extinction!). While there are city walls, one hit from the Ravenii takes them down. They serve more as set pieces that you can climb and jump off while they remain standing for the first few minutes of a level. The Shadow of the Colossus (an absolute marvel of a game) inspiration is quite clear when you take down the various Ravenii. You see, you can only defeat them by decapitation. In order to do that, you must climb said Ravenii, ala Shadow, and strike the killing blow. Climbing is made easier because you are able to separate some of the Ravenii from their limbs, quite forcibly I might add. If you sever a leg, the Ravenii is forced to a sitting position for a limited time. As you progress in the game, this becomes progressively harder as Ravenii are adorned with armor that must be dealt with before the climb and beheading. Just like Shadow of the Colossus, some strategy is required to take down some of the Ravenii. Unlike Shadow though, which had 16 different Colossi, there are only about 6 different types of armored Ravenii over the 34 levels. Did I mention that the Ravenii are massive in size? Guess what? Just like Shadow of the Colossus, the camera will have trouble following you in an armpit or stuck under a Ravenii’s leg.
In order to actually behead one of these behemoths, Avil must fill his rune energy meter. Once filled, well…
You will know when it is filled. In order to fill said meter, Avil can either rescue civilians, kill jackals or destroy armor on the Ravenii. Later in the game, there is an upgrade that ensures you always have at least 25% rune energy but more on that in a bit. I learned as I played that it was better to try to fill that meter before attacking the Ravenii and rescuing civilians seemed to work the best. Some Ravenii do have armor that Avil can destroy with ease and in those cases, I would just take out all the armor and build up the meter. Some Ravenii have indestructible armor so you need to just be able to climb and behead. I did think that the armor variations would pretty unique. You had your basic armor that Avil could just perform a rune strike and break it and then there was armor that Avil had to break the locks holding it in place to destroy. There was also armor that would “turn off” as the Ravenii attacked allowing Avil to destroy. Basically, if the Ravenii tried to stomp you out with his left foot, the armor covering his left leg would be susceptible to destruction. Then there is the armor that can only be broken by the Ravenii itself. Whenever you are on top of one of the giants, they will try to swat you off by “gently” patting itself on the back. 3 of these swats will make the armor on its neck weak enough to break and lets you go for that kill shot. My problem is not that there are not enough types of Ravenii. There will more than enough variance and sometimes the Ravenii even mix and match their outfits to have two types of armor. The problem was that you face the Ravenii every single level. I was at the point where I would just groan when seeing what types I had to face. Interestingly enough, if you restart the level, it will randomize what Ravenii spawn and change-up the armor type (with the exception of the levels that are scripted for the purpose of introducing the types).
Extinction might have an interesting story…if I chose not to skip it all. I lost interest about 7 or 8 levels in when I realized that the levels were relatively the same. Your main objective was to either kill X amounts of Ravenii or save X amount of civilians. Each chapter did end with a “Survive for X Minutes” level. The only difference in chapters were the inclusion of new Ravenii or upgraded (read: more health, hits harder) jackals. I found myself just skipping the talk between Avil and his second in command, Xandra. I just wanted to get back to killing Ravenii.
Speaking of Xandra, she sucks. I understand her purpose is to move the story along but all she did was spout off a random quip whenever you die. Scratch that, you do not actually die. You can fail missions if the requirements are missed or Extinction hits 0%. Avil has unlimited lives so he just dusts himself off when his health is depleted. Anyway, back to Xandra.
WTF man. Who says that?
To help in your quest to protect your people from the Ravenii, Avil is equipped with a number of abilities and talents. Besides the aforementioned sword, you have access to a grapple. I never felt fully comfortable using the grapple at any point. If you hold down R1, you enter a bullet-time like state where you can redirect your direction. Sometimes, Avil seemed to move too fast for you to hit R1 in time. I also found that while R1 would appear on-screen to signify you could grapple, you could not always tell which direction you would basically be flung. You can also scale any building with ease. Canopies serve as trampolines which sent Avil even higher and you had the ability to glide following any jump or fall. The gliding never felt precise and if not in the exact direction, you probably would have to backtrack to try again. As you played and completed levels, you are rewarded with SP which can be spent on talent upgrades. Quick note, SP earn is not lost if you fail a level. Upgrades included increase slowdown when aiming rune strike or increased jump height. There is a health upgrade and I wish I knew how useless it was from the beginning and spent my points elsewhere. If a Ravenii hits you directly, you die. If you max out the health upgrade and a Ravenii hits you directly, you die. Only once did I die from the jackals and that was more because I thought I paused the game and did not and 3 of them beat me down. There is a Wall Run upgrade but I could not tell you how it works since you unlock it…after you beat the game.
The upgrade system is easy to use and just as easy to complete. I had no trouble earning SP to upgrade 3 to 4 perks every level.
Side note, you can pause the game. Anyone who knows me or read my other reviews, this is huge for me. Full on pause, nothing running in the background. A bonus is that you can purchase upgrades in the middle of a level with SP you have been earning.
Extinction is an extremely frustrating game that has some fun, enjoyable moments but not enough to warrant the $60. The gameplay cycle is extremely repetitive and I think this made the game seemed longer than the 10 hours it took to finish. I was checking the mission list constantly to see when how long until I was in the last chapter. The loop also destroyed any prospects of me wanting to play the other modes in this game. I highly recommend buying Extinction for $30. Unfortunately, this is $59.99 game. As satisfying as dismembering giant ogres is, boredom at the lack of variety will sink in and you’ll regret the purchase.
I co-host Nerds Gone Platinum every Tuesday night at 9 at www.youtube.com/ngrradio. Audio version available later in the week. E-mail the show at email@example.com or tweet us at NG_Platinum. I can be found on PSN at Gimpyjayy and emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.