Well this is orcward…
Extinction was announced with a bit of a fanfare, completely disappeared, then seemingly launched very quickly. Does this bode well for the game?
From a narrative perspective, the answer has to be “not really”. The plot is paper thin, and involves a huge race of giants, the “Ravenii” teleporting into the world and destroying it because… they are big and angry? Ravenii is also a pretty stupid name, because let’s face it, these creatures are Orcs in all but name, which might also explain why they like to smash things up more.
Whilst there are some 2D cartoon cut-scenes between chapters, the majority of the dialogue and plot is delivered in text overlays at the start of missions, which feel a bit cheap. Even budget games normally add in some 2D artwork and animation here, rather than static cartoon character portraits having a back-and-forth.
Thankfully, the game plays better than the story is told. Hero Avil is light and nimble, and has an impressive array of dash and jump moves that make traversing the maps generally easy. You have a grapple, and occasionally, you can find yourself suddenly flying off backwards or at an angle to your destination, which is frustrating. Combat with the smaller monsters, Jackals, is straightforward, but generally satisfying, with hack-and-slash combos using the X button and various timings. You can also slow time by holding down the LT button and aim a homing strike from a distance. You’ll also spend time rescuing civilians, and you’ll be forced into tense situations where you have to dash back and forth between crystals where they gather, waiting for you to use our powers to activate them and teleport them to safety.
Taking out the monstrous Ravenii should be the most satisfying aspect of the combat, but it can be frustrating. The camera is less than perfect, and it’s too easy to fall off these beasts. Each mission often has very tight timings or requires you to take out the Ravenii quickly to stop them destroying the surrounding town (thus triggering the Game Over screen), and a single fall can be catastrophic to your success.
It’s also exceptionally easy to die, with many hits from the huge ogres resulting in death. There’s little consequence, as the game then has you start from the beginning of the level (but without losing progress), but the time spent traversing the level back to your foe can again be critical to success or failure. It’s a frustrating system, made worse by the fact that most levels involve a level of procedural generation (whether in the Ravenii, the map, the mission or a combination of all or any of these factors). Some Ravenii have locks on their armour, which need to be destroyed before you can slice off a limb, and the ones with locks on the front of their helmet are particularly difficult, as are some of the ‘special’ Ravenii types, that have thorn, bone or other types of armour which require more skill to overcome. Some levels I quickly failed, because the game threw unfair Ravenii types at me, only for me to easily succeed the next time. Other levels I failed because the game drew all of the buildings I needed to defend in one place, so they were more easily destroyed. It feels deeply unfair and hugely frustrating that too many elements of the gameplay rely on a roll of the dice, and the game applies different factors so inconsistently.
- 1 2