All right, let me set the scene for you. Your people are in danger. The enemy’s ground forces are already inside the city, attacking innocent civilians. You’ll have to deal with them and before we can teleport them to safety. Pounding through the city, however, are the big guns, massive creatures that walk through the defences like they were playing cards. If too many people die, no one will trust you enough to save anyone. If too much of the city is destroyed there’ll be nothing left to save. The king already distrusts you, and you’ll need his support if anyone is to weather this onslaught. So you do what you must: save the people, deal with the giant’s armour so that you can lop off its legs and keep it in place, then run up the creature’s massive spine and remove its head with one quick, decisive slice.
To make matters worse, it sounds like it should be great. Extinction is a colourful Attack on Titan kind of game, where the player zips around with a grappling hook type tool to save people and fell monsters that can kill them with an afterthought. Except, the saving people bit amounts to fighting off some booger coloured mobs and holding down a button until it fills, and the giants (Ravenii, as the game calls them) do kill you with an afterthought. I couldn’t tell you the amount of time I had every bit of wind knocked out of my sails because my chosen, enormous prey flinched a certain way and down I went. I understand that the goliaths should be able to swat me down like an annoying fly, but it happens abruptly with no sense of impact at all. Avil (The protagonist) is just dead and this game’s version of Link’s fairy Navi is shouting at me.
It’s all very rude, especially as you spend half your time duelling with the camera. The thing never feels like it goes just where I want it to go, whether I’m running around the map and it’s loose and frantic or when time slows down and it crawls like an after-lunch meeting. Those last bits are especially egregious, as you use them while trying to nail down fine targeting to slice through locks on armour or sever a particularly problematic limb/head. No matter how grand your giant opponents come in Extinction, the camera will remain your greatest foe.
I’ll back up, because it feels like I may have rocketed into this review a bit quickly, sort of like starting a game with little build up and a very light tutorial. When the game starts, it treats us to a cutscene clearly going for a hand-drawn look, but it’s pretty ugly, to be honest. I tried to find some merit there, but it didn’t look good at all and I didn’t care about any of it. The characters seemed to insist I care about them by deign of them being the ones telling the story, but no. These cutscenes just were not for me. Luckily, the action following this seemed to have nothing to do with it, other than the storyteller still prattling on, on now a bit older. It seems she’s dispersed the ever important big blue teleport rocks throughout the city, so it’s up to Avil to go hold a button in front of them.
You see, rescuing folk and fighting the smaller enemies build up your sword’s power. Without a fully powered sword, you won’t be able to decapitate the big monsters. Combat is all on one button with combos coming from pressing said button repeatedly, sometimes even holding it to change things up. It’s not fun, it’s never fun. You’ll find a combo you like that doesn’t throw your character a mile away from where the fighting is and spam it throughout the whole game.
There’s not much story to speak of either. There are big monsters, come to destroy cities. You, being the last fellow able to slay them, go about doing that. For some reason, there is a king that doesn’t seem to trust you despite your continued giant toppling endeavours. In fact, the story is so barebones that many levels have randomized objectives and no one bats an eye. You would think that a game’s story and gameplay should be linked somehow, but Extinction not only disagrees, it seems proud to defy aspects of good storytelling right before your eyes.
The graphics are fair at best; everything is bright and colourful, but nothing looks interesting at all. All the giants end up running together despite their varying armour sets and skin tones. The music is equally forgettable, though this is possibly because characters seem intent to constantly tell you to charge up your sword and not let people die.
The terrible thing is that, on paper, Extinction sounds great. It’s a fun concept, even if it’s highly reminiscent of certain popular Japanese cartoons. Even worse, though, is that I genuinely like most of the stuff that Iron Galaxy has put out in the past. I just hope that this dramatic misstep won’t keep them from releasing the calibre of games that they have in the past.