Extinction Review

Available on PS4, Xbox One (tested version) and PC

Extinction does everything possible to be a great game made on a small budget, and to some extent it is a magnificent success. It is a game in which the huge ogres that stomp – the Ravenii – make their way through fantastic villages, while their comparatively small Sentinel, Avil, tried to stop them in their tracks. You do it by breaking their armor piece by piece, cutting their appendages and cutting their heads; a spectacular feat when your enemies are the size of a skyscraper with arms thicker than the local watchtowers. Extinction graphics are not the most detailed or distinctive, but if you want to see the demolished cities and monstrous hooligans fallen in fountains of spilled blood, this is the game for you.

To really play? Well, there you may want to think twice.

Let's rewind and bring things to the basics. Like Avil, you are the last Sentinel standing, charged with defending the kingdom of men against the evil Ravenii and his companions comparatively the size of a pint. At most levels, that means defending a town against silly thugs, rescuing locals from aggressive creatures like orcs holding Y / Triangle while standing near a crystal. The rescue of the people of the city and the killing of the smallest monsters increases your runic power, giving you a chance to the giant Ravenii.

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Approach one, press the left trigger and the action continues in slow motion. Point to a weak spot or armor, and you will see it bright red or surrounded by a flaming red ring. Release the trigger and you will launch into the air and attack your target, breaking it or splitting it in two. Get an ankle and the ogre falls to the ground. Strike an arm and lose the forearm plus everything they are holding. Build the meter on branches filled with full branches of the meter, and it will be equipped for a final blow. Climb the ogre, reach the neck and squeeze the trigger, and you're one blow away from another headless uberthug.

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Only that things are not so simple. The Ravenii are not as stupid as they look and have tied their armor on their weak points. Sometimes, these are only wooden boards that combine with a single crack, but they can also be heavy objects that only work when the attached locks are broken. It can even be totally invulnerable. In some cases, we are talking about padlocks that receive two hits to crush or bracelets or pains attached with four padlocks. It's a lot of hardware items that break before you have a chance to defeat the big guy.

What's worse, there may be two or even three Ravenii at a time, all working to reduce the city to rubble. It is possible that there are watchtowers that must be protected, and losing them will mean losing the level. You may need to find and rescue a certain number of people, or even people from the specific city needed for the wider struggle.

Reaching some of these will mean that Avil will use his formidable platform skills, jumping on the sides of buildings, soaring in the air and using a whip to grab objects or gems in the Ravenii armor. In fact, where the Ravenii have their legs wrapped in sturdier armor, this is your only option to reach their big, ugly heads. Even then, you will often find the head and neck wrapped in armor, needing all kinds of daring slow motion movements from the shoulder, pointing to a padlock and breaking it into pieces.

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Sounds great, does not it? Man versus Panzer-Shrek the size of a Kong in an acrobatic death dance while the bustling cities are crushed much lower? Sadly, reality is not so bright.

To begin with, the cities themselves are boring; Generic settlements where the only signs of life are the people huddled around the crystals, waiting to be rescued. While you are fighting the Ravenii, they are being massacred by the various orc-like creatures, and you simply can not expect to get them all out of the war zone. The extinction is a bit like a game of Warriors / Musou in which you have to solve what happens on the battlefield and prioritize where you are going and who you kill. When you have several ogres on the way to destroy neighborhoods or watchtowers, it's a struggle to simply pack everything.

Then there's the business of killing those ogres. With the first ones, everything is red sauce, and it's great to capture the big brutes. When new types appear, some with the strongest silver armor, others with bone sorcerer plates, it's fun to have a strategy. It is not long, however, before everything becomes a bit monotonous. Seriously, four other locks to be made before I can take a leg. Another padlock on a helmet to be broken? And while you work slowly to put this ogre on his knees, there is another one that goes through the city. All you can do is look down the percentage indicator of the town, keep hitting away and hope for the best.

With the less direct ogres there is also the problem of navigating up your frame, particularly when you depend on a whip that requires a fraction of a second stabbing of the bumper button when the icon appears momentarily. When you do it, the camera suddenly turns to the middle of the grip, and you're trapped in the ogre's armpit, without splintering the armor on his shoulder. Throw the ogre swat and the club spins, where evasion is almost impossible, and extinction can be an exercise in strenuous and frustrating persistence. A generous experience and a progression system help, especially if you choose your updates carefully, but maybe not enough.

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It's hard work and not always so convincing. It says a lot that the main campaign includes some missions with random elements, whereas there is a separate Skirmish mode that is completely random. These missions are almost indiscernible from most missions throughout the rest of the campaign. And although new types of ogre and support monsters mix things up a bit, you rarely feel that the game is going anywhere. The more you play, the more frustrating and less interesting the Extinction becomes.

I might be able to forgive some of this if it were not for two additional faults. First of all, there are no checkpoints. Hit the mission in the last Ravenii and return to point one, no matter how many ogres they killed and city people were saved in advance. Secondly, you continually receive advice and comments from a miserable king and a sarcastic scientist. Not only do you face impossible odds, but you do it while you hear the unconvincing actors spitting an annoying dialogue. A few hours in which I wished that Avil had an emoticon button to swipe their fingers, leave the battlefield and leave behind the ugly and desolate plagues of Extinction ogres.

I do not want to be bad. Sure, the basic idea is a riff in Attack on Titan, but there was potential in the turbo-charged giant action of Extinction. However, if Exctinction leaves me feeling one thing above all else, it is this: the Ravenii are too big and life too short to bother.

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Verdict

Good ideas and a solid execution, but Extinction is a game of great ambition ruined by small problems. All those things that cut the branches and destroy padlocks are too complicated. The controls and the camera are still interposed. Killing the younger guys seems boring and often pointless, while the constant onslaught and lack of checkpoints makes some levels a complete and complete pain. Some will savor the gruesome show and challenge, but Execution manages to turn the giant slaughter into an arduous task.