Analysis of Scorn, a relentless and disturbing foray into hell

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Imagine if you had to stick your hands in a sink full of dirty, rotten-smelling water to search for clues to a mystery. You keep coming up with more and more weird and confusing stuff, and you don’t want to put your hand in it again, but what you’ve found so far makes you very curious as to what other secrets might be hiding in there. That’s the best way I can describe the overall experience of playing Scorn., a first-person puzzle game about exploring the ruins of a dead civilization. With a hypnotic and biomechanical aesthetic inspired by works by the likes of HR Giger and Harlan Ellison, it is much more disturbing and disturbing than terrifying. But the vibrations it creates can be very powerful.

The most impressive bone in this shattered skeleton is the macabre art direction, which creates a cohesive world even as each of Scorn’s cores is distinct in its disturbing grandeur. The puzzle’s architecture and strange contraptions exist in a space that isn’t so much a fusion of flesh and machine, but more like someone has mixed the two together until you can’t tell if what you’re looking at is alive or artificial. Alien needles mimic the shapes of bones and viscera, while foreboding tunnels give you the distinct impression of being swallowed.

Since there’s no dialogue or text of any kind to explain why you’re here or what’s happened, you’re forced to look carefully at all of these fascinating and disgusting images to get some kind of clue as to why the world is so messy and mostly deserted. . And, for my part, I think I was able to rebuild it at the end of my short but dense seven and a half hour trip to hell. It’s a world where there are ultimately no definitive answers, but I liked that he trusted me to draw my own conclusions and gave me enough clues to do so.

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Scorn trusted me to draw my own conclusions and gave me enough clues to do so.

The otherworldly, Myst-like contraptions aren’t exactly very difficult puzzles, but some of them are tricky enough that I was quite pleased when I finally figured out how they worked. They all have mechanical parts that fit together and feel a bit like a mechanical engineering exam. Sometimes you have to get several different wheels that can turn together or independently to line up with a central hub. Other times you have to count the rotations of a spinning disk to lock it in place when your view is partially obstructed. Some of the more elaborate ones take up the space of an entire level and have you running around to move traversable platforms with a giant claw arm like a crane.

Scorn stars an equally enigmatic zombie thing who wakes up in the middle of this mess and sets about solving some moderately challenging puzzles with no stated mission other than to keep moving forward. Therefore, what motivated me to continue was curiosity. This nameless homunculus, or whatever, asks me the same question as the expanse around him: Is any of this worth saving? And a scene with no jumps at the beginning seems to suggest that no, it’s not worth it. So I did not develop any sense of self-preservation or hope of salvation. This place and this character probably got what they deserved. He just wanted to see what lay beyond the next ribcage door.

It is constantly and unrelentingly gloomy.

And that reveals another scorn problem, and it is that it is constantly and relentlessly bleak. The best horror games, like Amnesia or Resident Evil, intersperse moments of stress and discomfort with islands of calm, and then very effectively inspire fear by removing them or making you leave them behind. The world of Scorn just doesn’t feature any of that. There are parts that could be called darkly beautiful, but once you get hooked, you’re in for a ride that will never stop trying to shock and unsettle you. This ended up having the opposite effect on me, as I became a little numb to the relentless psychological torment. With nothing to fight for, no sense of serenity to look forward to, and nothing worth stealing, it loses its impact.

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Still I have to clap the singular and clear vision behind every image and sound. In Scorn there is not so much a soundtrack as a subtle and electronic environment that deserves to be experienced with good surround sound headphones with good bass. It’s also impressive how everything you can interact with has moving pieces that fit together, whether it’s one of those colossal puzzles the size of an entire tower, or even your inventory, which is made up of these strange, meaty artifacts. Each shell that goes to one of your weapons has to be loaded by hand, and getting more than one resupply station is another animation in itself. This has helped me feel connected to the world.

The combat itself is appalling. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Unfortunately, the combat itself is awful. And I don’t mean that in a good way. Most enemies have very accurate ranged attacks, your strafing speed is painfully slow, and the only weapons that do a decent amount of damage have very limited ammo. Some of the hit boxes are ridiculous – it feels like you should be able to shoot through the bars of a cage-shaped turntable, but you can’t, which undermines the tactile feel Scorn is trying to create. And both healing items and checkpoints can be very scarce at some points. Luckily, combat is only a major part of one of the five chapters, which is the only reason it didn’t totally ruin my experience.

I don’t think any of this was an accident. On the contrary, it seems thatCombat is meant to be terrifying and we encourage you to avoid it if you can.. But there’s also no real stealth or cover system, so I generally resorted to cheap but tedious strategies, like running around a pillar like a cartoon character and avoiding a hit whenever I could, or trying to run past everyone. enemies and pray not to take too much damage. If you don’t want me to fight them, you have to give me better tools to avoid them. Removing most, if not all, of the enemies from the combat-heavy Act 3 would make Scorn a better experience, as it works against the exploration and puzzle-solving aspects. It probably didn’t need to include combat at all, and especially not like this.

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If Scorn was much longer than it is, I think it would have fallen short. But the fact that it’s a bite through the creepy and surreal makes it memorable and satisfying. The frustrating combat, thankfully, only takes up a fraction of that game time. But the gorgeous, dark art direction and ambient soundtrack permeate everything, as if rancid blood is bringing a grisly corpse back to life. It’s an uncomfortable and sometimes disorienting experience from start to finish. However, I do not regret having immersed myself in it.