As the gulf widens between independent games developed by tiny, passionate teams and multi-million dollar behemoths cranked out by the AAA machine and its literal armies of developers, I can’t help but feel having us witness the slow death of an important sector of the video game market – the weekend game.
Whether you want to call them “budget,” “AA,” or “bargain” titles, it’s these games that occupy the space between indie and blockbuster, typically developed by mid-size studios and attached to a broad, global publishing label. It’s the sort of game you won’t see on billboards or on Steam, but you might have a friend who’s played it and said it’s an underrated gem, or looked at it on the shelf at your local video game retailer, a creative one Cover artwork that gives him a distinct presence among the dozens of buzzcut brothers with guns or sword-wielding warriors staring into the distance.
Scars Above is one of those games – unique, affordable and concise as it is. While it’s obvious in gaming that the ambition of the Mad Head Games team outweighed its humble production, there’s no denying that Scars Above is the perfect weekend game.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SCARS HERE.
After snagging a copy of the game at launch, I’ve spent the last few nights slogging through the lively 6-8 hour campaign (and collecting lots of easy trophies along the way) and actually having a pretty good time. It has flaws – some shockingly bad animation, awkward writing, and half-baked mechanics do it no favours- but it asks so little of players beyond experimenting with its inventive elemental combat and overcoming its challenging alien encounters that the result is one for the most part mindless and satisfying romp that you can comfortably knock over in a few play sessions.
It won’t break the bank either, at $50-55 as a new release title it barely reaches the starting price of some indie releases and undercuts many of the console mega-hits it shares shelf space with by more than half. To me, that’s a very fair price for a few lazy days of entertainment.
We had Steven cover the game for us here at Press Start, and if his 7/10 rating is any indication, he had about the same experience as me, saying “Scars Above’s exploration gameplay is rewarding, albeit a little mundane, and its characters are mostly forgettable – but an inventive struggle saves it from mediocrity. A decently fun, if not overly groundbreaking, sci-fi action-adventure.”
While Scars Above doesn’t set the world on fire, it’s exactly the kind of B-class romp the video game market desperately needs more of, diversifying the breadth, scope, and scale of experiences on offer. If you’ve got time to kill and a taste for gritty, weird cosmic horror adventures, then this might just be the perfect little title to bang this weekend.
Scars Above is available now for PlayStation, Xbox and PC. You can learn more and buy the game here, or read our guide to surviving against the harsh world and alien enemies.