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Scars Above Review (PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)

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Scars Above Review

At first sight, Scars Above looks a lot like Returnal. In the game, you visit a monolithic structure where you save your progress and respawn, which takes you down Dark Souls’ memory lane. But even with such overwhelming mimicry, Scars Above never reaches these games’ level of success. Perhaps that’s why the reviews so far have been unforgiving. Or, maybe it’s merely that I’m judging Scars Above too harshly for something else other games have done similarly over the years. 

Regardless of the reason, we’ve decided to go into Scars Above unfazed and come out having formed an opinion of our own. This one’s about to get bumpy, so be sure to latch onto anything of support as we dive deep into a full-on Scars Above review.

Lost in Space

Scars Above review

Scars Above is very much a sci-fi rendition of the stars, with dues paid to the likes of Halo and The Callisto Protocol. It’s a third-person shooter featuring protagonist Kate Ward’s grim adventure of enduring a hostile planet. How did she get here? Well, she’s actually one of four scientists who grouped up on a whim to investigate a weird “Metahedron” ship that fell out of the sky. 

This strange-looking alien ship isn’t bothering anyone, at which point I found myself calling out to Kate and the troop to leave it be. Otherwise, everything will just go to hell. They don’t listen to me, of course, and proceed to beckon the ship, which in turn, blasts them out of space and onto an alien planet. 

Kate regains consciousness, confused as to what had happened. She’s separated from her crew, and instantly starts to search for her friends. She soon finds out there’re much bigger forces at play here. Horrible ugly-looking monsters fight her every step of the way. She just can’t hold back the scientists in her, so she takes on the added weight of uncovering the mysteries of the planet itself. 

Sci-Fi, Take Nada

Scars Above

I always enjoy sci-fi adventures. But, Scars Above just doesn’t do it for me. The story is too incredibly familiar. Oh, it gets worse as you dig deeper, with plot twists seeming more like ideas out of a children’s book. The plot never picks up from the premise, and everything else grows monotonous by the hour. Eventually, the reveals lack emotional weight, pretty much like the characters and voice acting.

At least, the premise shows some promise. What secrets does the alien planet hold? What happened to Kate’s friends? These unwavering questions linger on one’s mind for a while, but not long enough to sustain the whole experience, as nothing else that matters pops up afterward. Well, at least the story isn’t the most essential thing to a shooter game. So, maybe the shooting part of the deal holds up its end of the bargain?

Elemental Propensity

Scars Above’s integral gameplay revolves around elemental damage. This is infused into sci-fi guns. So, you won’t be shooting bullets, but electricity, fire, ice, and acid, instead. The aforementioned protagonist, Kate, is a scientist and not a soldier. So she isn’t exactly skilled on the battlefield. Nevertheless, Kate first picks up her 3D-printed Vera while wandering about the planet, a weapon that spits out either elemental power just like you would in any gunplay counterpart.

Save like the Souls Do

Scars Above review

Remember Dark Souls’ bonfire checkpoints? Scars Above are the same, except it uses monoliths instead. It’s a key part of the game because it’s where you respawn if you die, as well as a place to pick up health and ammo reinforcements. Though keep in mind the checkpoint respawns all enemies nearby, too, so you’ll have to assess the value of the risk-reward. 

For games like Bloodborne, such checkpoints played a big part in surviving the experience. You’ll find gamers constantly returning to these checkpoints to heal before going back and trying their luck again. Perhaps this is the effect Scars Above was going for, with the game being marketed as “challenging.” I have to say, though, that Scars Above is nowhere near challenging.

A Taste of What’s to Come


At first, there are three different guns, which you get your hands on rather too quickly. Then the fourth takes a little longer to acquire. There’s the electric gun that zaps enemies at arguably lesser damage output. The fire gun packs up more damage output, essentially exploding on impact. Third is the freeze gun, which is great for crowd control (not that you’d need to for a huge chunk of the game.) 

Switching between elemental powers, depending on an enemy’s weakness and your level of dexterity, is quite fun. Especially when said powers marry with the environment around you to either elevate or derail their impact. Say you come across a body of water you need to cross. You could freeze the water and use fire to fight hypothermia. Or, you could electrocute a group of enemies standing in water, creating an area of effect.

I loved the sort of puzzle effect of combining different elemental powers for maximum impact. Like setting an enemy on fire to take down their armor, then shooting acid at them to burn their flesh. My excitement could have panned out were the enemy’s weak points so clearly visible, easy to hit, and damage-instilling with just a few shots. Then it goes downhill from there as enemies start to feel copy-pasted, moves and features alike.

It’s a Chore

It gets worse when the combat ultimately is as stiff as they come. The shooting doesn’t pack any sort of crunch, or at least, sound design to help sensualize combat. Playing with a mouse and keyboard is clumsy and imprecise. You’ll often miss otherwise accurate shots. The game ends up fighting you at every turn, which is unfortunate, given most of the game is combat-based.

You may craft variations of the four weapons at your disposal. Plus, you do have puzzles like finding power points, and passwords or analyzing objects for clues. But there isn’t any clever tweak to it. It entirely feels like a leaf out of old games.

Short, and Sour

Scars Above is an incredibly short experience, thank God. It’s packed in some five hours or so. Unless you wander away from the mostly linear gameplay, which can be pretty easy to do, considering the game has no map to help retrace your steps. Ultimately, it’s pretty hard to justify the $40 price tag. Or maybe the animation quality speaks to that end?

A Strange, Strange World

Scars Above review

Scars Above looks good. It creates an eerie atmosphere that features horrid monsters with intricate designs. So much so that the monsters scare you a little, promising a challenge unlike any other. Here, sadly, lies the game’s greatest strength, and what feels like an actual polished gameplay element. Straight from the infested bog, you find yourself in the alien nests you find much later that make you queasy, Scars Above nails aesthetic appeal to a tee.


Scars Above

Scars Above is a third-person sci-fi adventure that manages to nail aesthetic appeal above all else that matters. It creates a gorgeous, eerie atmosphere packed to the brim with horrifying moments that easily make you jump out of your skin. Unfortunately, it’s the only highlight this game has, with everything else feeling clumsy, unpolished, and boring. 

The combat, which is the most essential bit of Scars Above, fails to deliver on expectations. It doesn’t present much of a challenge and feels too easy for a game described as “difficult” in marketing details. The storylines are disappointing too, with a familiar premise we’ve seen before and obvious reveals that are far from mind-blowing. 

Even the sound design feels like it was left in the corner to starve. In the end, Scars Above makes you question its price tag. Did I just pay $40 to have a relentlessly boring five hours or so experience? Where’s my refund, please? I’d like my refund, thanks.


Scars Above Review (PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)

A Space Adventure for Sci-Fi Fans

Scars Above is a sci-fi adventure on a hostile planet. The planet reeks of horrific monsters, and its environs are not curated for those who get queasy easily. It’s a third-person shooter, too, so you spend a major part of the game fighting these horrid beasts. Unlike most third-person shooters, Scars Above chooses to weave its gameplay around elemental prowess, focusing on electrical, fire, ice, and acid abilities. Each enemy has varying weaknesses, so it’s up to you to figure out the elemental combos that deal maximum damage on impact. Perhaps the best part of combat is integration with the environment, like electrocuting many enemies standing in water. Such hidden combat sequences add a spice of fun to five or so hours of gameplay. There are game-breaking issues, like clumsy mechanics, underwhelming storylines, and a generally subpar gameplay experience by modern standards. Overall, it’s a game I would tread with caution as far as grabbing an individual copy is concerned.


Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.