Iron Galaxy Studios had their hand in the development of many different titles since its inception way back in 2012. Their portfolio includes helping the development and porting games like Batman: Arkham series, Borderlands, Destiny, Deadpool, Skyrim, Bioshock and plenty more. That's quite the resume but there is surprisingly little in the way of in-house developed original games and Extinction is a way to change that in a big way.
How does it fare on that front? Well, for every step forward the game makes on the way to greatness, it takes two tedious and uninteresting steps back toward mediocrity. How so? Let's break it down.
Extinction is available for purchase on Amazon for $59,99.
The story of Extinction starts off with an animated cutscene where the secondary protagonist, Xandra talks about her childhood as an orphan, having to resort to stealing in order to survive got her sent into a labor camp where she meets Avil, the main protagonist who is also there doing the forced work. She also talks about how humanity has been at war with itself since time immemorial and how on that particular day all of that changed when a giant Ravenii, a member of a giant ogre race descended on their location.
I thought this will be a great place for a tutorial of sorts where Avil evolves from this lowlife grunt into a warrior taking these monstrosities with ease but instead you are somewhat abruptly thrust into the future where Avil is already a fully formed sentinel warrior with equipment fully capable of bringing the Ravenii down. From here on out the story is mainly pushed forward with semi-static portraits of characters conversing about saving the world and only goes back to fully animated upon chapter completion when more flashbacks show how exactly the world and the protagonist became as they are.
I really like these animated cutscenes and their story genuinely intrigued which is a total opposite of how I felt about the static portraits conversing during gameplay. Sure, there are brief flashes of interesting tidbits even there but most of them remain unexplored and you don't feel connected to any of the characters, not even seeing their in-game representation once in the game. Generally, the story feels very disjointed, especially during the first dozen missions and this is exactly the time when it should grab your attention if it wants to keep it until you finish the game. This is mostly due to how the story unfolds with major events from the past being delegated to cutscenes instead of you playing through them in a more linear timeline fashion which would contribute to the already mentioned feeling of gradual progression.
When it comes to what you do in Extinction, it's actually not much. Every stage is a variation on the same theme. Save people by interacting with the crystals that teleport them away, kill smaller enemies, power up your weapon so you can kill the Ravenii. That's it. Now while that might sound like any other action game where all you do is hack and slash at enemies, here, there are certain mechanics that make the repeated content feel worse, but more on that later.
The campaign is split into seven chapters, each with up to 10 missions and each one takes you to increasingly larger maps which are still relatively small and are fenced by invisible walls. Some missions feature pre-made maps, while others are procedurally generated with a randomized set of objectives. There is usually one objective that you are required to do in order to finish the mission and other optional ones that award you bonus medals that you use to level up Avil. Most of them boil down to killing x number of Ravenii as fast as possible. You do this by slicing their head off once the rune energy of your sword is filled up. When you kill one, the energy depletes and you have to fill it up again to kill another one and here we get to the main problem that I feel plagues this game.
First off, all missions feature a city health meter which reminded me of another game that featured a similar mechanic – Superman Returns, much to its detriment. This makes everything in the game feel insanely urgent and there is no room to stop and smell the roses since you'll be racing to kill the Ravenii who immediately upon spawning begin to wreak havoc and destroy buildings left and right. This even makes it so that you don't even have time to kill smaller enemies in the game who attack the brain-dead citizens gathered around teleport crystals as they don't even run to save their life when being attacked.
You'll just approach crystals and activate them without bothering to attack enemies in order to fill your sword energy faster. What's worse is that when you realize that your sword energy is also filled by chopping limbs off the Ravenii making every other gameplay mechanic feel completely redundant unless it's required to "save 16 civilians" or something of the sort. In conclusion, you can attack the Ravenii to kill Ravenii and that's pretty much it.
So is at least killing the giants any fun? Well, yes it is. Movement and combat is definitely something Extinction nails down. While not insanely deep, controlling Avil feels great as he is fast, jumps insanely high, uses his whip to launch himself into the air and his sword attack are broad and feel impactful. Each Ravenii comes equipped with various types of armor that you need to dismantle in order to cut off a limb. If you cut off their leg, they will become stationary and try to hit you unless you also take their hands. Either way, you gotta work fast on getting to that neck since their limbs regenerate every 10-15 seconds, once again, giving you no time to mess about. You get hit once and although you die, you are immediately respawned, the penalty being the fact that the Ravenii, in your brief absence continued rampaging through the city.
As mentioned, Avil has a skill tree and most skills can be improved several times. Since the game can be very difficult when starting out due to time constraints, it's imperative that you invest in upgrading your skill as most of them save time for performing various tasks like killing enemies, traversing the environment or rescuing civilians. Besides the campaign, there are also the extinction and skirmish game modes which are essentially horde mode and randomized scenario which ultimately means more of the same in terms of gameplay.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
I love stylized visuals and when a developer decides to go for a cell shaded type of graphics I'm immediately interested. Such was the case with Extinction as well and rightfully so as the game is beautiful to look at. Even better, it's light on your PC specs and runs smooth as a whistle. Characters are very detailed, and even simple effects, from Avil jumping to swipes of your sword, is rendered in beautiful stylized, almost cartoony graphics that are a joy to look at. Unfortunately, there is just not enough variety in stages and enemies to keep you remotely interested and the problem of the already mentioned gameplay urgency prevents you from taking in what beautiful sights there is most of the time.
What little there is in the way of voice acting is well done but the sound effects often don't quite match the impactfulness of visuals. The music features some orchestral tracks with the main menu theme being the standout and permeating the game in important moments. Rest of it is mostly there just to pump high-intensity tunes when fighting to further contribute to the sense of urgency.
When I began downloading my digital copy of Extinction on Steam and saw that it was only around 4GB download I knew something's not right as I was expecting a much larger AAA game as the marketing and its price would suggest. It took me around 8 hours to beat the game and honestly, I probably enjoyed it more than I should due to the excellent traversal skill, the sheer epicness of combating the Ravenii and the stylized visuals. I only wish that there was more to it as this ultimately feels like it serves as a solid foundation should there ever be a sequel. Right now, everything that's here feels superficial with short bursts of fun that will get old quickly.
+ Great visual style
– Recycled and redundant content
+ Controlling Avil feels great
– Story structure
+ Fighting giant ogres
– Gets repetitive real fast