Prime Matter & the quality
In June 2021, Koch Media – now trading under the name Plaion – presented its new games label Prime Matter: Under this brand, they want to “publish varied games that are developed by first-class developer studios around the world.” Incidentally, Deep Silver, the long-standing brand label under which z. B. Dead Island 2 is coming soon, of course. In the meantime, a number of titles have already been released under the Prime Matter umbrella: What they have in common is that they hit the gaming world with relatively little fanfare, and unfortunately the quality of the titles was not always what Plaion had certainly imagined : Dolmen received 68% from us, tester Boris judged: “A rather charming Dark Souls copy that a small team has messed with.” thoughtful – and I found Gungrave GORE so modest that I gave up the test after only two or three hours.Now it wants to do better Scars Above – a mysterious sci-fi shooter developed by the Serbian studio Mad Head Games.
In Scars Above we control the researcher Kate, who was actually traveling in a spaceship to investigate a mysterious alien structure with the meaningful and meaningless name “Metahedron” – but after a crash on a mysterious planet she becomes an unwilling fighter. Not only does she have to deal with the extraterrestrial fauna, she also has to keep an eye out for her missing crew members – and if she finds out about the dark apparitions and the echoes of a lost alien culture along the way – then blows for a moment even a touch of Dead Space or Mass Effect through the room. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have enough meat on the ribs and also takes a lot of time to make the mysterious aspects palatable to me; on top of that Kate is not only visually but also personally a paragon of conservativeness. Together with the appropriate graphics and the qualitatively manageable synchro, this unfortunately results in mediocre on many levels – I was really looking forward to the title and wanted to delve deeper into the universe, but ultimately Scars Above remains too tough and boring in terms of game world and story.
Then stop with violence
The boss “The Construct” dances around on a frozen lake with his steel spider legs. You can imagine the rest…
It’s clear in the first few minutes that Kate isn’t Marcus Fenix: while she can sprint, dodge dash and crouch, her repertoire of movements feels hesitant and ultimately banal – shooting from third-person Sight works fine, but her melee attacks with a blade seem totally weak; there is no cover system for this. After all, she copied the Gears of War faster reload trick and can improve in some areas via a manageable upgrade tree. It also fits that their main weapon is actually a tech tool from the 3D printer – with a few upgrades it becomes a decent sci-fi rifle that emits electric shocks, fiery shots or ice projectiles, among other things. Whenever Kate finds an upgrade for it, the gadget is integrated using a 3D printer – it works on mobile devices and taken out of context, it doesn’t need a workbench in the spaceship hangar or the alienesque ice cave.
That Kate doesn’t come across as a badass shooter hero isn’t a criticism per se – but because her maneuvers, her skills and the shooter ingredients are so staid, this results in a criticism of Scars Above as a sci-fi action game. The precise processing of weak points with electric shots or the ignition of bushes (so that you don’t freeze to death in icy areas) was fun for me, but it only partially covers up the lack of hit feedback from the enemies and from my character itself. Scars Above mitigates the first shortcoming by showing damage values by number, but I’ve overlooked the fact that I take damage myself again and again. Suddenly Kate falls dead because an alien poison was sapping her strength or the frost wind had been ripping through her limbs for several seconds – but I hadn’t noticed that because of all the shooting and the game apparently didn’t understand it, I was informed by a visual signal or pad- Communicate vibration insistently.
Yetis & Swamp Monsters
Again and again Kate finds small purple knowledge cubes that slowly increase her character level, scans creatures and alien technology or sets mysterious machines in motion – but the core of the game is the action inserts. There are weak, nimble standard (spider) enemies , monsters emerging from the ice water, nasty chunks rumbling around and really big bosses. While Kate’s melee slashes are only useful on the mini specimens, she uses her various shots and gadgets sensibly and creatively on the larger calibers. Sometimes you shoot the ice sheet under the feet of the opponents (and let the monster water ice burst with one shot), other creatures have glowing weak points on their backs or can almost only be cracked with one of Kate’s technical helpers: You throw a distraction -Drone into the level that attracts enemies, spreads flammable liquid with a grenade, protects itself with a billowing protective cloak or hurls a shield bubble inside which all enemy movements are drastically slowed down. These gimmicks significantly enhance Scars Above as a shooter and ensure that the shooting, which is not very powerful in itself, gains tactical and playful demands.
What is annoying, however, is that a number of enemies spawn directly behind me and I have to get new ammunition from defeated opponents or plants and containers far too often – this could have been done more elegantly. On the other hand, it is exciting that I can collect a kind of multi-resource that Kate converts into additional energy for the gadgets mentioned, healing injections or fresh ammunition depending on the current need – this ensures that I never run out of shots in the end. In Scars Above I have to regularly save my progress on mysteriously wafting alien stelae: If I do that, my medipacks are refilled and all enemies are revived and I may have to defeat them again on the way to the next mission objective – this brings a touch of Soulslike in the otherwise mostly linear third-person adventure. At the same time, there is no character soul or anything like that that I have to pick up from the place of my last death – I don’t quite understand why they chose this type of storage system. With other shooters like Gears, Control, Binary Domain & Co. it worked quite well in the conventional way, i.e. with auto-saves…