SCORN: A GAME H.R. GIGER WOULD BE PROUD OF

The upcoming bizarre horror game that is in front of us, Scorn, has announced it existence way back in 2014. Following this announcement, the game had an unsuccessful Kickstarter, and that seemed like the end of the development of this mysterious title made by Ebb Software studio. However, the developer stood strong and afloat, and continued working on the game (luckily for all of us). Little by little, they crafted their strange world and produced a playable demo in late 2017 and will have the full game ready sometime this year.

The long-awaited Agony crashed with a loud bang onto the market, as much as an indie game can be loud, but landed pretty badly judging by the reviews. Why am I mentioning Agony? Well, it was a game that was about as awaited as Scorn. Both are first-person horror games set in bizarre settings (with Agony being straightforward and set in Hell, which proved to be a pretty boring place; and Scorn being set in an ambiguous organic world which still holds lots of mysteries). Both are made by indie teams. And both are set to release in the same year, which is this one. Agony, like I said, already came out, but got mostly negative reviews. The fans outcry? You guessed it: “Scorn is our only hope.”

Watch the impressive trailer before we continue:

I know, I know – it’s strange to get a trailer as long as four whole minutes, as most developers go for a minute or a minute and a half. But this is Scorn’s strength – it doesn’t make you tired of its mysteries. It is disturbing, silent, bizarre, calm, ugly, beautiful, disgusting, soothing – all at the same time. This is an achievement in itself and something that I greatly appreciate since games nowadays usually get really straightforward to easier market themselves. Not Scorn; Scorn took the hard way, and I love it.

I want to tell you guys that I personally know the team behind this game. Some worked with me, some worked with my old colleagues, and I have been to their studio a few times and we know each other quite well. And no, I will not be biased in this article at all; I call it as I see it, just like the projects that I worked on. Anyway, I will not be giving you knowledge of the game that touches the features which are currently outside of the public eye, but I will give you the journey that this game took over its very long course of development. I can assure you that they work really hard with their limited resources and small team, so we will be getting the best experience their combined skill can muster – and I trust in that skill. They have been developing this game for at least five years now, and I am happy that their second Kickstarter campaign was a great success. People need time, but they will appreciate a good product, and luckily Scorn touched a lot of hearts in its own weird way.

Scorn is a game with no words. None at all. The environment and gameplay serve as the only narrative, which is great when done well. I would call this article “Scorn: A Game Martin Heidegger Would Be Proud Of” rather than Giger, but Giger’s influence can be seen through the visuals more easily, so let’s stick to that. Don’t forget though, that a lot of the influence for the visuals also comes from Zdzisław Beksiński, a Polish artist, who is so easily forgotten when people look at Scorn. I want to express my opinion on why do I think that this is Heidegger’s territory, narratively. Scorn will be comprised of two parts, and the first part is announced to be named “Dasein”. This German word translates into “having a presence” or “existing” or simply “being”. Scorn touches this aspect more than any other, as the nameless protagonist seems to be a waste of skin and organs, someone who has no real personality or background, and who simply “is” in that world. He seemingly doesn’t know who or what he is, nor where he is.

This narrative approach might seem somewhat standard, but the way Scorn’s world is presented, this gets a whole new level of meaning. This organic world isn’t exactly friendly, but at the same time not everything is there to kill you, so the other ‘living’ organisms in this world seemed to be strangely lost just as much as you are. You could label this game as a FPS horror, but I would say that isn’t really what the game is about. Rather, it seems to me that it is an exploration game through and through, with the player exploring both the world and the meaning of it all. This is where Heidegger’s philosophy kicks in. Sadly, that’s too deep for many players, so I’ll let them stick to their shooting.

The demo that came out only confirmed my thoughts, at least for me. The visuals are super impressive and anyone who dismisses this doesn’t really know how the 3D modeling process works, because these environments took some insane skill and dedication. Everything looks alive, and is reacting to the player’s existence (see what I did there?). The ‘gun’ that the player is using is organic as well and the enemies that you meet are hard to properly describe as they are lumps of flesh who exist and move, but they can’t seem to find their purpose – just like the player. They are aggressive because you probably appear threatening to them, or so I have interpreted it.

The only hud that you have is some kind of health bar that will appear once you take damage, just to remind you that you aren’t immortal and can actually quite easily die in. You don’t have a number for your ammo, but you can check your ‘magazine’ for your gun by opening the gun itself to see how many shots you have left. Each gun (we got two in the demo) looks quite different, but they seem to be a fleshy counterpart to a pistol and a shotgun, so mechanically they aren’t that different from your usual shooter. I hope the gameplay won’t lean onto this shooter mechanics too much, as it seems underwhelming and bland, but it all remains to be seen.

You can watch the gameplay trailer here:

Finally, I hope that the developers can pull off their ambition with Scorn, as there are so many pitfalls on this kind of market today. But let us stay hopeful and cheer them on as we await this bold title which will hopefully come in early fall of this year. If you really like what you see, back Ebb Software on Brightlocker. Cheers!