Scars Above is a low-budget sci-fi romp through an alien world, which draws inspiration from a few other titles. Most notable is the Dark Souls inspiration, which denotes how the story plays out, and how respawning and progress-saving work in this game.
Its visuals are nothing that will shatter the glass ceiling, and the playtime won't keep you occupied for weeks, but this adventure still accomplishes everything it sets out to do with great success. Here's everything you need to know about whether you should drop in yourself.
A story you've seen before, in a style you haven't
Kate Ward is a member of the four-person SCAR (Sentient Contact Assessment and Response) team, and the character you'll follow through this story. After a concerning structure enters Earth’s orbit, the Metahedron, it is down to SCAR to determine its purpose in our infinite galaxy.
Naturally, the team's plans go awry and Kate is split up from her crew on a desolate planet. However, its civilisation displays intelligence beyond Kate’s initial calculations, as she learns more about it as the story progresses.
The story of Scars Above is an ambitious one, and all the colliding elements that have inspired the adventure come together well. Perhaps with AAA resources behind it, this could have been one for the ages, but the unrealised potential does come across all too well.
Despite this though, the mystique and lore behind the mysterious alien world do capture the attention and leave you eager to explore. While you might be disappointed by how much of it you actually experience, the intrigue isn't hampered.
A Glorius Open World that doesn't quite eventuate
To add to the ambition behind this title with indie roots, the world plays as very open, as you'll explore deeper into the unknown. Unfortunately though, while the world seems to be at your fingertips, the progression can't help but feel very linear.
The opening chapter of the story in particular feels great, as you get to grips with the world you've been thrust into. As the game progresses though, samey elements start to appear more and more, which makes intel gathering and fighting through feel far less satisfying.
The respawn pillars work well from a story standpoint and do make the combat feel much more rewarding as you slowly progress. It's a shame that they weren't more utilised, as a way to revisit areas or fast travel in a more meaningful fashion.
Visuals far above its station
A major pro of Scars Above that can't be ignored is its incredible visuals, which begin from the game's outset and continue throughout. This is a low-budget indie game but the graphics and scenery could easily fool you to think otherwise.
The scenery is at its best when you're looking across a new alien world and out into the beyond, and more of this could have gone a long way. While the swaps and marshes you'll be exploring still look fantastic, some more variety early on could have made this a true spectacle.
The visuals do take a turn when you progress from the early game into the late, which does add some crucial diversity to the mix. The icy structures and gloriously Matrix-like endgame arenas look very impressive, and easily on par with much bigger releases in 2023.
End Verdict - Good, Waiting for you to be Great
Scars Above is a game that touches greatness, but unfortunately suffers from some unrealised potential. It's certainly hard to fault the devs at Mad Head for this however, as for an indie game it does a fantastic job of telling the story and keeping you entertained with gameplay and graphics.
Save for these missed opportunities, the new title is certainly worth a pick-up for its modest price tag It will certainly satisfy a sci-fi bug, even if it won't keep you entertained for hours on end, or blow you away entirely.