You are alone on an alien planet and everything you see is trying to kill you. You have no weapons, no armor, and basically no hope of survival. You have more questions than answers, and the only way to get those answers is to set out in this new world and try not to die on your way. Would you do it?
In Scars Above, it’s not about “wanting” – you just have to. And while it’s a familiar premise, you’re at a serious disadvantage. You don’t play a power armored grunt with an assault rifle. You are a scientist and researcher with nothing but your wits and the clothes on your back to keep you safe.
But with a bit of luck and a lot of analysis, you may well find yourself building tools and weapons to fend off the advancing aliens and give yourself a chance to unravel the mysteries of this new world – provided you don’t get wiped out by one of the huge the bosses you will then meet. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect when you explore the world of Scars Above.
First (and last) contact
Scars Above sees you play as Dr Kate Ward, a member of the Sentient Contact Assessment and Response team (or SCAR for short), who has been sent to investigate a massive alien structure known as The Metahedron. As soon as Kate and her team get close to the structure, they are suddenly teleported to an alien world and separated from each other.
The Metahedron may have been terrifying to the people who saw it coming, but the alien world Kate finds herself in is home to many more horrors. Grotesque creatures litter the surface, all of whom want Kate dead, and will do anything to make it happen. Expect to be clawed at, jumped on and have toxic bile sprayed in your face from anything that moves on the Metahedron.
Yet it’s also an interesting, strangely beautiful world to explore. Scars Above’s action won’t just take place in dank corridors and slimy structures. There’s a huge variety of biomes to explore, from frozen wastes to wide-open plains, along with creepy underground tunnels and terrifying alien structures. Wherever you’ve landed seems to have been a pretty beautiful world at one point, and as you hunt for an escape, you’ll uncover exactly what happened to turn it into a nightmare.
It’s not just nightmarish to look at either. The world is visually unforgiving, of course – twisted trees tower over you in dark, dank swamps, while brutalist architecture dominates the eerie alien buildings you’ll navigate, but the ever-present and eerie sound design adds to the atmosphere and keeps you immersed in the world even when the action slows down.
From the screams of the aliens to the sound of your footsteps, everything is designed to hook you in and keep you on the edge of your seat. The only comforting sounds you can hear are those made by your ranged weapon, giving you some peace of mind knowing you have something to defend yourself with.
Tools of the trade
As previously mentioned, Kate is not a soldier, so she’s not going to grab a giant machine gun and go at him on everything she sees. But as a scientist, she has an even better set of skills – the ability to research and understand the world around her, and use it to her advantage.
Combat in Scars Above is mostly built around discovering and exploiting elemental weaknesses in your enemies. Kate is a skilled engineer, capable of turning knowledge into tools, meaning that once you figure out how, say, an alien spits bile at you, Kate can build a weapon that spits that same bile back at them.
Poison damage is only one facet of a wide range of deadly elements in the alien world. You’ll be able to harvest electricity to electrocute enemies in water, uncover the secret of cryogenics to instantly freeze and crush aliens, and more. Figuring out which elements combine to create deadly effects will be the key to surviving this world.
And to find this out, you need to spend time researching. This is not a game where killing an enemy a certain number of times gives you more information. Instead, you’ll need to use a scanning tool to learn more about the enemies and fauna of the alien world, and even dig a little deeper to examine how their internal organs work together to keep them ticking. This extra insight can lead to bigger and better tools – which will be especially useful against the biggest and baddest bosses.
Not all tools have a violent intent either. Kate is equipped with all sorts of gadgets, including an AR rig that can reconstruct moments from the past to help her piece together the mysteries of the planet. And when all else fails, you always have the option of trying to get out of a situation. Survival is the top priority – do what you have to.
If the idea of scavenging for supplies from an alien world and researching its life forms to build better weapons for yourself gets your survival instincts going, then Scars Above is the game for you. Just be careful – you never know what secrets you might uncover.
Scars Above is available today on PC, Xbox and PlayStation.