Squaring off against colossal enemies has always been a daunting task in any scenario. Whether it’s David and Goliath or God of War, putting yourself in the shoes of the puny person leaves you feeling helpless. This is, until the underdog manages to take down the gargantuan foe and walk away victorious. We’ve seen it time and time again and Extinction is no different in this regard. At first, the massive ogres that are terrorizing everyone seem like obstacles that no one man should be able to overcome. Unfortunately, this is where the trouble begins for this title as it turns out the ogres are actually as easy to slice up as the trailer depicts.
Because of this, I have to give props to the game’s trailer for showing several of the techniques and maneuvers the player can use to slay the countless ogres they’ll face. While not entirely accurate to gameplay, the trailer has the protagonist slice an ogre’s arm clean off in one swipe before taking his head off with a follow-up strike moments later. Personally, I had imagined there would be more build up to these awesome moments, but instead I found I could just use a single button to cleave off any exposed limbs of my enormous enemies. This feels awesome in the beginning, as it makes the player feel like a complete badass, but quickly becomes tedious and repetitive due to how every ogre reacts the exact same way.
This is possibly one of the biggest problems Extinction faces. While it has some neat ideas and arguably fun gameplay elements, they ultimately fall flat when the player realizes how every fight feels just like the last. As I said, cleaving through giant ogres looks and feels impressive at first, with a super fast and nimble character that makes short work of any obstacles in his way. Utilizing abilities such as a dodge roll, double jump, air dash, and time slow alongside a whip for traversal, our hero should have no trouble getting wherever he needs to be. The only time this doesn’t work very well is when scaling ogres under certain circumstances. It doesn’t matter whether it’s because you got caught on something or the game decided you’re not allowed to run up the ogre, it’s still frustrating to have happen.
With so many ways to get around, it’s fair to hope the combat is as robust. While not immediately obvious, there are actually a number of combo strings players can pull off if they know how. Making use of only two buttons, a series of delays and whether or not a button is held, each combo offers a new way to damage the little baddies found on the map. How to perform these combos isn’t much of a secret, but isn’t made entirely clear through gameplay either. Since the main focus of the game is bringing down the massive ogres, it is difficult to care about the complexities of combat that is only used on smaller enemies. On top of this, there are a few combos that are objectively more useful than others and will end up being used more often to quickly dispatch anyone in your way.
So killing ogres is fun but overly simple and dealing with minions is less fun and too complex for its own good. This sort of backwards trend is exemplified perfectly when looking at how the game handles the campaign mode and how you level up Avil, our hero. On the campaign side, there are a disturbing number of missions that randomly generate an optional objective for you to complete while completing one of the handful of main objectives the game has. To name a few, you may need to kill so many ogres, free a number of civilians or keep some towers safe for an amount of time. The issue with this is that the individual missions don’t do enough to stand out from one another and end up feeling like an endless string of similar quests.
On the flip side, Avil has a surprising number of ways to upgrade him and his ogre-slaying capabilities. The actual process of leveling is extremely simple and easy to understand. Acquire points through certain actions in stages then use points to buy level ups for Avil. There are your typical upgrades like health and increased damage, but there are also options such as how much Avil bounces off certain objects when landing on them. This is where the ‘overly complicated’ comes in, because Avil doesn’t need several of these upgrades and others just have too many levels or cost a tonne. In a game that plops the player into a noticeably small world to hunt down a few ogres at a time before needing to start a new stage, this leveling system feels out of place.
Beyond all else though, Extinction has to offer something to make players want to come back to it. To this end, there are several challenge modes that feature special rules to overcome. There’s the daily challenge, trials, skirmish, and extinction modes outside of the normal story campaign. Each of these modes differ in their own ways, although the core gameplay and its issues are the same throughout. Honestly, I didn’t find much reason to keep playing these modes once I got a high score I was happy with. For some players, being overwhelmed by a ridiculous number of ogres or needing to finesse their way through a fight for style points may be exactly what they’re looking for. I must commend Extinction on its inclusion of multiple modes but have to say there just isn’t anything drawing me to them.
In the end, this title boils down to what you expect from it. If you’re looking for a deep game with interesting characters, beautiful locales and memorable encounters, you’re in trouble. This game is everything 12 year old me wanted out of an action game. Giant enemies, flashy combat, and a character who is objectively ‘cooler’ than everyone else in existence. There is a simple plot that tries desperately to convey drama and urgency while simultaneously being broken up by the level select. Story characters are always heard and never truly seen with over the top dialogue that makes them so much less endearing to listen to. Players can expect to fight in one of a handful of generic and forgettable areas that ultimately only change the pointless background as all levels have to include a city. Finally, due to how generic and samey everything feels, there is no room for any really cool events or fights that stand out from the rest. With everything said and done, Extinction was initially rather satisfying but lost my interest fairly quickly. I doubt I’ll be returning to kill more ogres for quite some time.
Extinction (Reviewed on Xbox One X)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
While not an awful game, this is definitely not something I’m going to be overtly suggesting to my friends. IThe game is made up of a simple kind of fun and not any sort of deep and meaningful systems or mechanics. Topped off with a generic and negligible story, Extinction only manages to keep its head above water due to how fun chopping up ogres can be.