Welcome to Extinction, a game centered around a world on the brink of destruction.
You play as Avil, the last member of an order that existed to strike back against the Raven’ii, a species of orc that stands a hundred or so feet high. These magical beings have hidden away as mankind has toiled itself with war and have decided to strike and end humans where they stand.
That is the gist of the story, and it certainly is intriguing. The conversation between characters is the main storytelling device, and the voice acting is nothing short of stellar. There’s emotion and urgency, and it doesn’t feel like somebody just wistfully talking; it feels like the actors are engaged and giving it a good deal of effort, and that helps the game shine in the story aspect. If one thing about this game is allowed to be said, that is that it shines beautifully.
Extinction actually looks astounding! Every creature is smooth and lifelike, and the people don’t look out of place in this world. The landscapes are very nicely generated through procedural systems, and the actual architecture of cities ensures the towns feel generally large. Given the fact that your main enemies are towering hulks, nailing the sense of scale is both a necessity and a challenge. If there’s one thing that I wish would be more present, it’d probably be some interior items being thrown out of buildings when they are destroyed by Raven’ii. At the moment, the buildings just fly apart into slightly darker grey bricks, and it just feels slightly out of place. It makes it feel like these buildings don’t have anything in them, which does take a bit of my praise away from the aesthetics.
That being said, the game is still gorgeous, but does it play well? And to that, I have to say maybe. But there’s a good reason to it being a maybe, and that centers around the fact that the preview we were given wasn’t on the Xbox One. We were given a preview build for the PC, and so any performance issues (of which I had none) or configuration issues are all subjective to my machine and ones of similar specs, which definitely exceed the normal Xbox One and Xbox One X specs.
As such, I can’t give a definitive read on what the Xbox version of Extinction will be like, but I can say with certainty that I didn’t experience any issues running it on this particular system. The game ran near flawlessly, the only major issue I encountered was that there isn’t an option for resolution scaling in full screen mode for 1920 x 1080, which is baffling that a game with so much detail-oriented work could miss one of the most common resolutions for gamers to play at! As to all of the graphic settings, I did fiddle with them a bit, and even at the medium settings, the game is still beautiful. It’s not quite Monster Hunter levels of gorgeous, but it still is impressive.
As for gameplay, I couldn’t ever complain about how much fun I had. The fighting is combo based, which means timing out the right button presses, and it harkens back to the combat systems of days past. This isn’t another Arkham combat wannabe, it’s its own thing, and that thing works astoundingly well. The controls respond well with little to no noticeable input lag, and once you get used to using the combo system to fight the smaller enemies, you’ll be juggling and slaying creatures left and right.
As for fighting the Raven’ii, and well, you don’t actually fight them in the way most would anticipate – instead you use Rune Strikes. Rune Strikes require Rune Charge, which is built up by killing Jackals, which in turn allows you to dismember Raven’ii – when you fill the bar to the top, you can initiate a killing blow that severs the head from the neck. The only issue with this system is that you gain Rune Charge by Rune Striking a Raven’ii’s limbs, so you don’t have to actually kill any Jackals to build up charge. That’s more of a balance issue though, and it could be fixed by reducing the amount of charge a strike generates.
There’s one last thing that Extinction offers up with the rest of the content, and that’s the Skill Tree; the main progression system for Avil, who gains SP at the end of each story mission. When you go to spend the SP, you can buy an assortment of abilities, like increasing maximum health, forms of combos, or even the amount of time that a Rune Strike will suspend you in the air, allowing you to action multiples of them, in case there is armor that you need to take off of a limb. You unlock more abilities through the progress of the game, and there were still a few that weren’t unlocked by the end of the 8 chapters which we were given. That in itself has my interest piqued.
All in all, Extinction is slated to take one of the places on my Top 5 games of the year, and that’s a thing that I don’t say lightly, particularly as we are still only in March.
This is a game that has already delivered on a line of quality, and if the devs can keep this quality or improve upon it, it will deserve its place within that list.
It’s definitely one to keep an eye on, and if you’re unsure on whether or not you’d like it, just ask yourself: Does beheading a giant orc, one that dwarfs you by a few orders of magnitude, in one fell swoop as you defend the last vestiges of humanity from doom sound interesting to you? If yes, then this game may just be your calling!