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Scorn: An Adventure to the Breath-taking World of Bio-Horror

By Cecil Gao
Sep. 21, 2022 updated 06:10

After trying Scorn's latest demo, I was struck by the game’s extremely unique bio-horror art style, high graphic quality and the strong ability to shape the environment in so discomforting a manner. Although the demo only took about 2 hours to complete, its scene design with distorted beauty and immersive sound effects make it just unforgettable. 

First announced on November 12, 2014, Scorn is a bio-horror-style FPS that puts players in the role of a humanoid creature exploring and fighting through a high-tech maze made of flesh and blood, biological organs and insect-like carapace. 

After a failed crowdfunding campaign and several readjustments to the game's content, Scorn will finally be available on October 21 for PC (Steam, Windows Store, GOG) and Xbox Series X/S in 4K and 60 FPS.

Discomforting but stunning art style

In the early stages of the game's development, Ebb Studio considered using the German word Dasein as the name. This word means "being there" or “being in the world”, and just like the word itself, I was completely lost in this wonderful but uncomfortable world while experiencing Scorn. 

The overall color tone is black and dark green, which makes the sticky corridors look very eerie under the white top light. The overall color tone is black and dark green, which makes the sticky corridors look very eerie under the white top light.

In order to highlight the theme of bio-horror, most of the game's scene design uses a symmetrical raised pattern similar to a skeleton or insect shells, reminding me of movies like Alien and Prometheus. Walking in such a maze gives me a strange feeling that the building is breathing and alive at all times. 

The distant buildings that appear at the end of the demo show a different, bizarre religious style. With highly decorated columns and totems, Scorn combines the bio-horror theme with the disturbing religious architecture of an alien civilization to perfection. Players will feel tense, uncomfortable and terrified even without the weird enemies. 

A more puzzle-solving game experience

Unlike the FPS theme that developer Ebb Studio has shown in the past, Scorn's latest demo focuses more on showcasing the game's exciting scene design, oppressive sound effects and some of the puzzle-solving mechanics that had previously appeared in the trailer. 

The player is a humanoid creature with exposed muscles and bonesThe player is a humanoid creature with exposed muscles and bones

In the demo, the player wakes up alone in a world run by biological devices, with nothing at hand and nearly dying. You then have to explore this grand, complex and autonomous maze alone, trying to make sense of it while solving the puzzles that bar your path. 

Although there are no narrative elements in the demo, the puzzles and exploration reveal much about the world you find yourself in. While solving the puzzles, the player can quickly ascertain the role these biological devices served before the maze was abandoned and what this living system originally looked like.

For example, in order to open a door that needs two people, the player must first remove an eggshell containing a humanoid creature similar to him from the conveyor belt and then use the track to transport it to the incubation chamber and use the chainsaw to cut it out of the eggshell. 

The player then needs to guide the creature to have a skeleton-like key embedded into its palm, like the key from the original trailer, and that already adorns the player; the door can finally be opened through their combined effort. 

Although there is no text or lines explaining the plot of the game during the puzzle-solving process, the player will observe through their exploration that the maze is actually a fully automated hatchery for the production of creatures similar to the player, showing, instead of telling the player, why they are here. The way they build the story into the game mechanics, explaining through gameplay rather than narration, is commendable and a refreshing change of pace.