Extinction Review - A Colossal Disappointment
Battling gigantic ogres is a lot of fun, but Extinction is plagued by poor design, unbalanced combat mechanics, and obnoxious bugs that make it frustrating to play.
Extinction has the player take control of Avil, the last person who can deal with the infestation of enormous ogres known as the Ravenii. His good friend, Xandra, is an incredibly talented engineer and inventor. She is the smith of Avil’s weaponry and builds portals for civilians to escape through. These portals are constantly under attack by demonic creatures known as Jackals. The player’s objective is to protect the civilians and end the war against the Ravenii.
Extinction poorly fleshes out the plot points and characters of its campaign. At the beginning and end of each mission, the player gets a minute of dialogue between characters. However, there are no in-game cutscenes, and almost all story bits are shown through walls of text during the game. This is common in lesser known indie titles, but rarely is such negligent exposition seen in something as expensive as Extinction.
The player will occasionally witness an animated cutscene; however, these are not only rare, but they look significantly worse than the average anime or cartoon. Some games have animated cutscenes that don’t look good, but this is because they show up very often in place of in-game ones.
There’s no excuse for Extinction’s animation to look so poor, as the cutscenes are incredibly rare. What’s even more unfortunate is that the cinematic trailer that premiered at E3 2017 is misleading. It showed gorgeous graphics through an epic cutscene, unlike anything displayed in-game.
The text-walls delve a lot into the relationship between Xandra and Avil, or the war against the Ravenii. With Xandra and Avil, it’s written in a way that implies we already know a lot about the characters. It’s as if they’re in the last stages of a television series, showing us the final moments of the two characters. However, because the player doesn’t know much about either of them, all of their dialogue feels detached.
With the war against the Ravenii, every bit of dialogue between Avil and Yarrow—the king of the city under attack—is an alternative of “we’re losing this war to the Ravenii” or “Avil! You need to win this war.” It’s unoriginal, bland, and the player just wants to get into the game. Thankfully, there is the option to skip dialogue.
Boring and Repetitive Combat
When it comes to combo-heavy games, there’s typically some variety to keep the player engaged. Whether it be light, medium, and heavy attacks or a number of different abilities to make the game more flashy, there should be a plethora of different things to do.
When it comes to Extinction, there’s only one normal attack. The player can press the attack button at different times to make Avil do different things, but there are only a few combo varieties, leading to repetitive gameplay.
It’s difficult to stay engaged when there are so few combat mechanics. To make matters worse, once the player learns how well the Rune Strike works against Jackals, it’s hard to stop using the ability. The Rune Strike is meant to be a weapon the player uses against Ravenii whenever they invade and it’s the only way to cut off their gigantic heads.
This may be what the Rune Strike is meant for, but using it on ordinary Jackals is incredibly effective. The lowest form of Jackal might take 10 normal hits to defeat, but one rune strike will kill it instantly. It got to the point where I hadn’t used the normal attack button for a number of missions, rendering it useless.
Unfortunately, the Rune Strike still isn’t fun to use. It’s as repetitive as attacking normally, but it gets the job done quicker. Extinction is heavily reliant on finishing objectives as fast as possible. When it comes to Ravenii invasions, Avil needs to be in many places at once, so killing smaller enemies as fast as possible is a necessity. Even if I wanted to lay back and pull the same combo on Jackals over and over again, it would probably end in a failed mission.
In Extinction, Ravenii are genuinely threatening. Perhaps not at first, but once the player gets to a certain point, taking one down requires a lot of strategy.
Ravenii have four limbs that Avil can remove. However, they’re usually protected by different types of armor. Some require a single hit to break while others are heavily padded with two or four locks. When the player has to defend the city, there’s nothing more threatening than a Ravenii with heavy armor. This creates an exciting dynamic, seemingly providing a threat to the city around you, but this excitement is merely an illusion.
Death in Extinction’s campaign means nothing, as Avil respawns almost instantly. The point being that the condition of the city is the health bar, but it’s way too easy to defend. After a while, the player will realize that even though the Ravenii are tough to fight, they’re difficult to lose against. Thankfully, the Extinction gamemode fixes this, giving Avil only one life.
There is only one type of mission that’s genuinely difficult, and that’s when Avil has to defend watchtowers. This mission is tough because the Ravenii have very few targets, making it easy to fail the mission. Even then, the game can be slightly unfair at times, like when it spawns a Ravenii right next to the final watchtower.
Even when the player starts to have fun with Extinction, awful bugs suddenly appear. Climbing up a Ravenii is terribly designed, as they’re constantly moving around, making it easy to get stuck between their body parts.
When this happens, the player’s camera will clip through the Ravenii’s body, making it impossible to see. Not only that, but Avil has a tendency to get killed by nothing. After dodging a Ravenii’s attack, the player will take incredible damage or flat out die from a lack of vision. This is especially annoying because there’s no proper ragdoll for the character, so there's no way to visually gauge what’s happening.
When I first launched the game, there was an awful color bug which made the screen flash green rapidly. There should be an in-game seizure warning, as this could be dangerous. Here’s what Iron Galaxy told the media to do in order to fix this problem:
“Right click on your desktop, click NVIDIA CONTROL PANEL, Change resolution, Scroll down and check the last box ‘NVIDIA COLOR SETTINGS’ and make sure the color is set to 32-bit. Click on apply and check if it works.”
Running around, climbing, and dashing is quite satisfying. It doesn’t feel sluggish and Avil can jump quite high, making it easy to get through the levels. You can also grapple onto branches and certain objects to make Avil fly into the air.
Additionally, the player can jump on trees to get launched a bit. However, there are way too many trees located in the game. When you’re trying to fight off Jackals, Rune Strikes will thrust you into the air accidentally if you even come close to a tree. These tree jumps combo into more tree jumps, so Avil can get a bit stuck sometimes.
There is a skill tree in Extinction, but it’s uninspired. Half of the tree is taken up by skills Avil starts with, and the other half is mostly pointless additions. The only two useful things in this tree are Meditation, which makes killing the Ravenii much quicker, and Hasty Portals, which makes rescuing civilians easier.
Things like Lightfoot, which allows you to bounce 10% higher off trees, and Rune Energy Overflow, which increases how much damage you do when Rune Energy is full, are incredibly useless. Bouncing off trees a little higher isn’t worth purchasing, and increasing how much damage the player does in the context of a broken battle system doesn’t help.
When the player fully upgrades Hasty Portals, the game becomes even easier. This creates the opportunity to completely bypass enemies and rescue civilians so quickly that it’s not even necessary to fight Jackals.
There are a few gamemodes outside of the campaign. The Extinction game mode has the player go up against an endless wave of enemies, and if Avil dies, he won’t respawn. Additionally, there’s Skirmish, which puts players in a randomly generated battleground. Finally, there’s the Daily Challenge, which wasn't updated, as the game wasn't out yet.
These game modes are more fun than the campaign, but a player who hasn’t completed the story will not understand what’s going on. There are certain enemies that can only be defeated in specific ways, and without knowing how, the player will be stuck.
For example, there’s a Ravenii that has skulls attached to his armor. The only way to defeat this Ravenii is to have him attack with the limb the player intends to destroy. If Avil wants to access his neck, the Ravenii has to attack his own neck first. This can be incredibly confusing without a proper tutorial, and there’s nothing of the sort in the main menu. It’s probably best if players complete the campaign before doing any of the extra game modes or else it could be confusing.
Extinction is a poorly constructed game that occasionally shines with its threatening Ravenii. If it were evenly balanced, less buggy, and more compelling in its writing, it definitely could’ve been something special. For a game that only takes five hours to beat, it’s overpriced and underwhelming.
|Satisfying Movement Abilities||Boring and Repetitive Combat|
|Threatening Ravenii||Dull Campaign|
|Fun Gamemodes||Many Bugs|