After many years in the making, Dead Space spiritual successor The Callisto Protocol launched and… wasn’t quite the slam dunk we were hoping for. Our review found it to be “engaging, linear sci-fi survival horror” (opens in new tab), even if pretty stressful, but a bigger issue was that the game launched on Steam with severe stuttering issues for many users (opens in new tab) (now fixed, and which Glen Schofield, CEO of developer Striking Distance Studios, blamed on “freakin error (opens in new tab)“)
Performance stuff aside, there’s also been a common theme among those on the team who’ve played it. I loved Dead Space but the sheer oppressiveness of this sometimes feels a bit much and, while I enjoy a good grisly death animation, the protagonist here really does get ripped apart in horrifically detailed and gory fashion. You couldn’t skip past these and some of them genuinely make you wince. It can reach a point where, as our Fraser said, they start to ruin the overall experience (opens in new tab).
A new patch has streamlined some elements of the game’s combat system, and added the ability to skip the death animations (seriously: some of these things feel like they take minutes). The main in-game tweak is that healing is now faster. Jacob heals by jabbing his neck with a stim and the animation at launch was slow enough that it was hard to heal mid-fight: which was obviously intentional, but clearly the studio felt they’d been a little bit too mean.
In addition to this, weapon-switching is now quicker. So the general vibe is making combat a tiny bit less stressful, suggesting lots of players had been dying and had maybe had enough of seeing Jacob slowly filleted fifty ways afterwards.
The patch notes don’t go into detail but read (opens in new tab): “Look for combat improvements, performance and stability fixes, localization optimizations, and general quality of life changes. We’re listening and grateful for your feedback. More to come”. Striking Distance Studios also promises further PC-specific optimizations are “in the works”.