Not much in games makes me unhappy, but the story of co-op blow-em-up Scourge: Outbreak is an odd, slightly worrying one. It started life as The Scourge Project, a now hastily carpet-shoved episodic third person shooter that hit Steam in early 2010 to basically zero fanfare or reaction. That slippery Quinns gave some rather brutal quickfire thoughts back then and everybody moved on with their lives. The developers, in fact, moved on to putting it on console – which they describe rather well here, as well as admitting the failures of the first game. The next step? Take the console version (which reviewed poorly), which was stripped down to fit space requirements, and re-re-port it to PC. Still with me? Now we’re here, with a trailer and a demo, which you can read my thoughts on below.
Surprise! It’s not particularly good. Taking rather liberally from Gears of War and Mass Effect, without any of the bombastic flare of the former or the best-game-series-of-all-time of the latter, it’s rather dull. Guns don’t give good feedback, feeling like pea-shooters as the colossally tanky enemies take shot after shot to the head. Human soldiers are simply dull to fight, but this quickly turns to frustration when the alien beasties show up. My frown rather deepened as even the most basic took two full shotgun blasts to the face as it scuttled past my cover, firing barely visible darts that drained health alarmingly fast.
Each of the four playable characters – my favourite of which is the incredibly named Tasya Semivolkova – has unique abilities charged by a substance called Ambrosia. Sadly, this is drained rather quickly and recharge points are few and far between, making basic run’n’gun 90% of your time. As for the people themselves, their stories are as generic as you’d expect, a court-martial here, a drug addiction there, bad voice acting and poor writing everywhere. I didn’t expect anything particularly better from so original a plot as “gee whiz, this corporation turned out to be evil” but it’s another disappointment on the pile either way.
So where’s the upside? Well, it’s cheap. Four copies will set you back under £18 in the current launch sale. You may be wondering why, with all these complaints, you’d want one copy nevermind more. That basically comes down to everything being fun with friends and some of the issues I’ve experienced would likely be mitigated by a coordinated team effort. For the love of God, play the demo first though and know what you’re putting yourself in for before dropping sweet dolla dolla.