The Long, Sad Road of Scourge: Outbreak

This Glaswegian's one weird trick...

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.


Top comments

  1. yhancik says:

    Not to be mixed up with Codename: Outbreak, Resident Evil: Outbreak, Alien Outbreak, Outbreak and the DLC map pack Dead Space 2: Outbreak.
  1. Similar says:

    It’s also free for owners of The Scourge Project. A copy of Scourge: Outbreak was added to my Steam library a few days ago, at least.

  2. RedViv says:

    I watched Jim Sterling play through half an hour of it, and wondered the very same things as he: Have I ever seen this before? Is this new? Why are dialogue and plot filled with thousands of words that all mean nothing when you think about them for more than ten seconds?

  3. yhancik says:

    Not to be mixed up with Codename: Outbreak, Resident Evil: Outbreak, Alien Outbreak, Outbreak and the DLC map pack Dead Space 2: Outbreak.

  4. GameCat says:

    This game should be renamed to Space Nord.
    And where’s the ‘staring eyes’ tag?

  5. Anthile says:

    I thought the beard was his mouth at first.

  6. Mr Wibble says:

    I wonder if they were able to fix the bug that caused you to be unable to shoot, or be hurt, yet all foes would still think you’re a threat and unload impotently in your direction. I think I gave up counting after the fifth time it happened.

  7. sonofsanta says:

    unique abilities charged by a substance called Ambrosia

    Seriously? They’re powered by custard? Awesome!

    • SableShrike says:

      “Custard Viking: The Pie-ening” would have been a much better name than this.

  8. KDR_11k says:

    I played through the Scourge Project back in the day. The ambrosia abilities are really too limited to influence gameplay much. What I thought was cool is that the only way to recharge ambrosia was standing near ambrosia barrels… which explode when shot. So this game of all things came up with a reason for people to stand near exploding barrels!

    The ending twist of the story seemed decent enough.

  9. reggiep says:

    The big problem with this, as I see it, is that the game takes itself seriously. They could have gone for a comedic/satirical take on Gears or Mass Effect and made for an enjoyable game even if the mechanics were clunky. Pass.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I dunno, comedy is hard and Matt Hazard showed that parody won’t make this type of game much more interesting.

      Also it had a coop focus which means they probably expected people to replay some parts. Jokes don’t work twice.