If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Scars Above is a sci-fi space shooter with big Returnal energy

A challenging sci-fi third-person action adventure shooter, you say?

When I first played PlayStation exclusive Returnal last year, I didn't think it would be my jam. I've never been one for bullet hell shooters, and especially not super difficult ones that also double up as roguelikes. Turns out, it absolutely was my jam, and I think Scars Above, the new third-person sci-fi action shooter from Mad Head Games that was revealed tonight at Gamescom Opening Night Live, will be, too. Let's have a watch of the reveal trailer, shall we?

Oh yes, that's the good stuff. Weird alien artifacts hovering in outer space? Check. A lone female astronaut stranded on a rocky alien planet with strange glowing monoliths? Check and check. Big horrible beasties out to get her? Check check check. Please and thank you.

Admittedly, it's not quite clear yet what form Scars Above will actually take just yet. It could be a more traditional linear shooter for all we know, or it might lean into that Returnal vibe by going more roguelike-y. Its Steam page mentions a "carefully crafted" adventure that takes you through various different biomes such as icy wastelands, underground caves and alien facilities, implying something of the former, but it also talks about a rewarding sense of difficulty, which is what puts me in the mind of Returnal. I suspect it probably won't fall into Housemarque's style of roguelike, though, and personally I'm still well up for that. Returnal's later stages were too gosh darn hard, you know?

In any case, you play as Dr Kate Ward, who is first and foremost an astronaut and scientist, the Steam blurb is keen to point out - not a soldier - but you soon find yourself alone on an alien planet after an expedition to investigate the enormous, ominous Metahedron structure hanging above Earth's atmosphere goes awry. As you fight to find your fellow crew mates and get to the bottom of your current predicament, you'll be using all manner of weapons, melee attacks and elemental tricks to take down the planet's vicious local wildlife. The Steam page also mentions crafting different gadgets and items to help you fight against its "countless threats", as well as doing classic science-y things like scanning objects and your surroundings to catalogue and research this new world you're in.

All things that I'm very excited about doing when the game eventually comes out in early 2023, and I'm excited to find out more in the months to come.

For more Gamescom coverage, be sure to check out our Gamescom 2022 hub for all the latest news, impressions from the show floor and more.

Rock Paper Shotgun is the home of PC gaming

Sign in and join us on our journey to discover strange and compelling PC games.

In this article
Follow a topic and we'll email you when we write an article about it.

Scars Above

Video Game

Related topics
About the Author
Katharine Castle avatar

Katharine Castle


Katharine is RPS' editor-in-chief, which means she's now to blame for all this. After joining the team in 2017, she spent four years in the RPS hardware mines. Now she leads the RPS editorial team and plays pretty much anything she can get her hands on. She's very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests, but also loves strategy and turn-based tactics games and will never say no to a good Metroidvania.