Extinction takes place in yet another world where your character seems to be the only guy with any clue to what’s going on. Set forth to destroy the Ravenii and save your people from Extinction! So far, same old, but what’s this? The Ravenii are 150-foot tall orcs? This is about to get interesting…
You play as Avil, the last Sentinel and the only one trained to stop the aforementioned massive Ravenii. To do so you have to save civilians, kill monsters and dismember the Ravenii so you can build up your Rune Meter. Once this is full and any armour around the Ravenii’s neck is destroyed, you can go in for a kill strike. This allows you to behead the Ravenii, permanently stopping its rampage (its head is the only thing which can’t regrow) and allow a bit of respite. That is, until the next one appears and you have to do the same thing again. This is the basic premise of most of your missions. While it is generally fun and rewarding, especially when you smoothly dispatch a Ravenii, it can quickly become a game of micro-management.
You see, being the last Sentinel has its fair share of perks – undivided attention, a kick-ass sword etc. but it also has its share of responsibilities. And by that I mean, everything. You have to protect the villagers, the city, watchtowers, defeat Jackals (the smaller enemies) and of course, exterminate the Ravenii. This doesn’t leave you a lot of breathing room, especially as the villagers have no way to defend themselves. So, instead of trying to find the most expressive way to dispatch your enemies and traverse the environment, you have to scramble to try and keep everything just about alive. Some levels have you focus on certain gameplay elements such as traversal or villagers, and these are by far my favourite levels. They allow you to focus on and appreciate each gameplay element individually, which is definitely the way to go.
One particular gameplay element which can be great is traversal. The game is fluid. You can run up walls and Ravenii, use grappling hooks, jump off trees and just basically make the environment your own. I’ve had some great moments in the game, where I’ve managed to line up the grappling hook just right (you can slow down time to help) and spring from tree to building to enemy, chaining up combos and raking up my Rune Strike.
Other times, I’ve spent a good couple of minutes desperately trying to hit a lock to open up some armour, instead just falling short and going nowhere. I wouldn’t call the movement unfair; it just takes a lot of getting used to and isn’t as precise as it may need to be. I’m not sure if a first-person mode would help to line up shots. I’ve been using a controller, which helps for the general movement but it does make these fiddlier areas difficult, so try both ways out and see what works for you.
Overall, the combat is probably the weakest part of the game. While you can get some interesting combos, the limited toolset and even more limiting Kill Strike meter make for some very copy-and-paste battles. I would have liked a bow and arrow to take out weaker monsters or distract the Ravenii at the very least, and maybe some magic to change up the battle or even just a larger blade. I lost count how many times I couldn’t actually hit the Ravenii because I was too far away and couldn’t grapple. Of course, I could run up the giant orc but that presents its own problems, and I would have enjoyed being able to make my own way up. You might be thinking, ‘Why doesn’t he just break the orc’s leg?’. Well, the Ravenii have armour.
This armour ranges from Wood (the most breakable, and in my opinion the best), to Bone. Bone is almost unbreakable, except for when the Ravenii attacks you, exposing a weak point. While this can be dealt with, there is a metal armour type which is unbreakable. This automatically stops one, two or maybe even three limbs from being able to be taken down, allowing the Ravenii to keep destroying the kingdom and making Avil struggle to gain Rune energy. This armour type is a pain.
An unexpected surprise for this game is the story. Due to the dungeons being mostly procedurally generated, I thought the story would be bare bones: just enough to justify the world’s existence but nothing more. And sure, sometimes it is like that – if I have to hear the king say that we must do more to save the villagers one more time, I may accidentally forget to dismember the Ravenii heading towards him. However, at other times, it suddenly gets a lot more personal, especially in the little cutscenes which dot the campaign. These are surprisingly well animated, with obvious care taken to create the world. The voice acting is also well done, with actual emotions and everything!
The same can be said about the graphics overall: Colourful, vivid and fluid animations. It also ran surprisingly well. I used a 750 ti, which is below recommended settings (as was my CPU), and the game still auto-detected me for high graphics. I upped it to Ultra to see if there were any major differences and while there was a change in graphics, with the blood being richer in colour, there was little change in framerate. It stayed steady at around 40fps for both presets, which was fine for me, although I’m never too fussed. The game does require fluidity, however, so if you feel the game stutter at all, just turn the graphics down to gain that FPS.
I recommend turning the graphics down due to the game’s distinctive anime style still keeping its charm even in the lower settings. Now, you might think this makes the game to close to Attack on Titan. And, I’ll be honest, it is similar. Both contain hulking behemoths you have to behead to stop. Both have an overarching air of hopelessness, with humanity teetering on the edge. Both contain grappling hooks and the aforementioned art style. However, the world building and characters are very different. Extinction is much more traditional fantasy and one character against the world, instead of the world being slowly defeated by a more powerful force.
Outside of the campaign, there are three major game modes: Daily Challenge, Skirmish and Extinction. Daily Challenge is what it says on the tin – get given a challenge and try and get the highest score possible without dying to progress up the leaderboard. The twist is that you can only attempt this game mode once a day. Extinction has the same one life policy but charges you with simply surviving as long as, and killing as much as possible. Finally, Skirmish creates a procedurally generated map and objectives and asks you to complete them. It then gives you a seed, which you can share with friends or type in yourself to replay that same map, allowing for tournaments and bragging rights galore if you win.
Overall, I would call Extinction the game of hit and misses. In the game world, you may hit the Ravenii, successfully bringing it down and saving the townspeople or you may miss and everyone dies. The gameplay elements are like this too – more often than not they work and everything’s great; at other times, they don’t work and it all comes tumbling down.
A PC review copy of Extinction was provided by Modus Games for the purpose of this review