Exctinction does precisely one thing very well. Over and over again. The Finger Guns Review.
I’ve been excited to get my hands on Extinction ever since the original reveal way back in the golden age of 2017. We’ve covered the game rather extensively here at FNGR GNS, with the colossal ogres known as the Ravenii giving me the impression that they’re going to be a whole lot of fun to take down from each poster and trailer that was revealed. It had my curiosity, and now I’ve had a couple weeks to get my head around it all, does it have my attention? Well, yes. And no. I’ll explain.
It’s difficult to look at Extinction from the outset as something that isn’t immediately inspired by the likes of Shadow of the Colossus. With each level more or less treading the familiar path of ‘every level is a boss level’, Extinction obviously promotes itself as a titan-killing epic but thankfully, does a whole lot more with the formula, enabling it to stand on its own.
Have a look at early level segments, including me failing miserably and then it all suddenly clicking into place. Kinda;
The missions in Extinction don’t vary all that much, especially in early levels. Your protagonist is known as Avil, the only warrior with the skills and gear needed to save a city that unfortunately appears to be taking the brunt of the endless Ravenii assault. The story goes is that the world as we know it has already succumbed to the Ravenii, and Avil is merely trying to salvage what remains. It’s not exactly the jolliest of narratives, and there is some rather cringey voice acting that failed to grab my attention. As the story goes, it’s all a bit weak and you’re struggling to really know what you’re fighting for when the war is already over. Guess the clue is in the title.
Extinction is beautiful. The levels are bright, full of colour and has a slight issue in the fact that it’s being overrun by enormous ogres and their minions who have this rather annoying habit of murdering the local villagers. It’s up to you to stop them and their Ravenii overlords (ogrelords?) before they ultimately destroy your city. Each mission tasks you with protecting the city from a wave of demonic minions whilst trying to save the locals and the buildings they are protecting, oh and they’re a percentage bar that’s ticking down at all times as well, representing the level of stability within that city. Saving civilians and stopping the enormous ogres from destroying buildings will keep it stable. Once it reaches zero though, it’s all over and you’ll have to start that level again.
It sounds like a buggering lot of work for a single man to take on, fortunately Avil is tough as balls and has the wherewithal to parkour his way around the city and show off the games terrific combat mechanics to make sure he’s not even breaking a sweat. There’s a good variety of different attacks you can use on the smaller demons, without having to resort to button mashing your way through them. If anything, it’s discouraged as it’ll just take longer to take down your enemy and time is something you do not have on your side in Extinction. It feels solid and whilst it did take me a little while to notice the difference between mindlessly pressing Square actually being a little more coordinated (as the video above demonstrates), once it clicks it becomes second nature and you’ll wonder how on earth you got through those early levels without it.
The agility of Avil comes in enormously handy when it comes to saving time. As you can see he can run up the sides of certain buildings – but not all of them, which is a bit odd – and is able to traverse across the tops of trees and roofs at a swift pace, which allows you to save the civilians on the ground and at the top of a building with little time wasted. The hysterically brilliant whip (essentially a Grapple Hook) – a gadget which hasn’t been utilised this much since the likes of Just Cause 3 and to its credit, is embedded in the gameplay of Extinction far better than it ever was there – is your most important addition to your arsenal, and you’re going to want to keep an eye on button prompts that appear when a whipping opportunity is nearby (steady). I got into a rhythm of knowing I probably wasn’t going to finish any mission the first time around, so I used the time to get to know the levels, how many civilians I had to save and the best way to traverse and save them all as quick as I possibly could. Time is always against you so you need to make sure you know levels backwards.
The levels themselves are designed very well, with subtle distinctions between them all even if they all share a rather similar style. Tearing it around a city saving people and taking on the minion army and choosing particular orders in what to focus on primarily in each level keeps the brain ticking over at all times, and when you see opportunities for cool moments such as accelerating up the side of a building to jump off, grapple a tree, save some people on the top of a building, jump backwards off a building to slash your way up to gain the little bit of extra height to be ready for an ogre attack, it’s then you realise the combat mechanics in Extinction have been thought out and tightened to the nth degree and can only be considered a terrific achievement. Once you’re a master of these levels, taking down the ogres is nothing more than immensely satisfying.
Then there’s taking down those bastard ogres, and this is where the final correlation of Shadow of the Colossus dissipates. Instead of the bosses themselves being a level in themselves, they are more an intricate segments you need to take down in a certain order for you to be able to lay waste to these giant angry Shreks.
Throughout your ground based combat you’re building up your Rune Energy a special attack meter by killing the demons or saving civilians. Once the meter is full you’ll get a queue to take down the ogres, as you need to power of the special attack meter to have any effect on them at all. In early confrontations it’s as simple as chopping off the legs of the ogres, a beautifully satisfying moment filled with an awful lot of blood, running up its back and simply slicing the neck – again, an excellent moment – as the game progresses you’ll find their weak spots protected by wood or bone armour, and some with padlocks that you’ll need to lay waste to before you can end them once and for all.
The wood is a simple single slash which removes it instantly, the bone armour meanwhile can only be destroyed if you distract the ogre by them missing an attack, so whilst they’re a little confused you can use that time to break the piece in order to attack that particular part of their body. You can tear it up the back of an ogre once their legs are down – or you can simply jump down if you’re particularly high enough – though sometimes it isn’t until then you notice they’re wearing a collar which needs to be removed first, so be sure to slice it off beforehand. The ogres are well protected so it’s a case of peeling off the layers before you can properly go to town.
What I did notice, killing these fools wasn’t as difficult as I was perhaps imagining it to be. Yes they’re enormous but once their armour is off, so long as you can stay out of their way – if you’re crushed by their fists it’s more or less one hit kills, so be sure to always keep moving – once you’re on top you’re going to win the fight without much fuss. It’s strangely simple, considering how imposing they are and I was hoping for a more of a challenge. Not in a Colossus kind of way, it’s evident from the outset these are very different games, but I would have like a little more technique to be used in order to kill the games primary antagonists. The real technique and skills needed are utilised to build up your special attack meter, so you’re going to be spending more time on the ground saving the cities than bringing down the ogres. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s still wonderfully satisfying when you’re victorious against them, though strangely the battles feel somewhat anti-climatic when they’re less difficult than you imagined.
“Extinction does one great thing. Over and over again”.
Away from the main campaign you have a variety of options which can keep you busy or train your for what’s to come in the story. There is something known as ‘Extinction Mode’, the games Horde mode which is, well, weirdly titled considering I figured throughout I was already playing that particular mode in the story? It’s like Horde mode in Gears of War being called ‘Gears of War’ mode. I digress, you know what you’re getting here. Just take down an endless wave of ogres and minions to rack up high scores. It’s certainly fun taking down ogres one after the other but there’s nothing here in this game mode which feels particularly unique from the story itself. You’ve also got Custom Battles, where you set the battleground, the objectives, and take them online for others to conquer and get top of the leaderboard.
Extinction then is a mixed bag of some tremendous combat, some solid level design and gorgeous visuals. What Extinction does well, it does very well, it just doesn’t do an awful lot else.
It’s doing one thing great over and over again, with the continuous battles against the clock saving civilians, killing demons and slaying ogres. It’s a lot of fun, even if the game offers little more. The story is clunky, the voice acting is awkward and overly dramatic without sounding genuine and there’s not much else to hold your attention until it’s all over, and my enthusiasm dwindled more and more as the game progressed. It’s difficult to recommend for this reason, especially at the digital asking price of £55.
The glue holding it all together is the countdown mechanic, which keeps you on your toes throughout and offers a significant amount of replayability should you want to go back in and better your percentages. When the Custom Battles kick into gear with the community the game will no doubt procure, it will be interesting to fully explore.
Just know that whilst many games repeat a similar mechanic, Extinction is perhaps far too reliant upon it and as such, outstays its welcome.
Extinction is available now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro), Xbox One and PC
Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios
Publisher: Modus Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a review code by the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.