Scars Above from Prime Matter and Mad Head Games is a third-person sci-fi action game with a bit of a Soulslike twist on PlayStation. Learn more in our Scars Above review!
Scars Above from Prime Matter and Mad Head Games is a third-person sci-fi action game with a bit of a Soulslike twist on PlayStation. One day a huge alien structure appears in Earth’s orbit out of nowhere. It’s named by humans as The Metahedron. Since they didn’t know that much about this peculiar… thing, they ended up sending a group of scientists and engineers who are part of the Sentient Contact Assessment and Response team – a.k.a. SCAR, to investigate and see what was really going on in there.
Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, and The Metahedron ends up hauling the team across space to an unknown extrasolar system. You’ll play as SCAR member Doctor Kate Ward, who now finds herself alone in a hostile environment. You must find the rest of the crew before it’s too late, as well as find a way to return home. Kate is not an astronaut and a scientist and not a soldier, but she’ll have to make the most of her abilities and use the weapons that she finds to defeat the many enemies on her path.
You can take on this one in one of three difficulty settings: Rookie, Specialist, and Commander. Rookie presents to you an experience focusing on the story and exploration, which does not mean you won’t ever need to use your weapons and gadgets. Specialist is the standard difficulty setting, offering a challenging but fair journey through this sci-fi adventure. Commander is the most challenging of the bunch, and it will put your skills to the test. You’ll need to use all of your gadgets and approach each combat encounter with great care, or else your mistakes will cost you dearly.
The game is played from a third-person perspective, so you’ll control Kate with the left analog stick as you use the right one to swing the camera around as needed. Pressing in on the left analog stick will allow Kate to run while pressing in on the right one will make her use her Pulse Scan. As the name suggests, Pulse Scan will make it possible for Kate to quickly scan an area in one go, but it’s an ability that you’ll need to unlock.
Since Kate is a scientist, she’ll want to scan all of the structures, flora, and fauna she runs into in order to better understand what is going on and how to survive. You can do this by interacting with them by pressing and holding down the X button. By scanning everything she runs into, Kate will be able to increase her knowledge. This is important because by performing these and other actions, Kate will gain special Ability Points that she can then spend when visiting the Scars Above Ability Tree.
The Ability Tree is split into two sections: Engineering and Xenobiology. The Ability Points that Kate obtains can be spent on the Engineering side of things to unlock a rapid reload ability, boost Kate’s battery capacity so that she can use more gadgets, increase the ammo cap and fiber cap for Kate’s backpack, or make it so that non-healing consumables that are used heal 20% of Kate’s overall health total. On the Xenobiology side of the Ability Tree, you could add a boost to Kate’s health of 20%, add a 30% resistance to elements, completely remove stagger and knockdown effects, or add a xenoessence barrier to Kate’s body, which will lower incoming damage by 15%.
If you need to heal – and have the right item in stock – you can press the Triangle button to recover some of your lost health. The X button will be for interacting. You can dodge by pressing the Circle button so that you can avoid incoming attacks. Pressing the L1 button will make the gadget selector pop up so that you can choose which gadget to use. You can then press the R1 button to aim said gadget so that you can then use it upon release. You can also quick press the R1 button. As for your weapon, you can aim by pressing and holding down the L2 button as you shoot with the R2 button. The R2 button can also be used for melee attacks when a hostile entity gets too close for comfort. To reload, just press the Square button. You can switch between weapons by using the D-Pad.
Running, attacking, and dodging will consume some of Kate’s stamina, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the stamina gauge to make sure you don’t run. Oh, and be sure to activate any pillars that you find along the way! Pillars can be used as respawn points in case you die. On top of that, when you activate and interact with a pillar, your health, ammo, power, and stamina will be fully recovered. The bad news is that doing this will respawn enemies, which means that if you backtrack to a pillar and then carry on with your journey, you’ll have to take on the enemies you might have just recently defeated.
Any items that you collect will be added to your inventory. You can open it up by using the Touchpad on the DualSense controller. Once in the inventory, you’ll be able to select an item and examine it to get some extra information about it. The first item you’ll find will be a backpack where you’ll store said items. Right under it will be an Electric Cutter, a powerful item that can be used as a melee weapon as well as to remove any small obstacles on your path.
The resources that you find can be used to craft a variety of items that will prove to be very useful. For this, you’ll be using the mobile printing unit. You can craft gadgets with your resources. A flammable liquid can be of great help since it’s a gadget you can use to set an enemy or a small area on fire. Craft a protective barrier to absorb a bit of damage. Some of the items you’ll craft will function as upgrades to improve the larger items you craft. You could, for example, craft a cryo launcher upgrade to increase the total ammo.
Scars Above has a long list of trophies for you to work on, which means that it includes a Platinum trophy. And since the game is a Cross-Buy release, you will be able to play the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5 versions of the game, with each one having its own trophy list. The list is split into 30 Bronze trophies, 13 Silver trophies, and 2 Gold trophies. What are some of the objectives to complete during your time with Scars Above? You’ll need to activate all pillars on your journey, unlock every ability, scan all available unique natural resources, scan all hostile creatures, solve all puzzles, craft all weapons, gadgets, and consumables, defeat the bosses, and beat the game. As you can imagine, it’s not going to be a short trophy run!
Scars Above is a fun third-person sci-fi action with a bit of a Soulslike twist. As you take on the role of SCAR member Doctor Kate Ward, who must do whatever it takes to find out what has happened to the rest of the crew and how to make it back home before it’s too late. Scars Above makes good use of the features of the DualSense controller. Adaptive triggers will be used as you aim and shoot with your weapons. The controller’s vibration will match the actions on the screen as well as the tense story moments. The game is available as a Cross-Buy title, so your $39.99 purchase will allow you to download both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game at no extra cost.
This Scars Above review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Prime Matter.