Scorn was announced by Ebb Software way back in 2014, so we've been waiting a while. After a successful (if critically mixed) launch on Game Pass last year, the game is ready for PS5, but is that a good thing?
The answer to that is mostly a "yes". Inspired by the visual style of legendary artists H. R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński, Scorn has one of the most focused and impressive art directions we have ever seen in a game. With a grotesque, oppressive atmosphere, the game convincingly brings its horrific biomechanical world to life. The disgustingly wet sound design and darkly ambient soundtrack further enhance everything. However, this comes at a cost, as the game mechanically vacillates between adequate and poor.
While the title is primarily a puzzler, the level design isn't of sufficient quality to make solutions gratifying. Any time the title deviates from hyper-linearity, you'll be wondering if you're going in the right direction. Some of the multi-stage puzzles are great, but there's a degree of obtuseness to everything that makes the approach irksome. Figuring out what the game wants you to do is a sizeable portion of the 4-5 hour runtime.
The game has combat, too. You'll accumulate a handful of weapons, all of which sprout out of a nasty bioweapon that becomes more a part of you as you play, but the gunplay is rarely satisfying. While a great excuse to show off some truly horrible creature design, it feels like a superfluous afterthought. The game could have functioned just fine as a horror-adjacent walking simulator.
What you get out of the game is what feels like a really great artistic idea, which the team committed to fully. And after the art was done, they tried to place their gameplay ideas anywhere they happened to fit. The end result is a visually arresting, but haphazardly designed experience.