Nothing’s wrong with Callisto Protocol, especially if it’s included in your PlayStation Plus membership. With the festive season in fall swing, it was time to have a merry ol’ Chrimbo ripping off body parts. Y’know, as tradition dictates.

Holy shit, these visuals are decent. That chap looks familiar… why, it’s Josh Duhamel. You might recognise him from Call of Duty WWII or movies like Transformers, but you never knew his name. The same as Karen Fukuhara, you’ll know her as Kimiko if you watch The Boys. Inmate 1138? No idea who that is.

In Callisto Protocol, you play Jacob Lee, a wannabe Han Solo-type smuggler without the charm. After Dani (Fukuhara) infiltrates Jacob’s ship, they crash land on the moon planet Callisto, home of a high-security prison, soon to be our lead’s new home. Before he can say “T-Virus”, there’s an outbreak, and all the prisoners are mutating. They’re angry, too.

Callisto Protocol PS5 Review - A little head
A little head. Source: PR

Callisto Protocol is as cinematic as Fort Solis, with its movie-like aesthetics and stellar cast. The big difference, however, is the type of gameplay. While there is a decent story on par with any sci-fi flick, this is a third-person action game, a survival horror that ditches logical puzzles for claustrophobic melee combat and gratuitous maiming.

It’s easy to see that Dead Space mechanics influenced Striking Distance Studio. Jacob can dismember appendages either with an array of guns, a modified security baton or stamping them into a gruesome paste on the floor that makes it one with the surface. Besides stopping these bastards from getting up, they’ll drop health packs, ammo, and tat to swap for Callisto credits.

Survival horror = scary stuff and resource management. Callisto Protocol is no exception, as ammo is initially scarce, but the baton and a telekinetic power glove that blasts enemies into conveniently placed spikes make it manageable. The last third of the game is harsh. After quickly annihilating hordes of enemies in stealth mode, mini-bosses eat your ammo, like leaving a packet of Jaffa Cakes with a bunch of feral geriatrics.

Callisto Protocol PS5 Review - Mon cœur
Mon cœur. Source: PR

The latter part of Callisto Protocol is entertaining for its storytelling and stealth sections, though there is a spike in difficulty. Switching and reloading of guns takes more time than it takes my kids to get ready for school. It’s painful. Checkpoints are frequent, though they often occur when you can’t heal or reload before having your head caved in by a two-headed chimaera.

With all that said, the melee combat in Callisto Protocol makes the experience gutsy and immersive. Instead of timing windows and gauges, Jacob can shift left and right to dodge attacks or temporarily block them before unleashing a counter. What that means is it’s really, really satisfying bashing in these monsters with a modified baton, and there’s zero clutter.

Like Ghost of Tsushima, the UI is minimalist. Jacob’s health is visible on the back of his neck, and ammo reserves show on an LCD on the gun. It’s impressive that this system works great, and it’s hard to recall a moment of getting lost as the level design is varied throughout.

Callisto Protocol PS5 Review - Not Mass Effect
Not Mass Effect. Source: PR

There are a couple of scenes where you must guide Jacob in a freefall capacity, which results in a handful of frustrating deaths. Also, the Blood Worms that latch onto your face out of nowhere and trigger a QTE shiv event are irritating and cause a loss of health unless you spot them before they spot you.

Callisto Protocol won’t be winning any awards for originality in its story, though it was entertaining, nevertheless. It was engaging without getting convoluted, nor too predictable and on par with most Hollywood sci-fi flicks. Naturally, having such a cast carried each cutscene well, which there are a fair amount of.

If you don’t like cutscenes or find yourself witnessing way too many death scenes in the style of The Dark Pictures Anthology, they can be skipped. In general, the story elements were a good length – unlike the recent movie I started to watch called Gotham Knights. Wait, that was a game!? It’s too late; already deleted it. 

There were a handful of scenes that convinced me to bail, but I stuck it out and was satisfied with Callisto Protocol’s conclusion. However, it’s a tough game, and I have no desire to play the New Game+, nor am I interested in the season pass. Dead Space fans may turn their nose up at it, but give this a look. There’s nothing wrong with it (besides the speed of changing weapons, Blood Worms, and the prison food).