Extinction has a lot of ingredients in place which should come together to make an engaging, fun, and exciting game. The main character Avil can quickly traverse the land to fight the hordes of monsters that have appeared, there are colourful and destructible environments, and of course, there are the giant ogres known as Revanii that tower over the the scenery. Sadly, there are issues that come to light while hacking away at monsters which stop Extinction from being more than just an average game.
As humanity comes under threat from the the invasion of the titanic Revanii and the smaller Jackals, there are only two people still capable of defeating this threat from another world. Avil is a Sentinel, the last of a dwindling ancient order who stood guard waiting for just this threat to emerge, and Xandra, who can use her magic and tools to assist him.
As the last hope for mankind, Avil is the only character you see during gameplay outside of civilians who need rescuing, but while the story deals with an apocalyptic theme, its delivery is lacklustre. Both characters and plot could have been fleshed out much more, and it’s strange how all the major story events happen offscreen, with with Avil acting as a diversion against the Revanii and exposition delivered by Xandra. It makes it very hard to care for any of the characters that pop up, who are then unceremoniously cast aside. It got to a point where I was just skipping dialogue because of how uninteresting the plot became.
While the story is lacklustre, the gameplay should make up for that shortcoming. It gets off to a promising start as Avil faces off against the first of the Revanii and Jackals, but Extinction’s 12-hour campaign quickly settles into a repetitive cycle. The mission types are split between killing a certain number of Revanii, making sure the destruction meter doesn’t fall below a certain percentage, rescuing a certain number of civilians, or defending watchtowers for a set amount of minutes. These are 35 missions in total, but they just rotate through these mission types which quickly become stale.
Some of that comes from how simple the gameplay itself is. The Revanii look imposing as they lumber around, and you can imagine Shadow of the Colossus style battles as you struggle to clamber up their bodies, but they’re actually really easy to fight. While each type of Revanii has different armour, none of them take long to destroy except for the invulnerable Brightsteel. In most cases, all you have to do is aim a rune strike at a glowing target and hit it. As you destroy armour, cut off limbs, save civilians, and kill Jackals, a meter fills up until you can perform a kill strike. This is the move which decapitates a Revanii and ends their threat. It’s disappointing to say that some types of Jackal were actually more of a challenge.
What also doesn’t help is how dumb the AI can be sometimes, which mainly seems to manifest in the Revanii instead of the smaller Jackals. The smaller enemies will either charge for civilians to kill them before you can rescue them or come straight for you. Beyond that, there were moments they just stood around until they picked up where Avil was, and it was worse for the Revanii. In a number of missions they would just stand around roaring at nothing in particular. In one instance this was during a mission where they were meant to be destroying watchtowers, but instead decided to just stand around. Since it was a timed mission, I could literally stand around and wait for the timer to countdown. They began moving again with around 90 seconds left, but this had all but guaranteed I would be victorious anyway.
There were other technical issues as well. The Revanii hits could sometimes damage Avil when it shouldn’t have been possible. At one point, Avil was on the shoulder of one Revanii when a second punched the ground. Avil died. Fortunately, he respawned nearby, so not much progress was lost, but this kind of situation arose on a few different occasions where hits were nowhere near, but still led to health being lost or death. In addition, the camera can be a nuisance at times with the view moving to points where Avil can’t be seen due to a Revanii’s arm or body getting in the way. While these only last a few seconds, it becomes frustrating while trying to navigate the world.
Outside of the campaign there are the Extinction and Skirmish modes. Extinction tasks you with surviving against the enemy horde for as long as possible with just one life, while Skirmish generates a random map and objective to beat. There are also the daily challenges and trial runs that have various challenges themselves, such as rescuing a number of civilians within a time limit. There are leaderboards which can show how well you’ve done against other players, but these aren’t modes that will keep you coming back.
The environments in Extinction are very colourful, but can be a bit of a pain to navigate at times as certain pathways are awkwardly placed. While areas are distinctive from each other they’re all rather basic in design. There’s a cartoonish feel to the world which clashes with the end of the world stakes presented. The voice acting comes across as hammy at points as well, adding to the cartoonish feel of Extinction.
Extinction is a game that has large ambitions, but fails to be as exciting as it could have been. The Revanii look imposing, but are less threatening than the smaller enemies that accompany them, and with a mixture of lacklustre storytelling, repetitive action and some technical issues, Extinction end up a remarkably average title.
Version tested: PS4