Scorn is faithful to Giger’s work, but needs more cocks

A biomechanical body lies down with a glowing stomach.

Image: reflow software

Disdain It’s a tough game so far. It’s slow, sends you through twisting mazes with little guidance, offers no narrative comforts (at least initially), and is set in a dramatically awkward and grotesque world clearly inspired by the works of Swiss artist H.R. Giger. I have found it to be a funny, painful experience. But if I’m being honest, I think the awkwardness is the point. And in that, Disdain could be a hit game.

Developed by Ebb Software and released yesterday on PC and Xbox (I’m on PC)Disdain it has been in development since 2014. After a failed Kickstarter campaign and a since abandoned plan to release the game in two installments, it resurfaced on Kickstarter in 2017 to secure funding and is now available to play. It bills itself as “an atmospheric first person horror adventure game set in a nightmarish universe of strange shapes and a gloomy tapestry” and also inspired by Heideggerian philosophy.

I’ll leave the philosophical angle to you, the reader, as that’s not my specialty and I have no desire to comment on Martin Heidegger’s work or how it applies to this game. I get close Disdain from the perspective of someone deeply moved by the works of HR Giger; I often appreciate art that is not fun, difficult and, intentionally or not, abrasive. I’m not an expert on Giger’s biography or his intentions behind her work, but I know how I’ve responded to his art. And that is what I approach this game with.

Disdain

Disdain, in the five hours that I spent with him, it appeals to me because it generates a lot of friction in the player. I’m not necessarily having a good time, but I’m being dragged through the halls of this ghoulish festival nonetheless, more of an adventure game than a first-person shooter, because of how deeply the extremely Giger-esque art hits me.

As a trans woman who has spent most of her life in lockdown, I have found that HR Giger’s work viscerally communicates a vibe of doomed sex, sexuality, and physical forms, an overall sense of unease and confusion that resonates with how I have seen the world. for most of my life. The images of her provide meditative spaces that are much more cerebral and in tune with my feelings about the world than the more simplistic, gore-for-gore utility that Hollywood has often reduced it to. That’s why I’m attracted to this game. And while Disdain It’s not for everyone (not most, probably), so far it’s managing to reflect what I get from Giger’s art by refusing to give in to “AAA” gaming expectations of being easy to play and understand.

There is no hand. No map. No target marker. The HUD elements are confusing (to the extreme, actually), and the puzzles take a bit of time to understand. You can’t jump. You can’t bend over. Invisible walls are everywhere, making Disdain Feel more like a museum. The first “weapon” you get is pretty much useless against the first few enemies, and once you finally get a firearm, it’s woefully inaccurate. This game has one of the worst cases of “where the hell am I supposed to go now” I’ve experienced in years. And yet, I want to keep playing until the end.

Disdain it succeeds in communicating, in using, what I love about HR Giger’s work in two key ways. But he fails in a third, perhaps fatal.

His first success comes nailed to bewilderment and surrealism. I don’t know what will do anything. As a player, I feel frustrated about that. But like me, Claire, I am delighted to be so lost and forced into a place of unknowing.

The way it tends to play out is that you come across strange rooms and devices whose purposes are unclear. He tries to activate them in some way, using the strange objects he picks up or by pressing the A button, only to be frustrated when the animation plays out to no effect. Then you stomp through the halls and touch gross things over and over again until you finally figure out where you’re supposed to go or which piece of dirt interacts with which pulsating organelle.

gif: EbbSoftware / Kotaku

This is undoubtedly annoying, but I would say that, in the spirit of Giger, this is how it should be. If this game assigned random traditional words and catchphrases to objects and spaces around you, or made it more friendly, it would corrupt the natural flow of weird nonsense you have to deal with. The protagonist (so far) remains silent, leaving my own thoughts to narrate what I am experiencing. Disdain it becomes very personal in this void of character and voice.

A game that draws so directly from Giger should be inherently surreal and confusing. That said, many of these puzzles are the kind we’ve seen before in other games. What makes them work, at least for me, leads me to DisdainThe second key hit so far: brings to life the “mechanics” of the “biomechanical” source material. Seeing this kind of art style bend and slide through my manipulations conveys a sense of movement that Giger’s still works don’t normally convey.

Combined, these two strengths give me a gaming experience similar to what I get when I get lost in a Giger piece. If I had played softer, softer, it would have been much more Prometheus that “brain salad surgery.” Disdainby itself, it is not a “brain salad surgery”, “Necronom IV,” either “birth machine”, but I find that, as a video game, it resonates with what I look for in those works.

Read more: When disgustingly sexual art and adventure games collided

DisdainIn my opinion, ‘s latest glitch has little to do with its clumsiness as a game. Sure, the protagonist walks too slowly (get used to holding “sprint”) and you really should turn motion blur off and increase FoV by at least a notch or two. Also, the game suffers from a kind of stutter that I’m starting to notice more and more in Unreal Engine games. All of these are valid reasons for players to leave this game.

But to me, its key flaw is the art design’s almost shocking lack (given the source material) of engagement with human sexuality. I think Disdain I could have borne learning more of the eroticism of Giger’s work. Sure there is bloody body horror here, but the dilution of its erotic motifs deprives DisdainThe art of the sense of humanity, as twisted and distorted as it may seem, is present in Giger.

I understand why this is probably the case. Any game that followed HR Giger’s depictions of distorted genitalia, of monstrous penises and vaginas, would likely land in Adults Only territory. There’s enough “insertion,” phallic imagery, and yawning openings to hint in the right directions, but Disdain He suffers from not reaching the end.

Strange architecture hints at sexuality in a screenshot of Scorn.

Scenes like this should be more explicitly erotic.
Screenshot: EbbSoftware / Kotaku

Frankly, more penises, vulvas, and body parts would make this game that much better. The fingerprints of Giger-style biomechanical sexuality are there in the design of his various tunnels and ascending phallic objects, but they lack the clear details of actual human anatomy. this way key Disdain it’s almost like a radio-friendly version of an explicit song. To be fair, I don’t know if I trust a modern video game to work with such tasteful themes in the first place, but the mix of horror, confusion and eroticism is a huge draw of this art style for me and it’s a shame to see it like that, well, neutered in Disdain. Raw, hauntingly surreal eroticism is what often draws me to Giger, and its omission here undermines the play of potential vitality.

Disdain it’s not a fun game. It’s confusing and painful to play. it’s like listening Dillinger’s escape plan backwards. But for those reasons, I’ll keep walking these halls as long as the sloppy combat doesn’t make the experience too bitter.

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