Review: Scathe Tries to be Doom, Fails

I’ve been playing first person shooters since their inception, and while there have been some real stinkers over the years masquerading as “retro” FPS games, I haven’t come across any quite as bad as Scathe. And before you start leaving a bunch of hateful comments, you have to believe me: I tried really hard to like Scathe. In fact, I skipped the embargo and have been coming back to this flawed shooter for the last few weeks, and the more I play it, the more I hate it.

Scathe is a first person shooter in which you play the eponymous Scathe. As Scathe, your goal is to shoot lots of demons or something. Honestly, it was such a ripoff of the Doomslayer I lost interest about halfway through the incredibly short character introduction and wanted to get straight to blasting demons into sprays of red giblets. But not only did Scathe fail to capture my attention about its setting and the protagonist’s agenda, I could barely stand its gameplay.

Screenshot: Scathe

As a first person shooter, one of the most important things about Scathe should be its gunplay. It’s bad, and for so many reasons. First of all, your main weapon has little oomph, and therefore, never feels that satisfying to shoot. That’s a bummer because you’ll be using the main assault-rifle style weapon a lot more than any other gun in Scathe, because there’s a small chunk of gameplay you have to get through before you even get another weapon–and the weapons have little power, and little ammo. Since the ammo was so scarce I imagined the weapons would have an “overpowered” feeling to them, but not only did I barely have a chance to use them, I hardly wanted to use them.

Enemies in Scathe are similarly unimpressive. Meanwhile, they looked like they’re ripped straight from Doom (2016) with added neon lights. And while I appreciate the aesthetic, the enemies trend towards generic. But it’s not their generic quality that’s the worst culprit: it’s their terrible AI. Most enemies just make a beeline towards the player, with ranged enemies hovering in place taking potshots as you run through same-y corridors.

Screenshot: Scathe

But man, those screenshots. I was pretty hyped for Scathe coming up to its release. Okay, it looked like Doom 2016, but that’s so damn cool, right? Well, it makes for good screenshots, but Scathe is visually lackluster overall. Enemy movement is stiff, and it makes the entire experience look cheap. 

To pile onto the retinue of issues I’ve had with Scathe is the level design, and even the way the levels work. Scathe’s levels are set into one large labyrinth. Each section of the labyrinth usually has a couple of exits that correspond to runes letting you know where you’ll end up once you pass through the exit. It sounds a little more confusing than it is, but it’s probably my least favorite way I’ve ever encountered a game’s levels. It’s set up like a roguelike, but it doesn’t have randomization.

 

I really wanted to like Scathe, but I never found the fun. You should just go play Doom, because Scathe ain’t it. It has uninteresting weapons with lackluster gunplay and hordes of mindless enemies through uninspired levels.

Scathe is available now on PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store.

Antal Bokor
Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian.
He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.

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