If you’re a fan of horror games, you’re going to be feasting in the coming months and years. There’s a long list of major upcoming releases in the genre lined up for the not-so-distant future, and one that many of us have been keenly anticipating for quite a while now is Ebb Software’s Scorn. First announced way back in 2014, the game has seen some ups and downs during development, but now, its release is finally round around the corner, and the anticipation surrounding it is continuing to mount. To that end, here, we’re going to take a look at a few key details that you should know about the game.
Probably the most instantly apparent thing about Scorn is its visual style, and just how striking it is. Since the day it was first unveiled, its dark, eerie, moody aesthetic has turned quite a few heads, brimming with otherworldly, stomach-churning sights. Given how effectively unsettling it looks, its no surprise that Scorn’s developers at Ebb Software have said quite a few times that the game’s look is inspired by H.R. Giger, the man responsible for the iconic art design of the Alien franchise. Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński has also served as an inspiration for the game.
Scorn’s narrative premise is quite an interesting one, in that it’s been purposely designed to be vague and mysterious. The game throws players right into the deep end- you’ll play as an unknown, unnamed humanoid… something (with horrific, skinless limbs, apparently), finding yourself lost on a terrifying alien planet where everyone and everything you cross paths with – from the enemies to the environments themselves – are a weird, horrific mix of machine, flesh, and bone. The nature of the planet and what you’re doing there and even what your ultimate goal is are things that (presumably) will be revealed to you as you play more of the game.
Appropriately enough, Scorn’s storytelling method is going to be as purposefully vague as the actual content of its story seemingly is. The game is going to have absolutely no cutscenes, with all the storytelling happening passively in-game itself. The developers, it seems, have made it a point to make the narrative style as indirect as possible.
NOT A SHOOTER
Scorn is a first person game, of course, and you will find projectile weapons to use in the games, but while normally you’d put those two together and assume you’re in for a first person shooter experience, here, that’s not going to be the case. Ebb Software has explicitly said on a few occasions that Scorn isn’t an FPS, and is instead focused on the exploration of its environments, uncovering its mysteries, and solving puzzles.
Horror is a wide genre, and different experiences go about tackling in different ways. With Scorn, Ebb Software is veering away from the sort of in-your-face horror you’d expect from the relatively more mainstream stories, and is instead going for an experience that relies almost entirely on atmosphere. Back in 2020, in an interview with GamingBolt, game director Ljubomir Peklar said that the game focuses on slower, palpable dread through atmosphere “to a ridiculous degree.”
Something else that Scorn seems to be putting quite a bit of emphasis on is immersion, and while the design and level of detail in the environments will have a role to play in that, your awareness of your own character’s body will also play a role. From solving puzzles to picking up objects to interacting with things in the environment, Scorn is promising a very tactile style that will emphasize moment-to-moment immersion above all else.
Scorn’s structure promises to be an interesting one. The alien world the game is set on is going to be a collection of several distinct locations, each with their distinct themes where obstacles and enemies are concerned. Environments will be interconnected and the game’s structure is open-ended, while players will be tasked with acquiring new tools, weapons, and skills to unlock more of the world and explore further and further.
While combat certainly isn’t the focus in Scorn, you are going to get your hands on a few weapons in the game. Their grotesque visual design looks unique, much like the rest of the game itself, and so far, we’ve seen a few of them in action. There’s a grenade launcher (which we’re assuming will be a late-game pickup), a 6-shot pistol that’s good for decent range, and a 3-shot shotgun that’s deadly when used against foes up-close. These biomechanical weapons are equipped by implanting them into your body, and as such, only one can be equipped at a time. To swap, you’ll have to manually remove the one you have equipped and slot in the one you want to use.
INVENTORY AND AMMO MANAGEMENT
Given Scorn’s focus on palpable atmosphere and largely combat-free gameplay, it’s no surprise that even though you will have access to some weapons, you’re not going to be able to go all guns blazing whenever you want. Conserving and smartly using your ammo is going to be a crucial consideration, as it often is in horror games. That means that figuring out when you need to run, hide, or avoid confrontation in other ways will be key to making progress.
Horror is one genre where being too long can very easily be a bad thing for a game, especially if it ends up hurting the pacing. Scorn, however, is apparently going to land in the sweet spot. Ebb Software has confirmed that the game will take roughly 6-8 hours to finish, depending on your play style and skill level. Of course, how well the game uses that runtime remains to be seen, but that seems about the right length for a horror game of this style.
NO PHOTO MODE
Scorn is clearly a gorgeous and technically impressive game, and there’s a good chance that players are going to want to stop and admire its grotesque world to their heart’s content while they’re playing. Photo modes have proven a popular way of doing that and sharing the experience in many games in recent years. Sadly, Ebb Software has confirmed that Scorn won’t have a photo mode- well, at least at launch. Whether or not it ends up getting added in following release remains to be seen. One can certainly hope.
For a game as technically impressive as this one, you’d expect impressive resolution and frame rate targets, especially seeing as Scorn is skipping last-gen hardware. Thankfully, it seems like it won’t disappoint. On Xbox Series X, the game will run at 4K and 60 FPS. There’s no word yet on what the game will target on the Xbox Series S, but hopefully Ebb Software will be able to get the most out of the machine.
Meanwhile, if you’re planning on playing Scorn on PC, you’re going to need an impressive rig. On minimum settings, you’ll need either a Ryzen 3 3300X or an i5-8400, along with a GeForce GTX 1060 (3 GB), and an 8 GB of RAM. On recommended settings, you’ll need either a Ryzen 5 360 or an i7-8700, along with a GeForce GTX 2070 (8 GB), and 16 GB of RAM. On either setting, you’ll need a PC with a solid state drive, and roughly 50 GB of free storage space.
INCLUDED WITH GAME PASS
It’s abundantly clear even at a glance that Scorn isn’t going to be a game with mass market appeal, so if you’re in the group that’s intrigued by Ebb Software’s promises but isn’t entirely convinced if it’s the sort of experience that’ll gel with you, there’s good news for you. Like a number of other major third party releases in recent (and coming) months, Scorn is going to be available via Game Pass right at launch.
Even if you’re planning on purchasing Scorn and not accessing the game via a Game Pass subscription, you’re going to pay less than you ordinarily would for most games. The game will retail for $39.99, which makes sense, considering the small scope of its development (and for many, its length).