Scorn Review

Scorn Review – Marrying Meat and Machinery

Scorn manages to pull its players into a gruesome yet bizzarely beautiful world marked by complicated but fair puzzles.

There is hope and a kind of beauty in there somewhere, if you look for it.

H.R. Giger
Recommended Videos

Decay, death, and dismal dreariness. None of these sound too intriguing, do they? Ebb Software has found a way to combine those elements and make them into something horrifyingly beautiful. Their newly released atmospheric horror game, Scorn, manages to pull players into a graphic hellscape marked by its flesh and fluids and keep them there by somehow turning it into an irresistible, immersive experience. A work in progress dating all the way back to 2014, this game is largely inspired by the works of artists H.R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński. Giger is likely known best for his biomechanical art and work on the Alien series while Beksiński specialized in surreal, dystopian painting. Scorn lives up to both artists’ legacies with its stunning environments and flawless presentation. Everywhere I turned while playing could have been taking from an art book.

The scenery is not the only thing that kept me fully immersed, however. The puzzles that Scorn offers are a breath of fresh air in a genre that has recently been holding players’ hands through experiences meant to be challenging.

Rather than guiding you, Scorn throws you into its twisted world without much word at all. You are faced with a puzzle as soon as you find yourself able to move. This experience stays much the same throughout the game, shifting only in its subject but never shedding its sheer difficulty. Each puzzle is unique while maintaining familiar mechanics. Learning said mechanics can initally feel a bit overwhelming, but this feeling of inability fades quickly as you shift your focus from solving the puzzle to taking in every aspect of the atmosphere.

Image Credit: Ebb Software via Twinfinite

In a beautiful blend of biotechnology and organic material, the world stands before you as you play and offers every puzzle’s solution. I found myself lost throughout my time playing Scorn quite a few times, but it was never an unrsolvable moment for me. I retraced my steps. I retraced them some more. I looked up. I looked down. I listened to every sound. I moved every object I could move in every direction that I could move it in. Eventually, it would all click in my brain and then click similarly in the game as I solved a small step.

Some players might complain about the lack of hand-holding in Scorn, but I found it refreshing. There are no tutorials or guides. The game offers no signals to direct you. You are very much thrown into its world and forced to learn on your own. I found myself annoyed at having to go back and forth to figure things out sometimes, especially as I did not have the comfort of a map to show me where I had been or what I had done. However, this annoyance was small and generally short-lived as I found more time to appreciate the environment and discover things that I had not before seen.

Image Credit: Ebb Software via Twinfinite

As I played on, I was happy to learn that Scorn does not rely on sudden scares to frighten players. There were no jumps or screams, but rather the lonely vastness of the world itself and the sounds accompanying it. Every squelching noise that the fleshy structures made had me shivering. Turning corners never stopped being terrifying, even as I learned that nothing would “pop out” or make a loud sound.

The thing that terrified me most going into the game was combat. I have never been a fan of combat in games, and I think I went in with some sort of expectation that I would be shooting hellish creatures like I had to in Doom. This was so very far from the truth. The combat I did encounter, such as the back-to-back boss fights involving grenade launchers (yes, grenade launchers), was fair and fit well into the gameplay. I did not find myself constantly fumbling with hotbars or weapons to shoot enemies that fell from the ceiling as an attempt to jump-scare me. Instead, I was able to enjoy the environment at my own pace until designated moments of combat would occur.

Aside from the scenic atmosphere, sounds, and strategically-placed boss fights, the rest of the fear that Scorn puts into its players manifests itself through its mystery. Specifically, the mystery that is behind the setting of Scorn. What exactly is going on?

Image Credit: Ebb Software via Twinfinite

As a huge fan of the Alien franchise and all things biopunk, the story seriously intrigued me. This was possibly the only complaint I had in my head while playing– the lack of any real storytelling. While I am aware that the developers intended the story to be vague and all discovery of its meaning to be made through exploration of the puzzles and world, I still feel like I am missing a good chunk of what was going on in Scorn. I want to know more about who I am playing as, the world that I find myself in, and the other… creatures I come across. I want to know how things got to be the way that they are, and why.

Unfortunately, it seems like I am going to have to wait for some much smarter players to make video guides on the lore itself before I found out the true meaning of Scorn. For now, I can at least have fun speculating and pondering the things I did discover while playing. The creativity is endless in that sense, since the audience can infer what is happening by applying their own gameplay experiences. The game’s atmosphere and challenging puzzle system definitely allows for a lot of thought-forming time.

The narrative aspect of the game seems to be another area in which the creators did not feel like holding players’ hands, I suppose. They opted instead to keep more quiet about any obvious plot so as to make it more unsettling. Sometimes, not knowing is more effective in horror than knowing. I would be lying if I said I did not want at least a little bit of background, though.

Image Credit: Ebb Software via Twinfinite

Overall, I would very highly recommend Scorn to fans of both horror and puzzle games. It definitely stands out in both genres as unique, and its challenges will keep you thinking constantly. It is also a game worth checking out if you are a fan of the Alien series or anything biopunk. The art alone was enough for me to immediately wishlist it. While the lack of dialogue did at times feel upsetting, possibly because I myself am a writer at heart, it definitely did add to the creepiness of the atmosphere. With more dialogue, it is very likely that my immersion would have been broken, or at the least, paused. If you think that you have the guts to be surrounded by guts, grab Scorn now on PC or Xbox.

Scorn
Overall, I would very highly recommend Scorn to fans of both horror and puzzle games. It definitely stands out in both genres as unique, and its challenges will keep you thinking constantly. It is also a game worth checking out if you are a fan of the Alien series or anything biopunk. The art alone was enough for me to immediately wishlist it. While the lack of dialogue did at times feel upsetting, possibly because I myself am a writer at heart, it definitely did add to the creepiness of the atmosphere. With more dialogue, it is very likely that my immersion would have been broken, or at the least, paused.
Pros
  • Amazing atmosphere.
  • Immersive experience.
  • Challenging puzzles.
  • Unique solving mechanics.
Cons
  • Lack of narrative design.
  • Story that is difficult to discern.
  • Confusing moments requiring running back and forth without map help.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X/S.

Twinfinite is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Author
Image of Anna Koselke
Anna Koselke
Anna was a freelance writer for Twinfinite between June 2020 and March 2023 and is an avid fairy enthusiast who lives and breathes The Sims. She spends most of her time eating pasta, reading fantasy books, tending to in-game farms, world-building, and daydreaming about befriending every animal. Playing Games Since: 2002. Favorite Genres: Fantasy, Simulation, Sandbox, JRPG, RPG, Visual Novel, Wholesome.