Radical, Arty, and Nightmarish Experience4 min read
Announced in 2014 under the sign of an announced failure (a completely failed Kickstarter campaign), Scorn had since managed to keep people waiting as much as it intrigued. Finally released for a short week now, a quick press review of video game publications shows how it divides as much as it surprises. Among other possible translations, Scorn can mean “defiance”, an understandable state of mind of some players towards the game.
Unhealthy aesthetics, gameplay that takes the player from behind, Scorn is a radical project. And that’s exactly why it’s a must-have title.
Let us immediately mention the main feature of Scorn: it is a video game adaptation of the pictorial work of HR Giger , the Swiss painter, inventor of biomechanical aesthetics and designer of the creature from the film Alien, by Ridley Scott . Giger ‘s biomechanical style is a nightmarish universe where flesh and metal mingle, where bodies blend with machines, and vice versa. Giger ‘s work , and therefore Scorn, is a sort of Lovecraftian variation on cyberpunk. Squared anxiety.
And from this point of view, the title of Ebb Studio is a striking success. The game’s universe is as fascinating as it is repulsive: damp, teeming, sticky, organic but cold… The artistic direction is uncompromising, and for anyone familiar with Giger ‘s work , it’s amazing.
Where The Medium, by Bloober Team, reproduced canvases by the Polish painter Zdzislaw Beksinski at the turn of a set, Scorn never stages a particular work by Giger , but brings to life the universe that the painter has created in his outfit. We are at the heart of the artist’s work, an exhilarating sensation as much as a source of uneasiness , reinforced by a discreet sound design, made up of rare musical flights and multiple small disgusting noises; discreet, but at the service of the graphic experience.
We will come across many structures of which we will never really know if they are vegetal, mechanical, or organic. Often the three at the same time… We will also think of David Cronenberg , his film eXistenZ, in particular, itself biomechanical and speaking moreover of video games, and its organic weapons, very similar to those we handle in Scorn .
If we don’t exactly willingly enter the world of Scorn , we will also be confused. The game is not where you expect it to be. The first images announcing its release seemed to promise a horrific FPS, or, if need be, a survival horror played in the first person… The game will in fact be a puzzle game.
Unless it’s a walking simulator. But tinged, nevertheless, with shooting in first person view… If we get lost in its corridors lined with guts and other umbilical cords, we are also disoriented by its kind, elusive , which means that we never know what the game expects from us, apart perhaps from remaining in this climate of permanent anxiety. And as such, the fights, which some of the press consider “failed”, or too many, are in fact exactly in their place.
We are, at the start of the game, dropped into this biomechanical complex without knowing anything about what we are doing there or what we have to do there. Just a sort of flash, perhaps a memory, the image of a fortress worthy of Beksinski on the horizon, tells us that “something” has happened to us. We are a prisoner, or a hostage… The game will then be first and foremost an exploration game. We wander through these nightmarish corridors, uncertain of the dangers that await us, until we come across the first puzzles: puzzles that are both classic, with pieces to be moved on game boards, and environmental, with the elements of the levels. to activate, set up, etc.
And it’s when you start to get used to a rhythm that alternates exploration and puzzles that the first enemies come in, and the first fights, which moreover you have to face with a particularly ineffective weapon. These fights, and those that will follow later, when we will have discovered a real shotgun, are certainly heavy, imprecise, frustrating, but that is what keeps us in a state of stress and danger. permanent. Even armed, you are never confident.
Before Scorn , we were able to test another title that wanted to be on the border between fine arts and video games: Please Touch The Artwork, a puzzle game that also transformed works by the painter Piet Mondrian into a puzzle game. In a graphic style completely opposite to the spectrum, the title of Ebb Studio finally accomplishes the same mission: to show painting in the video game.
The work of Hans Rudi Giger is digested by the developers, who offer us a striking walk in the universe of the painter. The real mastery of the title is there: to participate, alongside Please Touch the Artwork or, to a lesser extent, The Medium, in giving video games a role of cultural mediator, which could lead players to the work of the painter, but also to those who were already familiar with Giger ‘s work , the unique opportunity to fully immerse themselves in his painting.