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Scorn Preview: Body horror fever dream

It’s Scorn, it has the juice.

Have you ever had a nightmare in which you walk through dank, dripping corridors filled with biomass and reeking of god knows what? Where every step you take squelches and you never really feel as alone as you seem? No? Just me?

In case you haven’t had that oddly specific labyrinthine nightmare but want to know what it feels like first hand then welcome to Scorn. It’s a Giger-esque nightmare of organic looking mechanical constructs, each seemingly more grotesque than the last. More than that though, Scorn looks the way a Nine Inch Nails album sounds: dark, dank, atmospheric, and dripping with god knows what.

You’re thrown into this world with zero explanation and a seemingly very strong urge to put your bits in places they maybe shouldn’t go. Like a kid at a rockpool, your character quickly starts shoving their fingers into cracks and crevices they really can’t be certain they belong until they’re eventually rewarded with some rather painfully acquired new wrist bling.

This helpful new addition is essentially a skeleton key that can let you access a variety of machinery and progress forward through the games puzzles. The Steam description for Scorn touts both puzzles and combat as core aspects of the game, tough sadly there was no combat on display in our short prologue.

Instead we were given just one proper puzzle to complete, and it was a rather easy one at that. It’s hard to know if what we’ve seen so far will turn out to be a good representation of what Scorn is, but it’s fair to say that the developers Ebb Software is playing its cards close to its chest.

What I can say though is that, at its core, Scorn is a game about sticking your fingers in places they don’t belong. Every machine you operate, every door you interact with has a gross, squelchy animation as your character sticks their digits into it to and operate it.

Once you’ve firmly embedded your fingers — or sometimes your whole hand — into whatever biomechanical machinery is in front of you, you can then use it to manipulate something in the world to aid you in your puzzle solving. From doors to cranes, everything works by sticking your bits into it and either twisting or pulling to get something else to move.

While that may sound simple enough, it’s the sheer attention to detail that has been poured into those animations and sound effects that makes Scorn shine. Everybody has had those intrusive thoughts at some point — “stick your fingers in that” — and Scorn is all about bringing those thoughts to life in what are often quite disgusting ways.

The squelch of fingers being stuck into flesh pockets and the soft pop as they’re pulled out. The creaking machinery, the muffled screams of your temporary comrade. All of this works together to be at once fascinating and oppressive. Scorn is certainly not for the faint of heart.

The best way that I can explain my time with Scorn is to say that it’s like someone took Myst and made it gross. Rather than a whimsical wonderful world, instead it’s dank and disgusting and full of biopunk goodness.

Our 45ish minute demo wasn’t really long enough to get into the guts of Scorn, but what it did offer was a glimpse of what’s to come. That fleeting look into the churning internals is a promising one, but it will remain to be seen just how much more it has to offer when it releases next month.



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About the author

Hamish Lindsay

Avid reader and general geek, justifying the time I spend playing games by writing about them. I try not to discriminate by genre, but I remember story more than gameplay. I’ve been playing League for longer than Akali and I’m still Silver. Fallout 3 and MGS3 may be the pinnacle of gaming.