Extinction will have you sprinting up walls, grappling through the air, and using mystical energy to defeat these not-so-jolly green giants. In Extinction, you’ll be fighting giant brutes across a large, yet strangely barren countryside. Extinction is an action/adventure game developed by Iron Galaxy and published by Maximum Games. It was an interesting concept, and I was fairly excited to play this game ever since I saw footage of it last year at E3. Unfortunately, after playing the game I realized that Extinction has a lot of problems, and the biggest one was that it was completely inaccessible to me.
If you are familiar with the anime Attack on Titan (or the subsequent game series that was based on the show), then you’ll get the basics of the gameplay in Extinction. You are a soldier rescuing refugees and protecting a city from a giant monster, in this case an ogre. The monster breaks down the city walls, so you have a limited amount of time to stop it before it kills the populace. You also have to gruesomely chop each individual limb in order to finish it off. That’s basically the whole game, except sometimes Extinction tries to pad the experience by giving you busy work. This includes teleporting civilians away and fighting these mini troll creatures, known as the Ravenii, until the ogre shows up. There’s a five hour campaign mode and another mode where you can do individual challenges against other players online.
Extinction has very little when it comes to accessibility options, and the controls are not very forgiving. I couldn’t even get past the first level in the game. There are no difficulty levels to choose from, and I think having them really would’ve helped because this game requires a lot of multitasking, including timed movements and precision aiming. You move with the left control stick and aim the camera with the right control stick. Attacking is done with the symbol buttons and the grappling mechanism with the right trigger button. The left trigger buttons aim and fire your weapon when trying to cut down the ogres’ limbs. This is where I had the most trouble. Defeating the ogre was impossible to me; in order to cut off its arms or legs, you have to press several buttons at once and aim the camera with the right control stick. There are weak points at the base of the knee, the head, and elbow that you must aim at precisely, or you won’t hurt the creature at all. Despite how big the ogres look, their attacks are pretty fast, and they can kill you in one or two hits. Unfortunately, the amount of damage they deliver is also random so you won’t always know what to expect. However, it doesn’t take long before you’re crushed like a grape under the ogre’s foot and having to start all over from the beginning of the mission. There are red highlighted areas that appear on the ogre’s body to let you know where to slice, but you have to get very close to the spot for your attacks to connect. There’s no use in trying to get to a safe area and attack the ogre long-range, because Extinction won’t let you try unless you’re in the area it wants you to be. The grappling mechanism sometimes helps you by letting you get to different parts of the map in a quicker fashion. It works similarly to how the grappling hook, in the Batman: Arkham Asylum games, latches onto tall buildings and quickly pushes you higher up. However, Extinction puts these “latch on” points in confusing places. It’s not very clear whether you’re grabbing onto a tree or a building, and you won’t often know if your character will be flung in the complete opposite direction than you intended. To top it off, you have to finish the ogre before its able to get to the center of the town and kill the rest of the citizens. I’d say less than five minutes of allotted time are given, and there’s no way to slow the creature down to extend this period. Suffice it to say, disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments will have an extremely difficult time. It was inaccessible to me, and even using the PlayStation 4’s built-in remappable control options, I couldn’t maneuver the controls. Extinction’s gameplay required too much physical effort.
For gamers with visual impairments, I didn’t notice too many obstacles. Although the screen can sometimes get cluttered with large hint bubbles that pop up periodically. A brightness slider is available in the options menu, but the game is fairly bright as is. There’s a chance colorblind players will have trouble during the ogre fights because the signifying targets for cutting its limbs are red, and overlaid on giant green body parts. Extinction definitely makes sure to tell you how to attack using repetitive audio cues, but like I talked about earlier, you have to be very precise with your aiming and how close you are to the monster. Some colorblind players may not be able to see these target areas correctly. Otherwise, the visuals are clear. The only useful accessibility options that Extinction has are subtitles. Thankfully, deaf players will at least have the ability to understand what characters are saying. The font is very large, and there are dark backgrounds built in to the dialog boxes. The subtitles are not always consistent, unfortunately. Some background dialogue can be heard but is not captioned.
I’m desperately trying to find good things to say about Extinction. I was looking forward to this game being a fun, medieval-inspired action adventure, but it was not worth the $60 I paid for it. I can’t really say much more, because of how little of the game I was able to play. I thought the art style was nice and the ogres had a really intense and monstrous design that worked to keep the stakes high. However, the game was inaccessible to disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments. If they had some sort of camera assist that helped when aiming at the giant, things could have been manageable. Instead, there was no attempt to help disabled gamers, and I felt like I had wasted my time. Hopefully, the studio will learn from this.