Scorn footage has unbearably mounting tension and a firm release date

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Announced eight years ago, Scorn is a determinedly eerie first-person horror game set in a surreal subterranea clearly inspired by the work of HR Giger. Since then it has been subject to several delays, and has shifted away from an episodic model (what an exquisitely mid-2010s phenomenon!) towards a more conventional full-length package. The fruits of Ebb Software's labour will be playable soon, because the new gameplay footage above confirms an October 21 release date for Scorn.

We've seen extended gameplay footage of Scorn before, but the environmental design in this new video appears a lot more ornate than previously. The usual Giger trappings are there: decor that looks like a byzantine arrangement of mechanical intestines, and a mood that walks the extremely fine line between decrepit grandiosity and discomforting body horror. It's an aesthetic we've seen in games before, but Scorn has garnered a curious following because it hews closer to its inspiration than anything else. There's some serious art talent involved here, and even if the game doesn't turn out great, it'll always look amazing.

Curiously, this new 'prologue' video doesn't feature any combat. The game will certainly have weapons (earlier footage has shown some weird prosthesis-style shotgun) but this new footage seems to be preparing us for a true survival horror trip: there's some light puzzle solving, and the focus here is on steadily mounting dread. A first-person shooter this ain't.

The first footage of Scorn released all the way back in 2014, before it had even hit Steam Greenlight (remember that?). Comparing that old video with the new one is fascinating. It looks good for its time, but you can imagine it brought up in the current dialogue about graphics in early development games.

In a 2017 interview, project lead Ljubomir Peklar described Scorn's art style as "biomechanical" in the way it "deals with human anatomy in a utilitarian way, how our organs and flesh work as a cohesive system." Peklar also insisted that the game will not be "weird for the sake of weird," so expect some terrifying internal logic to the grotesquery on display. 

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day. 

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