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May 2021

Beyond Extinct

Platform(s): PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Crania Games
Release Date: 2021


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PC Preview - 'Beyond Extinct'

by Cody Medellin on June 19, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Beyond Extinct is a first-person shooter where you are a survivor in an underground facility and must fight your way through waves of monsters to reach the surface.

Roguelites are such a common game type on the PC. The merging of roguelites with first-person shooters is also something that PC players are very familiar with, given the likes of Heavy Bullets, Paranautical Activity and Tower of Guns. Yet what makes Beyond Extinct feel so different is how it merges those elements with the arena-based shooter.

In Beyond Extinct, you play the role of a nameless soldier who's stationed deep in an underground research facility that happens to house lots of monsters. One by one, your fellow soldiers are getting mowed down, some sacrificing themselves to save the rest of the troops. Instead of becoming another victim, you vow to be the first to make it to the surface alive.

As a roguelite, it has the basics down pat. Levels are randomized with monsters and monster layout, and you start a level with a random weapon or perk to go alongside your standard knife and pistol. Finishing a level takes you to an area where you can buy upgrades for weapons and armor, all of which is lost upon death. The game does keep your save in between levels, so you have the option to start your new run from the very beginning of the game or just from that level. As a shooter, it is partially built on some classic mechanics. You can reload guns, and your pistol has infinite ammo. In addition to running, you have a quick-dodge ability and the chance to perform a sliding tackle under monsters. You can pick up multiple guns in a run instead of only swapping between two of them, and health isn't regenerative, so you need to pay attention to health pick-ups and know the optimal time to use them.

Beyond Extinct doesn't want you finding the exit to a level. Instead, the game sends enemies after you in waves, but the waves aren't segmented, so a new one can begin before you've cleared all of the enemies from the previous wave. That also holds true for any waves where bosses appear. Even though the levels are segmented into rooms, doors open whenever anyone is around, so you're simply fighting in segmented arenas. The "arena shooter" moniker is perhaps the best way to describe how the shooting works, as the wave-based format is unchanged, so your objective is to kill every monster you see and only find the exit once no one else is around.

The game is also reminiscent of the zombie shooter, Killing Floor. While you aren't shooting at zombies here, the emphasis on traps and the store system will make you think of Tripwire's game. In comparison, the increased running speed and the addition of dodging makes Beyond Extinct feel more robust. If you're coming fresh off of that series, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this plays like a spin-off with an emphasis on monsters and without the multiplayer option.

Some of the special powers work really well, such as the ability to cloak yourself for a short period of time or emit a cloud of poisonous gas in a confined space. Most of them, such as a fire tornado and what appears to be a power surge, seem to be ineffective at the moment. Whether the damage output is too low or the attack radius is too small to be useful, there's time for the developers to improve upon the less effective abilities.

Currently, the environments aren't very diverse. The heavy use of steel makes sense, since the game is supposed to be set in an underground facility, but aside from some areas with different-colored lighting, the levels seem to blend together. It gets more distinct once you reach the upper floors and some vegetation appears, but don't expect this to be a visual stunner in the early levels.

The presentation is pretty nice overall. The rock music is appropriate for the high-intensity action, while the effects sound rather good. The character designs are well done, and the level of gore on display is satisfying, even if the bodies of vanquished enemies disappear after a while. The frame rate is the only thing that isn't holding too steady at the moment, with fast turns giving the GTX 1070 some frame drops and more pronounced blur at 1440p, but that's not enough to ruin the experience.

It is still early days for Beyond Extinct, since the game isn't slated for release until 2021 at the earliest. It's available for Steam Early Access, and what is available now is promising. The combat feels good due to solid movement and traps, while the upgrade system works even if it is standard stuff. It could still use some work as far as some of the special abilities go, and the pervasive steel in the underground facility is bland-looking, but the developers can address those issues over time. For now, Beyond Extinct is worth keeping an eye on.

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