Back in 2000, writer Paul Jenkins introduced the superman to Marvel Comics in the form of the Golden Guardian of Good, the Sentry.
Marvel had birthed cape-clad icons with familiar power sets in its fictional universe over the decades, but this was the first time in the comic book company’s history that it’d created a direct response to its main publishing rival’s – DC Comics – greatest icon: the blue and red-clad Superman.
As was the way with all of Marvel’s pantheon of super-powered vigilantes, Robert Reynolds was a flawed individual, a way to humanise the person under the spandex. Afflicted with psychological issues, he lacked the confidence to inspire as Clark Kent’s alter ego did.
But in one way he, or more accurately his creator, managed to surpass Superman. This was by way of an answer to the impossible question: in a world in which uncountable disasters occur every moment, how does a hero who could save anyone – yet can’t be everywhere simultaneously – prioritise?
The Sentry’s answer was an AI – CLOC – who could coldly process the data to calculate, then inform The Sentry who he should save, and by omission, who he’d let die. The guilt was shouldered by an artificial intelligence rather than the man.
In Extinction, pitting a lone warrior as the only line of defence against a horde of skyscraper-sized ogres attacking population centres, the responsibility to answer the impossible question is you.
The inevitability of an extinction-level event
Playing as Avil, the solo superpowered Sentinel prepared to race to any call but unable to answer them all, you’ll have to make split-second decisions as to where, and who, you’d best serve.
Complicating matters is the knowledge that this invasion, I’m told as I sit down to an hour-long demo of the upcoming PS4 game, cannot be stopped. The game’s title isn’t a challenge to conquer; it’s a statement of inevitability. All you can do is slow the tide while some remnant of humanity can be created and preserved.
What that remnant is exactly isn’t explained, nor is it as important in the immediate sense as avoiding being splattered by an ogre’s fist or foot stomp. Quick evasion is recommended, avoidance not: tackling these titanic threats keeps their focus on you and not on destroying the high walls that protect towns or crushing civilians.
Juggle your time to save as many people as you can
But it isn’t as simple as playing sword-carrying but still flea-sized irritant; the sandbox is expansive, the oversized ogres many, and they’re joined on the battlefield by hordes of regular-sized kin who more easily infiltrate towns and terrorise the populace. In addition, every mission will have numerous side objectives separate from the immediate need to save human life. On-screen icons and an upgradable mini-map buzz for attention, laying out the legwork needed to reach each emergency.
There’s an echo here of Dead Rising’s time management, though Avil’s moveset is more akin to another Capcom icon, Strider, rather than everyman Frank West. The Sentinel can combo sword attacks, wall run, hookshot faraway holds to dash to distant areas and slow down time.
That last is important to incapacitating – or in fact decapitating – ogres; bellying its colourful fantasy hue, Extinction allows you to target and lop off limbs with aplomb. (Though you’re limited to knees or elbows, and they regenerate after a while.) You’ll need to build up an on-screen energy meter before you can deliver the death blow and stop an attack permanently; that said to get to and expose a neck for hacking is a puzzle in itself.
Titans that are a platforming puzzle to solve
There’s many a variety of ogre, clothed in different armour types. Armour blocks you from simply running or leaping up onto a giant’s back, and each armour type has different requirements to break. It may be targeting clasps, or tricking another nearby ogre to slam the earth, creating a shockwave that’d briefly douse the flames on a particularly elaborate shoulder guard of the giant you’ll currently tackling.
And as you puzzle out how to trick the fearsome colossi to giving you an opening, notifications are popping up on-screen detailing another death you could have prevented if you’d been that bit better, faster. Iron Galaxy wants the impossible question to haunt you, drive you: can you save everyone? In early 2018, you can give Extinction your answer.