Preview: Scathe is a Bloody, Fast-Paced Trip Through Hell

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You may be a warrior nurtured by the Divine Creator, but that doesn’t mean you have to fight with words and good deeds.

Scathe is your name, and death is seemingly your game. Thrown down into hell, you’ve been tasked with tipping the balance, and that means seeking out Hellstones and defeating the Guardians that are protecting them. As you’d expect it’s not going to be easy, but Scathe does give you some lifelines.

Essentially trapped in a maze, you’ll move from zone to zone, trying to locate the Hellstones so you can free yourself from this hell. Some zones are maze-like themselves, and you’ll simply need to find the exit to progress, but others are more arena-like, and you’ll be tasked with killing all enemies thrown at you. In any case, you’re never more than a few seconds away from an encounter, partly because of just how many enemies there are in Scathe, and also because you move at such a breakneck pace.

Imagine DOOM, but even more intense: that seems to be what Scathe is aiming for. Lumbering zombies are the lowest of the enemies here, which can be killed by simply dashing into them, but most are grotesque creatures that are part flesh and part machine. Even worse, they spew bullets at you with their various guns like they’re going out of fashion. This truly is bullet-hell territory, forcing you to act fast and take evasive manoeuvres if you wish to survive.

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In our short time with a preview build of the game, we got our asses kicked as we made our way through typically hellish environments composed of cold-steel, cold stone walls and lava. We took a lot of demons down on the way though, making use of our assault rifle-like weapon’s secondary fire to unleash powerful projectiles whenever we could. And that was fairly often, thanks to them being limited by a cooldown timer rather than having to collect ammo.

Of course, more weapons are available in Scathe, and there’s also magic to obtain on your journey, too. Both will surely come in handy as you charge through hell on your Divine Mission. But ultimately, your efforts may be in vain. You see, Scathe could be considered an arcade game in a way, as it employs a life system. Run out of lives, and its back to the start of the maze you go. Thankfully you can find extra lives as you play, and there are other power-ups, too.

Your best bet at conquering Scathe might be to have a friend by your side. Up to three players can join your game thanks to drop-in/drop-out online co-op, but there’s a caveat: you all share the same pool of lives. So, perhaps don’t invite your mate who’s typically rubbish at first-person shooters. Set to launch on both PC and consoles, crossplay should ensure that you can play with all of your friends regardless of the platform they like to play on, too.

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We’ve only spent a short time with Scathe, then, but it’s made us more excited for the full release. We were sold when we discovered it has a button dedicated to wiping the blood of your screen, to be honest. It looks set to offer visceral first-person shooter action that’s fun to jump into alone or with friends, and it helps that its pretty to look at, too. Well, as pretty as hellish landscapes and grotesque enemies can be, anyway. If you love games like DOOM, you might want to keep your eye on this as we approach its launch at the end of August.

Scathe is launching on PC on 31st August, with console versions following in 2023.