If you've already started playing The Callisto Protocol, you may have noticed that the new survival horror game from Striking Distance Studios can be absolutely unforgiving in its difficulty. Plus, it dishes out some of the most brutal death animations we've ever seen when you muck things up.


We can only imagine how The Callisto Protocol cast reacted when they found that they'd need to act out things like having their faces ripped off, or being decimated from the inside by a slimy space worm. Surely, there were some interesting discussions on-set.

A few months ago at the Gamescom conference, RadioTimes.com spoke to one of The Callisto Protocol developers, Mark James, the Chief Technology Officer of Striking Distance Studios, and you can read on to see what he told us about game's difficulty, and those jaw-dropping deaths.

The Callisto Protocol difficulty explained

"There's three difficulty levels," Mark James told us at Gamescom, when we asked how many options there would be in The Callisto Protocol. And we imagine that some players will be swapping to the easier one fairly soon after starting the game.

James added: "We make no excuses that this is gonna be hard game – you're gonna die a lot. So we try and make even the deaths entertaining. But you're gonna die a lot in our game, because it's gonna be a resource-restricted game."

So what can players do if they want to survive a little longer in The Callisto Protocol and make their experience a little bit less horrible? James told us: "Like most survival horror, you can be searching for bullets. You can be searching for credits so you can upgrade."

He went on to note, "You don't even start the game with all of your weapons – you start as an escaping prisoner – and so you find the weapons as you're scavenging, much like in a real prison scenario; you're creating things, creating weapons out of things that were never meant to be weapons.

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"The Grip [a gadget you'll pick up near the start] was never meant to be a weapon. It's just a way of moving prisoners around and modifying it in a way. The stun baton was never meant to be overpowered in the way that you're utilising. So you're constantly going to be creating these kind of shivs, you're going to create these prison weapons out of the stuff you've discovered."

Over time, then, you should start to feel like the combat in The Callisto Protocol is a little bit more supportive. You'll always be scrounging for resources, but things get a little bit easier once you've collected all of the core gadgets/weapons and given them a few upgrades at the Forge 3D printers.

Why are the deaths so gruesome in The Callisto Protocol?

There's no UI in The Callisto Protocol - your health bar is on the back of your head.
One of the many gruesome enemies in The Callisto Protocol. Striking Distance Studios/Krafton

When we mentioned the "over-the-top kills" that we'd seen in The Callisto Protocol trailers, James grinned. "We call them murder desserts," he said, "which is a great term." Probably not the best kind of pudding available, though.

As for why these deaths are quite so delightfully deranged and dripping in blood-stained detail, James explains: "Even when you die in the game, we want it to be satisfying. And we see this almost as a reward for dying.

"Not that we want people to die, but you're going to die a lot in our game. It's going to be a hard game, you're going to be resource-bound most of the time. So when you do die, we want you to say, 'Oh my god, I've never seen that before. I've never seen that death.'"

Now on a roll, James enthused: "The environmental hazards all have a unique death — you can get caught in the blades, you can get sucked into fans, you can be killed in some very unique ways by the enemies as well. So yeah, we definitely want to feel that... it's something that's slightly kind of tongue-in-cheek but feels very satisfying." Not for the faint of heart, though!

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