The Callisto Protocol was revealed at The Game Awards last week, and it was a pretty big deal for horror fans. It looks a lot like a new Dead Space, and that’s no coincidence: Its developer, Striking Distance Studios, is headed up by Glen Schofield, formerly the general manager of original Dead Space developer Visceral Games.
In a Q&A session held earlier today on Discord, Schofield and chief development officer Steve Papoutsis—also a Dead Space veteran—made a direct reference to that series, saying the studio is designing it to be “the most terrifying game of all time.”
“We did it with Dead Space, and we’ll do it again,” Schofield said.
The new game takes place in the Black Iron Prison on Callisto, one of Jupiter’s major moons, a location that’s intended to be as awful as possible and give players a sense of being utterly cut off and alone. “Prison is a really scary place, and a prison on Jupiter’s dead moon is terrifying,” Schofield said. “Can’t think of anything more desolate and isolated than that.”
For the same reason, Schofield said The Callisto Protocol will not support co-op play. “There’s a story that we want to tell, and the best way we could tell it was being a singleplayer game,” he explained. “Sometimes when you get into co-op, you don’t follow directions and you’re not following the story as well, and not only that, we wanted this to be—we wanted you to be alone. That’s what makes this really scary.”
Despite the sci-fi trappings, both Schofield and Papoutsis said that one of their priorities is to ensure that The Callisto Protocol is “relatable and plausible.”
“It’s about believability and relatability. So even though we’re a science fiction game set in the future, we still need to keep it grounded in a way that feels plausible—it’s like something that could possibly happen,” Papoutsis said. “When you start playing on those connections, the connection to the characters, the connection to the world, the environment, the setting, the theme, the story, then when we do try to scare you, or create a very gruesome scene, or a tension-filled section, it just hits harder.”
The Q&A session led into the release of a “red band” cinematic trailer for The Callisto Protocol (that’s the one embedded above), which is identical to the teaser seen at The Game Awards until about 1:26, at which point you can enjoy an up-close look at the Necromorph-a-like pushing its sticky tentacles down its victim’s throat and into its eyeball, ultimately turning him into a horrific new necro-mess. I can’t say it adds a whole lot to the story so far, but it sure does double down on the unpleasantness.
The Callisto Protocol is still a long way off—it’s not expected to be out until sometime in 2022—but Schofield said Striking Distance will have more to share about the game “in the coming months.”