For this preview play session, I was given a guided tour through the world of The Scourge Project by the game's director, Omar Salleh. At the start of our session, Omar provided me with a little background about the game and showed me the game’s opening cinematic. To keep it brief, an evil company (the Nogari Corporation) has been conducting some highly questionable research using a mysterious energy source (called Ambrosia) and an anti-corporation group (the Tarn Initiative) is out to put a stop to it. The game’s four main characters, Stonewall (the leader), Amp (the lady), Mass (the Scotsman), and Shade (the loner), are part of the Tarn Initiative’s Echo Squad and have been sent, along with another mercenary group called Alpha Squad, to infiltrate Nogari and rescue a Tarn Initiative corporate spy, Dr. Reisbeck. As you approach the Nogari island research facility, “sh** gets real,” as they say, and your squad suddenly finds itself betrayed by Alpha Squad and stranded with no way to get home.
Learning why Alpha Squad betrayed you and what’s been going on at the Nogari research facility is only half the story, however. Who the four characters are and why they’re doing what they’re doing is the other, and seemingly more interesting, half. One of the more publicized features of The Scourge Project has been the uniqueness of the four playable characters, each of whom experiences his or her own distinctive set of flashbacks over the course of the game. During the play session, Omar told me that films like “Memento” and TV shows like “Lost” inspired the development team as they were working on this particular aspect of the game’s story. Not only did they want to tell a more-or-less complete story over the course of Episodes 1 and 2, but they also wanted to leave room for future episodes to resolve unanswered questions and bring to light all of the game’s mysteries. Introducing a kind of social co-op element to the game, players will have to talk with their squad mates in order to learn what others are seeing and what it all means. Tragnarion is hoping that players will enjoy and really get into these story elements, even going so far as wanting to discuss their theories about what’s going on with other players outside of their play session.
Story elements aside, The Scourge Project plays like many third-person shooters out there, complete with cover system and “iron sights.” Added to this, are the aforementioned powers of the four characters. There are, in fact, only two power types, a shield that provides protection from incoming enemy fire and a kind of explosive force, but each power has two variants. In the case of the shield, a character can either create a stationary shield that can be used as temporary, in-place cover, or a shield that moves with the character but prevents them from shooting. For the explosive force, the force either radiates outwards from the character, or it travels forward a short distance and then explodes. Thus, each character does not have his or her own unique set of powers, but rather he or she has a unique mix of the variants of the two power types. For example, Shade creates an in-place shield and sends out the explosion, whereas Stonewall’s shield moves with him and his explosion radiates outwards from him.
The Scourge Project's main character (from L - R): Stonewall, Mass, Amp, and Shade
While it’s a little disappointing that there aren’t absolutely unique powers across the characters, the way the powers are mixed does make for some pretty interesting co-op combinations. At one point in the preview, Omar and I had to push our way forward to an enemy position in order to rescue a downed A.I. squad mate. In order to get there, Omar used Stonewall’s shield to provide cover for us while I (playing as Shade) followed behind, shooting enemies and sending out little explosion waves to clear a path. Reviving a squad mate takes a little bit of time, so when we made it to our ally I put up my stationary shield to continue providing cover while Omar revived him. The whole time he and I were undertaking this rescue effort, we were also earning experience.