'Almost half' of The Callisto Protocol's combat will be hand-to-hand (or hand-to-tentacle)

The Callisto Protocol
(Image credit: Striking Distance Studios)

Perhaps this will shock you, but to my eyes The Callisto Protocol looks quite a lot like Dead Space. That's no doubt due to the fact developer Striking Distance Studios is headed up by former Visceral Games general manager Glen Schofield—Visceral being the developer of Dead Space. However, one area where it may differentiate itself noticeably is combat: In a new video released today by Game Informer, Callisto Protocol design director Ben Walker provided a closer look at how players will deal with the game's creepy, squishy enemies.

Players will engage in both melee and ranged combat in The Callisto Protocol, using a variety of different weapons. Unlike Dead Space, which provided what were nominally repurposed engineering tools to slice-and-dice the bad guys, The Callisto Protocol will offer more conventional weapons, all of them upgradeable through tech trees. But while proper guns might be readily available, ammunition is not, so blasting your way through to the end won't be an option. Instead, there will be an emphasis on melee combat in the game, which will include a combo system that will enable a more tactical approach to throwing hands.

"We're definitely leaning into the survival side of things," Walker said. "Our overall tone of our combat is kind of a struggle, right? You're doing whatever you can do to kind of get by and get through. And since we do have, almost half of our combat is melee, [it] means you have to be smart about how you use your bullets. So to that end, we've added our melee combos, when they finish they kind of push the enemy away. So that gives you a chance then to lock on really quick and get a nice clean shot on an enemy."

Bolstering the fisticuffs will be a stun baton that players will carry throughout the game (and which, to be honest, sounds like it can do a whole lot more than just "stun") and the GRP, which functions a lot like Half Life 2's gravity gun: It can pick up enemies, pull them in, push them away, or otherwise mess with them in ways that don't inflict massive ballistic trauma.

Unsurprisingly, Striking Distance is also going hard on blood, guts, and gore in The Callisto Protocol: Bones can be broken in what sounds like a very graphic fashion, dismemberment and gut-stomping is on the menu, and death animations are "as gory and horrific as we can make them."

"A lot of teams still get squeamish when they see them," Walker said, "It's always very exciting, yeah. Even if you see it over and over again in development, some of these, they go all out and it's fun. I know everybody really likes them, I personally, it's one of my favorite parts. Also, it helps us when we're making combat, we can be a little bit more brutal because if losing is a reward to the player in itself, and they get to see a new anim(ation), that's kind of fun, because great, let's make our combat a little bit harder and really get to enjoy everything it has to offer."

It might be a stretch to say that everybody is going to like that level of crunchy-and-sticky, but Striking Distance boss Glen Schofield sure does, as he made clear in our interview with him last week. "We didn't just bite the head off, we picked the top part of the head off—we're trying to be even more gross," Schofield said. "And with the new graphics and the power of these new systems nowadays, you can make that really gross."

In case you missed it, this is what he was talking about:

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little bit interested in trying it out for myself. Which, barring delays, will happen relatively soon: The Callisto Protocol is currently slated to out on December 2.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.