You are Avil, a warrior with enough thigh power to run vertically up buildings and a sword sharp enough to cleave through the neck of a towering ogre in one slash. These 150-foot tall monsters are menacing human towns the world over, and it’s your job to decapitate them all before they start kicking down houses. It's horde mode, but the hordes are made up of enormous lumbering jerks.
Avil is remarkably quick and acrobatic. He can double-jump, dash, leap between tree branches and momentarily hover in slow-motion to target ogre limbs and armour pieces with sword slashes. Extinction is a fast-moving game about efficiently dispatching giant beasts before dashing across town to get the next one. The ogres are a threat—they can kill you with one swipe—but they aren’t laborious boss fights. You want to hop across some trees, smash off some thigh armour, chop off a leg, then take advantage of the monster’s kneeling stance to attack the neck. Limbs regenerate after a minute or two, but an ogre with no head stays dead.
The ogres turn up with different combinations of weapons and armor that force you to change attack patterns. The toughest ogre in the PC Gamer Weekender playable demo was wearing a helmet secured by a padlock on his forehead. If the opportunity presents you can leap off a building to attack the padlock, but I ended up using a grappling hook on the monster’s belt to propel myself up its back so I could leap from the helmet, spin 180 degrees in mid air and take a slash.
These moves are very easy to do. Grappling points flash blue as you approach, to tree-hop you point yourself at the next branch, jump and the game does a good job of figuring out what you’re aiming for. The game gives you a generous amount of slow-mo to use before you unleash an armour-smashing attack (and you can buy more time with upgrades). Extinction lets you get to the cool stuff quickly and without fuss, but I wonder if the game can generate enough ogre variants to keep fights interesting for more than a few hours. If dispatching them becomes rote then I worry there’s not quite enough to the rest of the game to stop it from going stale.
There are other supporting elements, however. There’s a story, presented via chats between Avil and the terrified leaders of the towns he protects, and there are little monsters to kill as you rush between ogres. These goblin-like creatures threaten pockets of civilians that you need to save to keep the town alive—the settlement’s health bar is more important than your own. As you level up you can spend points on new moves between missions. The combat system features dashes, air combos, light and heavy attacks. It’s particularly technical, but it’s a fully featured fighting game with a mix of grounded combatants, ranged fighters and flying enemies.
It looks decent too. Avil and the ogres are chunky, colourful characters, though the cheery cartoon tone clashes a little with the gory sight of a massive leg getting severed at the calf and spraying blood over the lurid green grass—it feels like someone’s taken a great bloody lump out of Shrek.
The Dreamworks style visuals at least help it stand out against its closest competitor: Attack on Titan. The sequel hopes to do an even better job of capturing the anime’s dynamic aerial combat which, incidentally, also involves sniping monster necks to get killing blows. Attack on Titan 2 and Extinction are both due out this month, so that gives us plenty to be getting on with as we wait for the best monster hunting game, Monster Hunter World, to arrive on PC this Autumn.