The Callisto Protocol launches to 'mostly negative' Steam reviews because it's a stuttering nightmare

The Callisto Protocol character close-up
(Image credit: Striking Distance Studios)
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Update: The game's director says this problem was caused by human error: "a wrong file being patched." A recent patch has tackled the issue.

Original story: The Callisto Protocol has proven to be a surprisingly divisive release. Things like its combat, endless death animations and narrative have split opinions across the board. Our own Shaun saw the positives as well as the problems, scoring it a 79 in his The Callisto Protocol review (opens in new tab). The one thing many seem to agree on, however, is that the PC release sucks. Hard.

As of writing, the game is sitting at 26% positive reviews on Steam (opens in new tab), though that number was as low as 22% earlier in the day. That seems brutal—and it may be to an extent—but performance issues are making the game close to unplayable for many. The biggest offender is stuttering, something that was noted in the performance side of our review. It's mostly present when loading into new areas or either side of cutscenes and animations. Unfortunately, with the latter two being present throughout a large chunk of The Callisto Protocol, the poor performance is significantly noticeable.

A couple of Steam reviews jokingly refer to the game as "The Stuttering Protocol," while several others have called it "a mess." Even with several people owning RTX 30 series GPUs—and some even 40 series—stutters and frame drops even with ray-tracing turned off are rampant. It looks to be thanks to shader compilation, a common cause of stuttering especially with Unreal Engine 4, the chosen engine for The Callisto Protocol. 

Reviews for The Callisto Protocol are less than favorable right now. (Image credit: Steam)
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It's a real shame to see the game suffering so badly at launch. I'm not much of a horror fan but I was hooked in when I saw a preview at Gamescom, and hopes seemed high for the Dead Space spiritual successor. For now, Striking Distance hasn't acknowledged the issues PC users are facing. The number of Steam reviews continue to grow and, thankfully for the developer, it appears that the positive review percentage is steadily increasing and not all players are having such major issues. It's still firmly sitting at the "mostly negative" rating right now though, and until a performance patch is pushed out I can't see that changing. 

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.