The PlayStation Plus monthly games for October 2023 are now available. As confirmed last week via the PlayStation Blog, this month’s selection includes an intense survival-horror experience that is the perfect PS5 game to play ahead of Halloween.
The Callisto Protocol is the headline title this month and is being offered to PlayStation Plus subscribers of any tier alongside Farming Simulator 22 and Weird West. Unless you have a real hankering to start harvesting some crops though, then The Callisto Protocol is definitely the game I recommend playing first of the three.
There’s no denying that the divisive horror game has its issues — my colleague Tony Polanco touched upon them in his The Callisto Protocol review — but it still has its moments, and I’ve seen more than a few people argue it’s an overlooked PS5 game that shouldn't be instantly dismissed based on its lukewarm reviews.
Now included as part of the PlayStation Plus monthly lineup there’s really no excuse not to give Callisto Protocol a shot, especially if you’re in the mood for a game that will have you dropping your controller in fear over the Halloween season. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time (or desire) to play right now, be sure to still add it to your game library before Nov. 5 so you can download it at a later date.
Why you should give The Callisto Protocol a chance
Released in December 2022, The Callisto Protocol was pitched as a spiritual successor to the iconic Dead Space franchise. Firstly because it’s a third-person sci-fi survival horror game that pits you against a large horde of deformed enemies, but also because it was directed by Glen Schofield the creator of the original Dead Space.
In The Callisto Protocol, you play Jacob Lee, a deep-spacer trucker, who crash lands on Jupiter’s moon, Callisto. But rather than being recused by the people who find him, Jacob is instead thrown into Black Iron Prison, a maximum-security penitentiary on the moon’s hostile surface. Soon afterward, the prison descends into chaos when inmates begin transforming into mutated creatures. And Jacob must now escape Black Iron, while also uncovering the dark secrets buried underneath the surface of Callisto.
Developer Striking Distance Studios took a big swing with the game's combat design opting to focus it around melee strikes and dodging enemy attacks like a boxer. It’s a system that is interesting in concept, but fundamentally flawed in execution. All too often you’ll end up being struck by attacks you couldn't see coming, or getting disorientated as Jacob takes a swing at a monstrous foe located entirely off-screen.
You do get access to an assortment of firearms as well, but it’s fair to say that combat is not the Callisto Protocol’s strong point. Fortunately, the narrative is significantly more engaging. And even if the big twists are fairly easy to see coming, the sense of atmosphere and rapidly escalating tension will make you want to push through to the end. However, I recommend playing on easy mode so you can breeze through the combat encounters without getting too frustrated.
The Callisto Proctol remains one of the best-looking PS5 games to date, so even if you don’t have much of an interest in a survival horror experience, it’s worth giving it a try just to marvel at its stunning graphics and visual design. For all its faults — and it does have several that are hard to forgive — it’s still a great showcase of the power of Sony’s current flagship console.
Don’t expect an experience as consistently high-quality as the Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 remakes released earlier this year, but if you can tolerate some wonky combat, you might find The Callisto Protocol worth the relatively brief 7 to 10 hours it should take you to complete on a first playthrough. And even if it doesn’t ultimately manage to grab you, its inclusion in this month’s PlayStation Plus collection means you can give it a shot without having to fork out anything extra.