The Callisto Protocol is a forthcoming survival horror game in development at Striking Distance, a studio founded in 2019 by former Dead Space lead Glen Schofield. As a result of that connection, The Callisto Protocol has generated quite a bit of buzz. It no doubt helps that, from what we’ve seen so far, The Callisto Protocol looks very Dead Space.
So what do we know about The Callisto Protocol? Here’s the broad strokes: it’s a “story-driven, singleplayer survival game,” and for a while at least, it was primed to be set in the PUBG universe (Striking Distance and PUBG Studios are both owned by Krafton). It’s a third-person survival horror game, with plenty of aliens and alien/human hybrids. And it’s got a horrifying amount of their saliva.
What is the Callisto Protocol release date?
The Callisto Protocol will release on December 2, 2022. It’s worth noting that Striking Distance Studios opened in mid-2019. If the December release date holds true, and it seems like it will, that’s a quick turnaround for a newly founded studio—albeit one with a lot of proven experience in the genre.
Here’s the latest Callisto Protocol gameplay trailer
Prepare for bodily spillage. In the official gameplay reveal for Callisto Protocol, we’re given a sense of protagonist Jacob Lee’s circumstances: apparently, crash-landing a little too close to the maximum security prison on the ‘dead moon’ of Callisto is enough to earn yourself a sentence.
Jacob’s sentence, experienced here as third-person survival horror gameplay, seems to mostly entail stomping, bludgeoning, and shooting his way through buckets worth of bodily fluids, either human or alien. Or both at once. It’s definitely going to be a squelch-heavy affair.
Here is the Callisto Protocol announcement trailer
The trailer above is how The Callisto Protocol was revealed to the world, back in the heady days of December 2020. It’s a cinematic trailer with no actual gameplay footage, but it makes abundantly clear that The Callisto Protocol will be gory sci-fi horror in the Dead Space mold, complete with eerie flickering corridors, ominous holographic transmissions, and, yeah, an extremely unpleasant looking alien.
A prisoner wakes in a less-than-ideal prison cell, before being attacked (presumably fatally) by the aforementioned alien. Our point of view then shifts to a closed circuit camera witnessing this event, and keeps zooming out until we see the figure watching that footage, who then wanders off to a window overlooking a bleak landscape that is definitely not planet Earth.
Where is The Callisto Protocol set?
It’s set on a dead moon. Specifically, a dead moon of Jupiter called Callisto, which actually exists (opens in new tab) in real life. In The Callisto Protocol an organization called the United Jupiter Company has built a prison colony there called Black Iron. If a privately-owned prison installation wasn’t evil enough, protagonist Jacob Lee wakes up one day to find the prison overrun with hostile aliens.
It’s an exquisitely “eff this shit” situation that sounds as indebted to the Alien films as it is to the Dead Space games. “Prison is a really scary place,” Schofield somewhat redundantly pronounced (opens in new tab) in a 2020 Discord Q&A, before adding, “And a prison on Jupiter’s dead moon is terrifying. Can’t think of anything more desolate and isolated than that.”
(Do you think Dark Souls 2 is the best Souls game? If yes, think of how desolate and isolated you feel, and multiply that by thousands.)
Schofield said during the same Q&A that he wants The Callisto Protocol to be “the most terrifying game of all time (opens in new tab),” which is an incredibly ambitious undertaking, given we live in a world with games like Visage, Silent Hill 2, Murder House, Alien Isolation, and indeed the original Dead Space.
So is The Callisto Protocol part of the PUBG universe or not?
It’s not! Though for a little while, it was. In an August 2021 interview, director Glen Schofield said that The Callisto Protocol was indeed part of the PUBG universe. “The funny thing is, I came in with this story when I went and met with the PUBG people for the first time and started talking about [The Callisto Protocol] and building a studio,” Schofield said. “I presented this game to them, and so what we did was we made it fit within the PUBG storyline.”
It makes a little bit of (business) sense, since Striking Distance Studios is owned by Krafton, the same parent company who oversees PUBG Studios. But much to the relief of some, and probably to the great disappointment of others invested in PUBG lore, that has since changed (opens in new tab).
Glen Schofield tweeted (opens in new tab) in May 2022 that The Callisto Protocol is now “its own story and world. It no longer takes place in the PUBG Universe. It was originally part of the PUBG timeline, but grew into its own world. PUBG is awesome, and we will still have little surprises for fans, but TCP is its own world, story and universe.”
What do you actually do in The Callisto Protocol?
The Callisto Protocol definitely seems heavy on the third-person combat, in both melee and shooting flavors, and with all the splattered viscera you’d expect from a sci-fi horror game. And owing to its Dead Space lineage, The Callisto Protocol website mentions hacking off limbs as a tactical choice.
Otherwise, it remains to be seen what sorts of mechanics surround all that splattering. If the obvious Dead Space parallels hold true, it’ll belong to the survival horror school of “yeah, you can shoot the baddies, but we’re not gonna make it easy.”
Coincidentally, the website does mention being able to use a “gravity weapon,” which is never a bad thing.
Does The Callisto Protocol have co-op?
No, The Callisto Protocol will not have co-op. Dead moon prisons just aren’t scary enough with a friend by your side.
“There’s a story that we want to tell, and the best way we could tell it was being a singleplayer game,” Glen Schofield explained (opens in new tab) on Discord last year. “Sometimes when you get into co-op, you don’t follow directions and you’re not following the story as well, and not only that, we wanted this to be—we wanted you to be alone. That’s what makes this really scary.”
Sounds cool, but I want Dead Space instead, please.
The future of the Dead Space series continues to remain up in the air, but the original game is getting a thorough revamp. The Dead Space remake (opens in new tab) is set to release in 2023.