The Callisto Protocol’s director on his return to horror: ‘I don’t know what too scary is’ - The Verge
During Summer Game Fest, The Callisto Protocol director Glen Schofield talks about his new sci-fi horror game and how the genre has changed since the original Dead Space.
When Glen Schofield left Call of Duty developer Sledgehammer Games back in 2018, he needed a break. The game designer, best known as the creator of the seminal sci-fi horror series Dead Space, decided to head out to the desert in Arizona for a little R&R — which for him meant coming up with lots of new game concepts. “I would go out there and draw,” he says. “And while I was drawing, I was coming up with ideas.” He came back with a 40-page book that would ultimately turn into his return to the survival horror genre: a game called The Callisto Protocol.
The game — which is being developed by Striking Distance Studios, a new team under the umbrella of PUBG company Krafton — was first announced in 2020, and last week, a gruesome new trailer was unveiled at Summer Game Fest. (It was lovingly referred to as the “Schofield cut.”) Schofield says he’s been looking to get back into horror for a while, and the urge grew stronger while working on the zombies mode for Call of Duty.
“I just wanted to tell a different story,” he says. “I think of it kind of like Ridley Scott; he did Alien and then came back to do Prometheus. It’s something you like to do. I don’t see a lot of movies that are sci-fi horror because they’re so expensive to make. And it’s probably my favorite genre. So I thought, ‘Let’s see if we can bring it back.’”
The Callisto Protocol is set in the year 2320 on a prison colony housed on one of Jupiter’s moons, where players have to escape just as the other inmates are turning into strange alien monsters. (The setting was originally supposed to be a far-flung part of the PUBG universe, though that’s no longer the case. “The story was going in a different direction,” Schofield says of the change.) This premise, along with a number of other features — like gameplay that involves dismembering enemies and a diegetic interface that includes a health bar disguised as a prison barcode tattoo — drew immediate comparisons to Dead Space. And that’s something that Schofield has come to terms with over the course of making the game.
“In the beginning, I would be like, ‘Oh no, that’s Dead Space,’” he explains. “But after a while, I’m like: I don’t want a HUD, so is that copying Dead Space? I want him to have a stomp — is that copying Dead Space? Maybe. But it’s also my DNA. I didn’t want to just cut everything out. So I got a little more open to the idea the further we got into development.”