The PS5 controller adds an extra layer to The Callisto Protocol's brutal violence

Melee combat in The Callisto Protocol
(Image credit: Striking Distance Studios )

The Callisto Protocol is an absolutely vicious and unforgiving game at the best of times, with its emphasis on up close and personal violence as perhaps its strongest feature. It's made all the more intense by clever implementation of the PS5 controller's various features, too. 

We absolutely love the DualSense controller for the haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers, and these two PS5 controller functions are utilized excellently in The Callisto Protocol in ways that we wish more PS5 games would take advantage of. Fortunately, those who pick up Striking Distance Studios' debut survival horror title on the PlayStation platform will get the definitive experience here. 

That's accented most prominently in the meaty melee combat which protagonist Jacob Lee finds himself resorting to as bullets and firearms are scarce, particularly in the early hours of the title. Now, he's no Issac Clarke, so don't expect a Plasma Cutter here, Lee instead faces his foes head-on with extreme predjustice. 

Swing king 

The DualSense's adaptive triggers are used to full effect when using melee weapons, such as the Stun Baton, in The Callisto Protocol. The game does an excellent job of making each swing feel suitably weighty, and this is bolstered by the restrictive tightening in the triggers, in which you feel the force of impact as Lee moves from one side to the other. There's even a subtle shake mid-swing which vibrates to give you the feeling of the electricity surging at its apex. 

What this does is add that small yet immersive touch to the title's many combat scenarios. That's because you dodge with the left thumbstick, of which you can weave left and right boxer-style around the swipes of your foes. The Biophage may look as stupid as the Necromorphs from their spiritual predecessor, but this couldn't be further from the truth. That's because the former throw hands a lot, meaning deliberate strikes and effective dodges are the only way to victory here. 

It's in the upgrading process of your main melee weapon that the adaptive triggers truly pack a month. Without spoiling too much, there's an upgrade early into the game where Jacob 3D prints a feature which causes the Stun Baton to break the arms (if you can call them arms) of the various undead he's swinging against. Through the DualSense controller, you can feel both the whack against the limb and then the heavier damage shot effectively through holding that R2 trigger down. 

Jacob being attacked by an enemy

(Image credit: Striking Distance Studios)

Get a GRP 

Of course, it's not just melee weapons which benefit from the adaptive triggers. Around an hour or so in Jacob gets his hands on a GRP gauntlet from one of the primary antagonists of the title. This kinetic device functions similarly to Kinesis from Dead Space but with one primary difference, instead of using  Kinesis Module like in that franchise, instead you're battery-powered here, so you have to conserve your resources more. 

When lifting things with the GRP (could be anything from an enemy to a saw or a box full of nails) the force required based on the weight on item appears to change. It's a cool touch and really sells you on the force behind a lot of these throws. The same can be said of firing some of the games ranged weapons, including the Hand Cannon and Skunk Gun (pistol and shotgun respectively). Case and point, you really feel the impact behind projectile weaponry in The Callisto Protocol. 

Every step you take... 

The haptic feedback could be even more immersive when taken as a whole, though. The DualSense features localized vibrations of varying strengths to replicate different textures and feelings through the gamepad itself. This can be evidenced in The Callisto Protocol in everything from wading through waist-high sewage to running across a sheet metal floor and everything in between. One of my favorite uses of this feature is how you can feel the power surge of the GRP throughout the entire PS5 controller. Hopefully, it will feel even better on the DualSense Edge when that's released next month. 

Said feedback can even help from a gameplay perspective, too. You will often hear enemies emerge or doors close behind you, but depending on their distance, you can also feel this happening as well. This sense of depth can let you know where your next objective is, which is ideal in an open room or set of corridors where cosmic horrors could eke out of every vent and crawlspace. You can even feel many of the game's death traps as you get closer to them, such as a spinning fan blade, which can be used to mince up your foes, but also Jacob if he gets too close. 

I've been enjoying what I've played so far from The Callisto Protocol as a seasoned veteran of the game's obvious influence, and I think that the PS5 version is definitely the superior experience. If you want to see what's possible from a truly next-gen title that takes full advantage of the newest controller tech, look no further than the horrors that await on Black Iron - the infamous maximum security prison colony on Jupiter's second-largest moon. 

Aleksha McLoughlin
Hardware Editor

Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.