Say what you want about The Callisto Protocol, its grimdark atmosphere hits the mark. This is true everywhere, but nowhere is it easier to see the attention to detail than in The Callisto Protocol’s toilets which, for my money, might be the worst in gaming.
As Andy Kelly wrote for PCGamer in 2016, Toilets reveal something about the person who built them, and you can tell a lot about the developer’s approach to world-building by the toilet they build. With that in mind, there’s no quicker way to get the vibe of the foul and dangerous Black Iron Prison than by taking a look straight into the bowl of its foul, foul toilets. If toilet design reveals something about their developers, there’s an art team at Striking Distance Studios that needs a cuddle and a snack.
I’ve seen foul toilets before. I’ve been to Download Festival. I’ve never seen anything like this. A hellish feculent soup fills the toilet bowl of every bathroom I’ve visited so far, with toilet rolls tossed in for good measure. None of these toilets are usable, and each would warrant an emergency house call from Nick Knowles and the lads of DIY SOS.
“Who would do this?” I thought to myself, dry heaving at the sight of my first Callisto toilet. “Surely there has to be a better way?”
In video games, artists seem to flirt with the eldritch horror of an unclean toilet rather than throwing themselves fully at it. GTA 5’s Trevor, a character so unhinged you can’t imagine him dutifully bleaching his toilet bowl each week, still manages to keep it vaguely clean, even as the toilet itself is crowded out with porn mags, crushed beer cans (?) and other detritus.
Black Iron Prison, meanwhile, has totally irredeemable toilets. After this, the body horror that falls upon the prison’s inmates seems like no big deal. It feels almost like it was deserved. “If you can’t be trusted to keep a clean toilet,” I found myself musing. “Maybe this is for the best.”