The Callisto Protocol's Final Transmission DLC Ending Controversy Explained

While finally providing a conclusion to The Callisto Protocol's cliffhanger ending, its Final Transmission DLC has also left many players let down.
BY Amaar Chowdhury PUBLISHED Jul 02, 2023

WARNING: Major Callisto Protocol and Final Transmission DLC Spoilers ahead.It may have been one of the biggest horror game releases in recent memory, but The Callisto Protocol has continued to run into trouble since its lackluster December release. As the debut IP from Striking Distance Studios, the AAA fidelity of The Callisto Protocol had expectations set high until the launch failed to hit that mark. Ultimately, Callisto fell short of many fans of Dead Space who expected a proper spiritual successor. Although Striking Distance has supported the title in the months since its release, the recent Final Transmission DLC's ending could be a sign that the studio is moving on.

Taking place after the cliffhanger ending of The Callisto Protocol saw protagonist Jacob implied to have nobly sacrificed himself, Final Transmission seemed to be set up as a proper conclusion that could even potentially address some of the criticisms the game has received. Under the orders of Dr. Caitlyn Mahler, Jacob heads to a transport ship to escape after he recovers data drives that incriminate the nefarious Commonality of the main game's story. Noticing the layout of Black Iron changing as he retreads it, the player sees Jacob appear to become mentally unstable before he is forced to take down a biophage-infected Mahler near his exit. He somehow escapes on the ship he initially crashed into Callisto on, it would seem, but it turns out to be a huge cliche.

Final Transmission's Ending is a Classic Cliche

Right as players may rejoice at an uncannily happy ending for Callisto Protocol's bleak tone, the truth is exposed as the entire DLC is revealed to have been a dying dream of Jacob's broken body. Hooked up to a gruesome life support setup with his partially eviscerated body lacking all limbs, Mahler has been extracting data through Jacob's CORE link to the surviving Dani. Black Iron Prison, still falling apart in reality, collapses on top of Mahler herself too following her upload of the data that Final Transmission was actually based around.

While there is a chance for The Callisto Protocol to continue following the official death of its main character, the DLC could also be representative of Striking Distance's departure from the IP, which many fans think is more likely. Many did not expect a strong finale, even from this DLC, but it wraps up The Callisto Protocol as a said-and-done project instead of something with room for growth. As such, the prospect of The Callisto Protocol 2 seems very unlikely.

Why The Final Transmission's Ending is Controversial

An unexpected conclusion to say the least, the ending of Final Transmission has left fans of Callisto unhappy with the revelation that the entire expansion was basically nothing more than a dream, basically. "It was all a dream" is arguably one of the most disliked tropes in storytelling, so the general disappointment is not surprising. Combined with the fact that the protagonist truly did perish after the base game's cliffhanger ending, some fans have even theorized that there were originally much more hopeful plans for the game that ended up scrapped to move on.

A letdown for fans of the survival horror genre it was meant to honor, The Callisto Protocol serves as a perfect example of the risks for new IP. Circumstances have been less than ideal for the title following its controversial reception, but in an industry where remasters, remakes, and safe plays seem all too common, The Callisto Protocol does deserve its flowers for trying to establish something new. Perhaps it didn't work, but it's clearly not for a lack of trying.

The Callisto Protocol is available for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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