We Need to Talk About the BONK! Sound Effect in ‘The Callisto Protocol’

Jacob Lee holding the Stun Baton in The Callisto Protocol, overlaid with a cartoon
Striking Distance Studios

The Callisto Protocol” hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. People expected big things from the spiritual successor to “Dead Space” and although the new game looks gorgeous and stars Josh Duhamel and Karen Fukuhara, it’s disappointed players with its punishing combat, vague tutorials and underwhelming story.

But it’s not all bad! Some parts of “The Callisto Protocol” are lots of fun, including the Stun Baton, Jacob’s main weapon throughout the game. Specifically, the sound effect that plays when you hit an enemy with the baton.

See, combat in “The Callisto Protocol” is slow, heavy and solid. When you press the button to attack, Jacob absolutely heaves the baton, slamming it down on a biophage’s ugly, mutated head with all his might. But when the metal, electrified baton hits home on their weeping flesh, it makes a light, hollow BONK! noise that’s completely out of place in a survival horror. Just listen:

Jacob is also armed with a gun and the GRP, which lets him grab enemies mid-air and either pull them towards him or launch them into dangerous terrain, but the baton is the weapon you’ll be using the most. The combat settles into a pattern: dodge side to side to avoid enemy attacks and land your own hits with the baton when you see an opening. Once you’ve staggered an enemy, you’ll get a prompt to whip out your gun and shoot them with a critical hit for extra damage. Even on the game’s easiest difficulty setting, lots of enemies feel like they have too much health, requiring multiple whacks to stagger them and even more to pacify them if you’re out of ammo. That means you’ll be hearing the BONK! a lot during the game’s 10-hour playtime.

It’s especially funny when you install the “Riot Control Swing” upgrade on the baton, which lets Jacob unleash a heavier attack for extra damage that still rings out with the same tinny BONK! The in-game lore explains the baton is used to keep unruly prisoners in line, which doesn’t line up with the comical sound it makes on impact.

The game’s sound design is otherwise excellent. There’s a pervading sense of dread in Black Iron Prison and every rumble, clank and creak is a threat that might be followed by a biophage leaping at you. Gunshots bang, monsters roar and stomping on a downed enemy’s head — which you need to do before collecting their loot — is accompanied by a satisfying squelch. There’s a reason the game’s middling reviews focus on the feel of the combat and not the environment or atmosphere.

But that BONK! is something else…

I would say it breaks the immersion, but honestly? It made me giggle every time I heard it, which helped me get through the game’s other challenges. “The Callisto Protocol” isn’t for everyone, but I hope everyone who plays it is equally delighted by the sound of the Stun Baton. I know I never got tired of it, and I hope the devs never change it.

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