Infliction: Extended Cut Review – A Death Within A Death
Developed by Caustic Reality
Published by Blowfish Studios
Available on PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Switch, and PC
I can’t say haunted house games are my favorite. They are inherently a little absurd. A paranormal being, reaching out from the other side of the abyss to prank you with some conveniently timed jumpscares and flickering lights. They resort to this because if the ghost used its real power—apparent control of time and space—you would probably die immediately. And that’s no fun. Who wants to keep seeing a game over screen? Infliction: Extended Cut, however, negates some of the issues by simply making your repeated deaths part of the process. A creative solution, but much like most of this game, I don’t think it works that well.
The premise of Infliction is that you are a man in a haunted house. The twist is that it is your house. The first act of the game is actually really good. So good, in fact, I’m going to give the score a whole extra star for this part. Your wife tells you to run home, because you forgot to grab the airplane tickets. As you drive home, you pass a terrible wreck, a car wrapped around a tree. Arriving home, you search all through the vacant house for the tickets. Finally you get them, and the paranormal stuff begins. A dead woman is haunting you. Spooks galore. You know the deal. You frantically make it back to your car, floor it out of the house, and subsequently get in an accident. That wreck in the beginning was you. You’ve been dead all along.
It’s soon revealed that Infliction takes place in some sort of elaborate punishment purgatory. Not only that, but the ghost is also your late wife, and you are the one who killed her. Now you’re trapped in her world, where the game makes it painfully obvious that she is the one in control. You need to find out how to solve this grudge or escape the Black Lodge, and if you encounter her, she kills you. No way around it. I frankly felt little sympathy for the main character, as it’s revealed that he not only killed his wife, but was also a terrible abuser. Silent Hill addresses themes of characters trying to make up for past sins, and it works extremely well. But in Infliction the main character is silent. There is no emotional connection between him and the world around him.
Infliction’s biggest weakness is how little you can do. You walk about 1/10th the speed of a normal able-bodied person. You certainly cannot run into a closet and hide, and even if you did, your wife’s ghost would only be pretending to let you hide because we’ve already well established that this is entirely her domain. Eventually, you get a camera that can briefly stun her. But that too often wouldn’t work and I would again be on the receiving end of The Grudge’s spinning tornado DDT.
Admittedly, Infliction did get a few good scares out of me. The house is extremely dark and the feeling of powerlessness against the nemesis character makes for some stressful wandering around. But seeing the same execution animation every few minutes definitely got less scary as the playthrough went on. It did have some of the same reminiscent vibes as P.T., except without as much cinematic work put in. But the atmosphere was certainly stressful, and I will give them that.
Infliction is the typical walk-around-a-spooky-house style game. In this regard, it adds almost nothing new to the table. Again, bargain bin P.T. You walk around the house, click on various objects, open doors, close them too, and occasionally hide from the ghost in a closet. The problem is that movement is incredibly sluggish. Even with the sensitivity turned to max, I couldn’t rotate the camera fast enough to see her coming. My guess is that the house you’re in is so small they needed some way to artificially extend the duration. It’s only like a three or four-hour game.
There are, however, a few mechanics that require some thinking. They could almost be considered a puzzle. The camera, which thankfully in the Black Lodge has a lot of rolls of instant film, does come into play as a more than Raid grudge spray. A few times you leave the house, or rather the house transforms, and you find yourself in some weird corridors with areas that require you to take a picture of them to see hidden text or keys. But forcing the player to watch the same instant-film-being-developed animation because they have to take a picture of the 20 doors in this hall is just too much. As standard for haunted house games, the main task with Infliction is just searching all the drawers and cabinets for whatever item you need to get the story going.
The only innovative thing Infliction does, and I use “innovative” about as loosely as you possibly can before it becomes exnovative, is that there are probably 500 various items you can pick up and examine in the house. Yes friends, you may stumble across a pile of two dozen videotape boxes, and individually pick up and rotate in the screen a la Skyrim. Of course, 99% of these are useless items. But you may pick up these useless items and examine them to your heart’s content.
I was totally convinced that this was because Infliction was a VR game and that I was merely playing the non-VR version, just because of how bizarre this feature is. Surely this is the quick fix for console players, and in the VR version you can throw pots and pans at the ghost or accidentally knock over a pile of books, alerting the ghost to your presence. Unfortunately, this is not true. Insofar as I can tell, there is no VR mode.
Infliction certainly has stuff going for it. A great atmosphere pulls a lot of weight in a walking simulator. And the graphics and sound were quite good too. Take a look at the steam reviews and you’ll find a ton of people who had a great experience. But for some reason, the game felt off. Infliction is missing something and I can’t quite figure out what. I almost felt that this started as a tech demo, kind of like Goat Simulator, where they just went ahead and turned it into a full game. If that’s the case, good on them for spending the time making it into a quaint little P.T.-style game. If not, well. Practice makes perfect.
Standard horror walking simulator content. Not interesting, but admittedly very polished. Should have been VR.
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