When P.T. and Silent Hills were killed by Konami, it was a major loss for the gaming community as a whole. Since this event, I’ve been looking for something to fill that void, but most of the obvious attempts at this have been lacking to say the least. Does the newest contender, Infliction, fill the shoes that Konami left by the front door? Kind of, but they were big shoes to fill.
From start to finish, the quality is a rollercoaster of impressive highs and some of the most disappointing lows I’ve experienced, at times putting Agony to shame. It’s not just one area that suffers, it’s a lot of little things that form into a heaping monstrosity that ends up breaking immersion in one of the spookiest games I have played on current generation hardware. A prime example is how you’ll be strolling along taking in a picture-perfect rendering of a house, only to stumble upon a bathroom that includes a single toilet and a mirror… like I get there are plenty of homes with a half bathroom, but this struck me as overly odd and felt like the room was never really fleshed out completely in development. Even when it’s not a design choice that may just be a regional thing I am not aware of, the visuals are all over the place, almost like this was a mash-up of a few different games that were combined at the last minute. The same can be said for the character models; some made me wish I was wearing my brown pants during my play through, and others look so rough around the edges I was surprised to see them in anything beyond early PS2 games.
One of the game’s greatest strengths is the ability to interact with almost everything, making the home feel like a real location that once housed real people that you’re investigating. The problem is that some objects that you can interact with in one area don’t work in another, without so much as a sound effect signaling that the drawer, switch, or door is broken – it just doesn’t respond. I’m not sure if someone just forgot to go to Costco recently and they are moving light bulbs from room to room, but there is no consistency as to what works and doesn’t work at any given time.
The narrative suffers from the same fate, but on a much smaller scale – the world is bursting at the seams with backstory and lore that easily adds to the tension and build-up, but never cashes in on it in a meaningful way. There are reports found in news clippings and radio broadcasts of abandoned circuses, eerie asylums, and murder mysteries from decades past, but it doesn’t tie into what is haunting the family in any obvious way. When the narrative isn’t being derailed by the mentions of the macabre incidents around the town from past and present, it manages to deliver a deep story dealing with one family’s loss and the subsequent fallout that sends ripples through the years. It even made me question whether the events were actually a supernatural occurrence, something dreamt up by the protagonist to shield himself from his actions, or a mixture of the two.
Much like almost every horror game released in the past decade, Infliction is yet another walking sim (there is an emphasis on this since the game offers no run button) with light puzzle-solving mechanics and the dreaded hide-and-go-seek evasion tactics. The puzzles themselves are few and far between, typically requiring you to use a Polaroid camera to take, resulting in a tangible change to the environment or additional hint to be displayed in the photo. Of course, there’s also simply working your way from point A to point B and interacting with an item that prompts (or doesn’t but we’ll get back to this later) a scripted segment where 9 times out of 10, you die. On the plus side, you have unlimited ammo for the camera, but the downfall to this is you can’t revisit your photos once they’ve been shaken, reviewed, and left on the floor. This becomes annoying as certain puzzles require taking repeated photos, shaking them, and then proceeding.
The camera is also used as a defensive mechanic against the main antagonists, who will stalk you throughout the home akin to those found in the Outlast series. I would love to comment on this, but unfortunately, I was never in a position where I was able to use it properly, as the stalking creatures tend to either come from out of nowhere for a quick instant kill, or linger in a specific area paying not a single iota of attention to the player. The same can be said for the occasional option to hide from the beings that usually seemed preoccupied with wandering about aimlessly making noise, or attempting to bang on an invisible door like the morbidly obese fellow you run into late into the game.
Despite the multitude of issues, I found myself invested in the story and astounding atmosphere, especially once the scares start coming in longer waves around the midpoint of the game. The crying and incoherent jabbering of the enemies left me on edge in a way that few horror games do, even when the interactions fell short. The environmental changes that ranged from the subtle skewed characters in the family photos to the more impacting changes that felt like the Otherworld from Silent Hill spoke to me in a way nothing has since Silent Hill 4: The Room.
Even when the game had its talons deep within my flesh, I kept being jarred back to reality by some of the most frustrating bugs I’ve ever dealt with in my years of gaming. Textures will become muddy and distorted, almost like peering through a stained glass window between you and the screen, which lasted throughout an entire chapter and continued to become problematic here and there. Making matters worse, a few of the scripted segments were extremely delayed, causing me to wander about the home fruitlessly to the point I needed a break, only to return and complete the same action that kicked the next narrative bit loose so I could proceed. The biggest issue was a doozy that was constant throughout my entire play through – upon completing a chapter, I would move on to the next with the complete omission of sound from the game, and was only remedied by rebooting the software from the PS4 home screen.
From start to finish, the title runs a little over two hours if you omit the time it took me to go in and out of the game to regain audio. Once the credits have rolled, there is little to see or do outside of mopping up the collectibles/trophies, or taking in the four post-credit scenes that pay loving tributes to some fan-favorite films that the developers took inspiration from (The Ring, Evil Dead, Hellraiser and The Exorcist). These were enough of an incentive for me to repeat the last segment and sit through not one, but two different sets of credits (that you can’t skip on subsequent runs) just to see the next tribute, although the time spent was often longer than the scene itself.
Shigeru Miyamoto has been quoted time and time again on the internet as saying “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad,” which used to be the case. Recent releases such as Days Gone (My GotY 2019 pick) have proven that if the time is taken to fix some pre-release issues, the overall experience can be turned around down the road. I have faith that Infliction: Extended Cut will join this club at or after launch, and even if it doesn’t, it’s a decent horror experience if you can look past the bugs and uneven quality.
8 out of 10
- Terrifying Sound Design
- Deep Narrative
- Looks Amazing Most of the Time
- Multiple Post Credit Scenes
- Uneven Quality Across the Board
- Regular Audio Loss
- No Running
- Poor AI
- A Missing Sink
Infliction: Extended Cut was developed by Caustic Reality and published by Blowfish Studios. It was released on NS, PC, PS4 and X1. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of Infliction: Extended Cut, check out the official site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.