It’s summertime, sure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t scare the hell out of ourselves like it’s October. Infliction: Extended Cut ($19.99, Caustic Reality/Blowfish Studios) sets out to do just that, this time on Nintendo Switch. Does it work well? Does it use atmosphere or music or just plain ol’ jump scares to get the job done? Let’s discuss this!
‘Infliction: Extended Cut, the psychological horror game exploring the darkness haunting the remnants of a suburban family from developer Caustic Reality and publisher Blowfish Studios, delivers frights to Nintendo Switch today.’
‘An enhanced and expanded version of the acclaimed original release, Infliction: Extended Cut adds terrifying new content and additional endings. Return to the nightmare in New Game Plus mode, which features remixed scares, new puzzles, and a host of other surprises that bring additional layers of depth to the mystery.
Delve into the eerie residence of a tragedy-wrecked household and scour for clues to uncover the truth of what happened to the family that once called it home. Investigate its halls and chambers for evidence while avoiding the watchful gaze of the evil spirits that lurk within.
Face the haunting entities as a last resort, firing off-camera flashes and manipulating sources of light to momentarily halt their pursuit. Seek refuge in closets and under beds in an effort to do whatever it takes to survive encounters with the otherworldly creatures.
Soak up a dark, atmospheric story that combines real-world concerns with supernatural tension. Uncover a narrative bolstered by dynamic special effects and scares for an unforgettable experience that fuses the paranormal with issues that hit close to home.’
The visual style of this game is clear from the time that you first start up the title. It’s obviously trying to fill the hole that P.T. has left inside of us. Yeah, sure, the Outlast titles and Resident Evil 7 did some work in that category, but that’s old news at this point. Kudos to Caustic Reality for keeping a good thing going. The only downside to it is that it’s not near as refined as a title like Resident Evil 7. But if we’re being fair, the team and budget are much smaller. So the photorealistic aesthetic here is the level I would expect it to be at for a smaller team. I also experienced frame drops when playing in handheld mode, but if you like playing on the go, it’s more than satisfactory.
With regards to the sound design in this game, it’s terror, pure and simple. From the eerie sounds setting the mood to the exceptional voice acting. The game is also very well mixed as far as my ears could tell. I had surround sound on and the game reminded me that it’s got great sounds recorded for it. I believe the expression is “crapped my pants”. While I definitely stuck with it to fully immerse myself with it, I also played this game in handheld mode. The sounds recorded for this game are all full and intact if playing in handheld mode. I recommend using headphones to get a more immersive experience. Even ones that are standard stereo are going to get you deeper into the game. You really need to cut the sound off from your outside world.
Infliction seems to be a first-person horror/adventure game with some puzzles thrown in. At the start of the game, you’re given reason to go home by your wife, so you head there. Once home, you start to walk around and are given clues to the answer the horrors that start to come up. The clues in the house are placed out of order as it were. You’ll need to find them, but if you find something useless too early, you’ll need to head back to where you remember seeing it. Otherwise, just backtrack to rooms you’ve already visited and see about finding that item again.
The idea is to piece the clues together in order to unlock the mysteries of the home. The clues are hidden practically everywhere, you really need to search every cabinet, every drawer, every closet. This might mean also examining a rather unextraordinary piece forward and backward or open it up to discover its secrets. The game does tell you the next objective, but it’s usually pretty vague and it takes a bit of detective work.
The rooms themselves are also something you need to try to open in a certain order. I’m uncertain if the game unlocks doors once you’ve found what you need to find in terms of clues. What I am certain of is that sometimes doors open up when you try them again later, with no key required. This is something the game doesn’t exactly tell you outright. Just make sure you keep trying doors that you hadn’t before as you may miss something that you’d have to go all of the way back for. Assume nothing. The puzzles in the game are sometimes finding things like padlock combinations and other basic puzzles. So don’t think that all doors will open on their own. If they need a code, then they need a code.
The way the gameplay works is simple. You start the game with a flashlight, making you think the game is more of a hide and seek style of horror. After you do certain in-game tasks, you’ll also receive a camera. The camera works very similarly to how the camera in Fatal Frame works. In Fatal Frame, the Camera Obscura can catch the spirit on film and take them away from our world. In Infliction, you’ll use the camera’s flash to make the spirit disappear for the immediate time. Sometimes it’s easier or more fun to do a bit of stealthing around and hide behind or under things until the ghoul has passed.
The flashlight doesn’t do much in way of scaring off spirits as it isn’t a sudden flash illuminating the whole room. In fact, the flashlight can’t quite see all of the way down halls. However, the camera can show you on the print that there are scary things not visible to the naked eye. If you’re wondering about light switches and scaring off ghosts that way, it does work. You can always run over to a switch and activate the room’s light. If you do this before the spirit gets too close, the ghost dips out.
The original Infliction didn’t have much to offer in way of returning to the game. If you liked playing it, then sure, but honestly once you know the story, you know the story. There were a couple of endings that maybe made it worth playing again. What the Extended Cut brings to the table is a handful of additions that make you want to go back for more. This extends the life of the game and makes paying the $20 even more worth it. In Extended Cut, you of course have plenty more add on content baked right into the game, no download required. The extra content to the story also adds additional endings. This means you may need to play the game a handful of times more to really get it all. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many endings there are in total or how to get specific endings. That’s for you to keep exploring and find out, that’s the fun!
There is also now a New Game Plus option after you’ve completed the game. The game has new puzzles thrown in as well as changes to the scares in it. There are other addons in there as well that I probably didn’t discover all of or want to spoil for you. I would say maybe play the main game a few times and then play the New Game Plus a few times. Last of all there are also fun little easter eggs that you can come across that show off their inspirations and pay homage to the horror genre. It may be worth playing through it thoroughly to make sure you’ve found them all. Since the game takes place in the ’80s, Caustic Reality has a lot of retro jammed in there.
This game is pretty tense. While there are just enough baddies roaming around to make the game scary, it isn’t overwhelming to play. It’s just found the perfect balance of exploration and fear. Those of you who can’t handle even the slightest scare in video games should avoid this. Those of you who finished Gone Home and are okay with a bit more intensity will be at home with Infliction: Extended Cut. I reviewed the Switch copy and having it on the go works best with headphones or if you don’t get scared by the game in the first place and just like to play it on a trip.
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