There seems to be a widespread misconception when it comes to horror as a genre of interactive entertainment. And that’s because many individuals who favour this type of games, simply expect to be scared, and nothing more. However, in reality, there is much more to horror than just jump scares and gore, but due to consumer fixation of such elements, developers themselves abandon elements and features, which truly make horror games great. And Carlos Coronado, the developer behind the recently released survival ‘’horror’ Infernium, is one of such developers.
Infernium, both in its description and promotional materials, is a very misleading product. As it is presented to all the potential customers as a sinister and chilling tale of incredible tension, and horror. All the screenshots which could be found prior to the release of the title present mysterious hooded figures and hellish landscapes, which give an impression that Infernium, might just be the survival horror capable of filling the hole, which the delay of Agony has created within the gaming landscape. But in reality, Infernium is far from what it pretends to be.
Within minutes of starting Infernium, one will come to realise that he/she has been sold a clunky puzzle game, under a guise of a survival horror. Yes, the title does look like all of its promotional materials, but the initially hellish landscape quickly turns into an incoherent maze of senseless tunnels and staircases, and the hooded figures turn out to be nothing more than shambolic, floating rags. And while they are nothing more than pieces of cloth, being carried by a gust of wind, they still have the ability to one hit kill you every single time. And they wouldn’t be a problem, if they could be easily avoided – but in game, there are placed in such manner, that they simply cannot be avoided.
Mechanics concerning Infernium’s ragmen can be incredibly tiresome, and enraging. But unfortunately, they are just a tip of this rather distasteful iceberg. As in reality, Infernium is not a horror game which lacks any sort of horror or tension, not a puzzle game devoid of any form of actual challenge, it is simply a compilation of questionable game design, and a ‘worst of’ compilation, of shambolic game mechanics.
In game, you walk at a pace of a half-squashed snail, suspended in molasses, and ironically enough, you are also forced to traverse numerous obstacle courses, and jumping puzzles while barely moving, and being unable to jump. And you could say that it is impossible to complete any obstacle course without jumping, as without doing so one can’t make any progress. And in saying that you’d be correct, but the developer behind Infernium has replaced jumping with a needless, clunky, counterintuitive, and buggy dash mechanic. A mechanic which allows one to dash from one place to another, using quote-on-quote magic.
Dashing between platforms, as stated above, is not perfect. However, this rather unfortunate mechanic does more good than bad in the long run, as it ultimately allows the player to exploit the game through all the bugs and glitches, which accompany it. And this is incredibly beneficial, as without exploits, Infernium as a whle would be simply unbearable. As its ‘non-linear’ design, is ultimately its biggest flaw.
If you ever come across any piece of promotional material regarding Infernium, you will surely be faced with the developer’s boasting relating to the title’s non-linear nature, which supposedly gives it an edge over all the other titles of the genre. But as we have already established, Infernium is in no way, shape, or form a horror game, and its open-ended structure – despite of what developer says – is ultimately its biggest problem.
Infernium’s world is presented to the player as this fantastical and wondrous environment, entailed in Alighieri’an nightmare. But as you might have guessed, it is nothing more than a composition of elements which don’t quite fit, and frankly don’t belong in the same game. On one hand, you have tunnels running through mundane caves, but on the other, you have sunny expansive platforms, which are empty, besides of two or three randomly based objects. In short, there is simply no coherence or structure to Infernium’s level design. It is filled to the brim with dead ends, empty locations, and locales which are nothing more than scenery which can be accessed through the dash exploit.
As a complete package, Infernium, is an absolute and utter mess. It may not be rotten to its core, but it is so incredibly poor in itself that perhaps not even rot may be interested in it. As even mould would struggle to corrupt something so shambolic, and structureless. At the best of times – which occur rarely – Infernium feels and plays like low quality puzzle game, but at its worst, it is nothing short of unbearable and depressing. And while the developer behind the title claims that Infernium is a unique product, it ultimately feels like a collection of assets, which have been randomly pulled out of the bag, and compiled into a digital Frankenstein’s monster.
Infernium comes across as a low quality and low effort product. Yes, it has few bells and whistles here and there, but for the most part, it misses the structure and final polish, which a title of this kind requires. And the visible lack of effort and/or experience is visible throughout, as the title’s UI is on par with $0.99 titles such as Slyde, and it is missing many basic features, even ones as trivial as pause menu. And while it does possess some features such as sensitivity and sound sliders, those are so poorly implemented, that they don’t really need to be in the game.
When all is said and done, all that really has to be said about Infernium is that it is a product crafted by somebody who was so obsessed with the fact that he could make a game, that he didn’t stop to think if he really should. And ultimately, the lack of developer’s self-awareness led to creation of the Frankenstein’s monster, or rather Coronado’s monster, which we know as Infernium. And while some may find this particular title to be intriguing in the very least, then it has to be underlined that intrigue on its own, is not enough to warrant a purchase of Infernium.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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