Fear, shock, disgust; these emotions are our most base and instinctual yet can be both the easiest to provoke and the most exhilarating to experience. It’s no surprise then that the horror genre has become such a saturated scene. For every Resident Evil 4 or P.T. there are countless copies vying to out scare one another, whether through sudden shocks or oppressive atmosphere.
Infliction is one of those clones. Falling into the P.T. ‘haunted home’ sub-genre that seems to have emerged since that game’s cancellation, Infliction tells the story of a family torn apart by tragedy in a once happy home now haunted by its heart-broken matriarch. Traversing a twisted shadow of your former residence, you must piece together your past, brave the horrors that patrol it and bring peace to the tormented soul of your traumatised wife once and for all.
The foundations of Infliction’s narrative promise a tangible horror, one grounded in the tribulations of the real-world, and much of the game’s environmental storytelling touches on some tough subject matter. Pamphlets from grief counselling and AA support groups tell of a family in mourning, turned to drink, drugs and violence, while diary entries and your wife’s paintings further express the irreparable trauma of infanticide and domestic abuse.
While these circumstances set the stage for a truly harrowing and heartrending tale anchored in reality, Infliction finds itself distracted, substituting subtlety for excess and the tangible for the absurd. Frequently jumping between various locations and time periods, Infliction rarely lingers on any one scene long enough to cultivate tension. This disjointedness paired with poor enemy AI often results in you wandering unhindered through admittedly well-rendered, atmospherically lit environments in solving simple puzzles in pursuit of a story that feels increasingly incohesive.
Infliction does, at times, succeed at conjuring an ominous ambience, primarily by way of its audio design; static crackles, scuttling footsteps and echoed whispers all fill the air with a sense of unnerving. Unfortunately, this suspense is spoiled when the source of these sounds show themselves. Uninspired creature design and poorly sculpted character models, from the generic Ringu, inspired ‘black-haired woman in a white dress’ that haunts your home to a grotesque hatchet-wielding fat man that stalks you, ensure all potential terror is dissipated when you come face to face with Infliction’s horrors.
Atop this, when the AI decides to function, death is both avoidable, thanks to light switches and camera flashes that dissolve the spirit, and of little consequence, further minimising the anxiety of being caught that is so central to the operative ‘horror’ of many horror games. This dampened dread is compounded by shoddy canned death animations that feel woefully outdated, comically bad voice acting and inexcusably frequent bugs which consistently hinder your progress and break the immersion.
Mercifully, Infliction is a brief experience. My 3 hours with the game were undeniably entertaining but not for I fear not for the reasons the developers intended. While derivative, Infliction’s trappings hold significant promise yet the gripping exposition, tense audio and suspenseful suggestions that set an enticing tone in the game’s early scenes soon descend into jumbled storytelling and clumsy horror tropes that prove more humorous than horrifying. Despite the Extended Cut’s inclusion of additional story content, a bonus art gallery, and the odd addition of New Game + which promises ‘remixed scares’, Infliction offers no reason to return once you’ve ambled your way to its ending and claimed the easily obtained platinum.
Infliction: Extended Cut PS4 Review
Overall - Not Bad - 4/10
Infliction: Extended Cut, like many others, dwells in the shadow of P.T., telling a tragic tale that sticks close to home. Sadly broken AI, cheap creature design, and jumbled storytelling ruin the initial intrigue and any potential moments of tension, making this a dull and generic horror experience not worthy of your time.
- Detailed environments, atmospheric lighting and stellar audio design.
- Handles heavy topics like abuse and trauma.
- Some compelling environmental storytelling.
- Generic creature design, ugly character models and shoddy animations.
- Laughably bad voice acting.
- Poor AI and countless bugs.
- Messy narrative structure.
- More (unintentionally) humorous than it is horrifying.
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Reviewed using PS4 Pro.