Another horror title clearly inspired by P.T., Infliction ends up superior to many of its competitors though not without plenty of flaws of its own.
Developer: Caustic Reality
Publisher: Caustic Reality
Release date: 02 July, 2020
As far as horror games go, Infliction is far from the bottom of the barrel. The atmosphere is often particularly creepy, even though you’re often travelling through the same, slightly altered environment that you’ve seen multiple times before. Unfortunately, outside of that atmosphere, much of the experience is subpar, not only on the most important element of maintaining a steady feeling of dread, but also regarding technical issues, some of which may very well be intentional in their design that do more to frustrate than unsettle.
I’ve Walked These Halls before
Infliction wears its inspiration so openly that within minutes of playing I was already picking up a heavy P.T. vibe that stayed with me throughout the experience. For the most part, you’re playing a walking simulator in a mid-sized home that becomes increasingly disturbing as you progress. Radios are commonplace and announcements are frequently broadcast regarding troubling events that may or may not be directly related to the situation at hand. Oh, and don’t forget about the crying baby.
That said, Infliction doesn’t just feel like a straight clone either. The disturbing atmosphere is on-point and tends to be the most effective tool for keeping you on the edge of your seat. On more than one occasion, I found myself scanning the area for something awful only to conclude that it must have been the house creaking and groaning again.
Unfortunately, the entities that hunt you bounce between rare moments of being creepy and the more common moments of being purely irritating. Scripted events are decent enough, though the poor animation will catch your eye for being cheap and is likely to jar your immersion. The greatest flaws here come when a monster is chasing you around though. As a horror veteran of many titles over the years, I can state with full confidence that death often feels like you’ve been cheated; you can hide when you hear a monster approaching, though you’ll often find yourself in situations where it’s impossible to escape and doomed to being murdered once again, always with the less than stellar animation, which is made even worse by these monsters frequently glitching in one way or another. Plenty of these deaths are scripted as well, being used as a method of moving you from one segment to the next. I suppose the silver lining is that death has only one consequence: wasting your time as you make your way back from the most recent checkpoint through to location to the spot where you died. Progress is otherwise not lost.
Outside the Walking Simulation
I struggle to find an aspect of the gameplay that I enjoyed in Infliction. Horror fans are likely to find much that’s familiar; although several elements of horror are put together decently enough, nothing jumped out at me as particularly innovative. In horror, the story is one of the most important parts for me and this title felt far more like a skillfully designed hide-and-seek indie horror than one of the recent greats like Outlast or Resident Evil 7 (both of which are currently cheaper due to the Steam sale at the time of this review). Each segment is built around you making your way through the area to find an item that’s needed to perform a ritual once they’re all collected. Although the setting has some interesting details, they’re few and far between and feel far more like a backdrop than an integral part of the experience. In other words, I would’ve liked to see more variety and depth in the story than to be able to pick up every single can individually in cupboards throughout the house, especially since the latter never provides any benefit.
Infliction isn’t a bad horror experience. I found myself going back to it until the story was complete even with the aspects of it that made it miss the mark for me in several ways. I don’t see it blowing the minds of any horror veterans; you may very well end up enjoying it though it’s an experience similar to those we’ve already had in the past. You’ll also want to be ready to run into a few hitches along the way. At the end of the day, I’d only recommend this one to those looking for a new horror experience that has already blown through the more innovative and deep titles out there, though I’d still suggest picking it up when it’s on sale.