Let’s be straight here. Indie-centric first-person horror games aren’t exactly the exciting prospect they once were. The glutton of similar games; where you wander a location, everything is dark and things jump out at you, has dented the impact and quality.
However, every so often something special comes along that delivers not just on the scares front but with story, visuals, sounds and lasting impact. This is Infliction: Extended Cut, a first-person horror game from Caustic Reality.
A mysterious and detailed experience that is genuinely scary without needing to have things constantly jump out at you. That alone, the ability of Caustic Reality to craft chilling and uncomfortable atmosphere, makes this a special release already.
You play as Gary Prout, who finds himself trapped within a house that holds the ghost of a woman named Sarah. It appears as though she died a violent death and now wanders the halls. Your job is to explore the house and find a way to put her spirit to rest all while uncovering the truth about what happened here.
It’s sounds like standard horror-fare but the detail in the story is purposely being glossed over to avoid spoilers. Let’s just say the game will end up dealing with heavy subjects like alcoholism, drug addiction, postnatal depression, abuse, infant death and more. As you explore, find clues and complete puzzles more and more of the story is unveiled and it is horribly thrilling.
The majority of the game is set in the house but through the clever use of time loops, it constantly feels fresh. The bedroom that you’ve been in and out of before might look completely different now and so on. Taking your time to explore every inch, especially as the visual detail is so rich and realistic, is encouraged and welcome. You’ll be taking your time no matter what as you’ll also be trying to avoid the ghost of Sarah.
Now, it’s here that Infliction: EC could have really fallen down. These games tend to demand you run and hide from the ghost. Waiting ages until it leaves only for you pop out and get seen again are frustrating experiences. The hiding is here but the ghost is different, in that she is used so sparingly, you can go for ages without ever running into her. Not only that, should she ‘kill’ you, she’ll not reappear for some time afterwards ensuring you never feel like you’re losing a lost of progress. You can also banish her for a short amount of time using light too.
Not only does this mitigate the frustration that could be felt by this sort of thing, it keeps her scary. You can spend minutes wandering the halls undisturbed aside from the eerie sounds and sights and then you see her in the distance by a door. It’s frightening, especially when she sees you.
She’ll run at you and you have a very short window to hide. If she does get you, you’ll be treated to a jump scare that loses its effectiveness as it goes on admittedly. However, there are times where her getting hold of you is scripted to progress the story. A nice touch as there’s often no clue that it’s the case, you’ll just think you failed again.
As the game goes on, its length between 3 and 4 hours, thinks get darker and more twisted in an unexpected way. Yet it never loses its grip. This is an edge of seat play and one of the most effective horror games played in some time.
It’s got great replay value to as certain events can be missed so there are new scares to be experienced on a second playthrough. As well as a handy new game plus option, chapter select and bonus behind the scenes feature adding more meat to the bones.
Infliction: Extended Cut (Xbox One X)
The Final Score - 8/10