Horror games are becoming more common-place nowadays, especially with the remakes of classic games such as Resident Evil 2 at the forefront of gaming. However, in my opinion at least, a truly original horror game is difficult to find. There’s only so many subgenres and tropes that can be taken advantage of. Enter Caustic Reality, an independent game studio based in Australia, made up of a single developer (Clinton McCleary), teamed up with publishers BlowFish Studios. Infliction originally dropped on Steam not long before Halloween 2018. But we’re not here to just talk Infliction. I had the absolute pleasure of getting to play on Xbox One just before it dropped earlier this year. Infliction: Extended Cut is currently available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with plans for it to release on both PC and Switch later this year.
So, what is Infliction: Extended Cut?
Infliction at its core is paranormal, supernatural horror. The tropes of this, however, have been turned on their head and evolved into something much more real. Instead of just giving us a common old ghost story or haunted house, Infliction introduces us to a man haunted by his own tragedies.
When the game starts, we take the place of a husband, simply looking for forgotten plane tickets. While exploring the house, memories are picked up along the way, revealing more about the family. Come the end of this chapter however, these happy memories are no more. This is what sets Infliction apart from the get-go. By the end of the first chapter, it is established that the protagonist’s wife has been murdered, with heavy implications that the protagonist is the murderer.
How does Infliction differ from other horror games?
Thanks to games like Outlast and Amnesia, the style of running and hiding in horror games has become a very prominent trope. Infliction takes this but puts an extra spin on it. Yes, you can just run through the game doing the bare minimum, but by doing that, you miss out on a huge chunk of the story. The collection of memories is what further develops the story and gives us an insight into the lives the family had lived, as well radio broadcasts.
What sets this apart, in my opinion, is what the memories actually are. Through the memories, we learn that the family’s new-born son died, and that both parents developed addiction problems. From the radio broadcasts, almost all news, we learn that it was believed by authorities that before her murder, the wife was being abused. Through memories in the form of diary entries, we learn the true extent of the abuse and addiction that tears the family apart.
Taking all of this into account isn’t the only thing Infliction excels at, however. Despite all the implications, confirmations and memories, one aspect is left without a clear answer, The true fate of the child is not actually revealed. Authorities had taken the mother into custody and questioned her, however, we are never given a definitive answer on this throughout the main story. Was the child murdered?! Did the child just die in his sleep?! Despite heavy suspicions, we don’t actually know.
The technical stuff
On the graphics front, you can really tell this is an indie game. That’s not a bad thing though, especially when it comes to horror. A muted colour palette is well used to create and build up tension, and a lack of light (save for your torch) adds emphasis to the underlying atmosphere of terror.
Gameplay is simple enough, only needing basic controls for movement and interaction. There is no fighting, and puzzles are number based. There is nothing complicated about this game at all, with emphasis on truly letting the story play out and run wild.
Like most indie games, Infliction: Extended Cut is on the shorter side of things, and can be completed in less than 2 hours on a full achievement hunt run. Upon completion, access IS granted to a New Game + mode, which allows you to keep your memories and camera BUT changes things up with the puzzles. In New Game + mode, the spirit also spawns much more frequently. In the base game, you have 4 minutes real-time to explore before she spawns. My experience of New Game + had her spawning in random locations almost immediately, and she can be heard throughout the house. New Game + poses a much bigger challenge, which gives Infliction: Extended Cut a huge level of replayability.
Horror is my bread and butter. It is my area in all walks of media. I’ve seen it all and experienced every trope there is. I did not think a new horror game could come along that wasn’t just a copy of some other game, or even with inspiration taken from movies and tv.
Infliction: Extended Cut was a figurative breath of fresh air for me. Although it re-uses the same format of many an indie horror game before it, the route taken to make it original is well executed. I’ve already done multiple playthroughs, including an achievement run. I won’t lie, New Game + is insanely difficult for me. I’m not good at puzzles, but having all memories in this mode has added such a huge level of difficulty. That extra difficulty also adds some motivation though and has me wanting to keep trying until I have mastered the game.
In my opinion, Infliction: Extended Cut is one of the best recent horror games I have come across. Between the story and the enjoyment I got from the puzzles, this game presented a well-rounded and well-developed survival atmosphere. Also, while avoiding spoilers… The multiple endings are the perfect homage to some of the greatest horror films ever made. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with a modern horror game.
For me, this game is a huge hit and a fantastic experience for any horror fan to experience.
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