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INFRA Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although the story never fully gripped me and too much of the game is spent in boring underground locations, I still had a lot of fun puzzle solving my way through INFRA's lengthy campaign. There's more than enough content here for a single game, so I'm curious to see how big the second chapter ends up being. But even if you never get to the forthcoming episode, INFRA offers plenty of bang for the buck. Rating: 71%
INFRA
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  • Review Score:

  • B
They say you should never judge a book by its cover. If Resident Evil and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night taught me anything, it's that you can say the same thing about voice acting. So many otherwise great games have fallen apart the moment the characters open their mouths for the first time. That's the case with INFRA, the debut game from Finnish developer Loiste Interactive. No matter how compelling the story is, the illusion is broken every time somebody delivers a poorly performed line.

You play Mark, a fairly typical structural analyst working at National Consulting Group. He's been tasked with surveying a nearby dam and documenting all of its problems. As it turns out, the facility has long been abandoned and is in much worse shape than originally suggested. What this ordinary analyst doesn't realize is that he's about to uncover massive corruption and danger around every corner.


Normally this type of set-up leads into a big adventure full of aliens or zombies. You get sucked into a convoluted science fiction story that involves sneaking around hideous monsters. But that's not where INFRA goes. Mark doesn't start out as a boring structural analyst and then become an alien-killing badass, he simply surveys the damage and uncovers a much more grounded and realistic conspiracy.

Although you may not know it at first, INFRA is little more than a series of large, elaborate puzzle boxes. Right from the jump, Mark has to figure out how to collect his gear and navigate the labyrinthian hallways of a modern office building. This is just a warm-up for his field duty, which sees Mark trying to navigate his way around the crumbling facility.

It probably won't come as much of a surprise that things don't go as planned and Mark gets stuck at the old abandoned dam when the elevator breaks. This kind of thing happens a lot, with Mark constantly forced to figure out new ways to solve simple problems. A lot of his time will involve reconnecting the power and figuring out how to open locked doors. This involves a good deal of picking up helpful items and exploring every inch of the impressive landscape.

INFRA (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Chances are you've seen a lot of these puzzles before. It never gets as intricate as what The Witness was trying to do, instead opting for realistic solutions that, for the most part, make a lot of sense. You'll hunt down wires, plugs, batteries, key cards and anything else that will help turn the power on and clear a path. These puzzles become more elaborate as Mark digs deeper into the dam and surrounding areas.

Between the shiny office building and the lush forests, I was initially taken by INFRA's environments. Everything is beautifully detailed and it all looks fantastic. Unfortunately, my excitement for the surroundings tapered on a bit when I realized just how much time I was going to spend underground. Too much of the game takes place in dark and boring tunnels and warehouses.

As much as I enjoyed its non-violent approach, part of me was always waiting for something big to happen. Maybe it's because I've been groomed by other games to expect the other shoe to drop at some point, but I was never fully satisfied with how the story played out. I think a big part of the problem is that most of the information is conveyed through audio recordings and difficult to read notes. Even when things are at their most intense, Mark is calm and rarely lets you know how urgent the situation is.

INFRA (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It doesn't help that the juicy bits of information are few and far between. While I can't fault the game for giving us a lengthy adventure to solve, it often felt like it needed more story beats to tie everything together. And this unsatisfied feeling is made even worse when you get to the cliffhanger ending, setting up another episode. To the developer's credit, the next chapter in the story will be free to people who own INFRA, but that didn't make the ending any better. The game is long enough to feel like a whole experience, not just half of the journey.

I suspect I would have a rosier outlook on the next episode if this set-up had a more exciting story. Don't get me wrong, there are compelling bits and pieces for those willing to put in the work to understand what's going on, but it's incredibly low-key when compared to similar games. If anything, this is more about the puzzle solving experience, and it gets most of that stuff right.

Visually, INFRA reminds me a lot of the Half-Life games. Perhaps there's a reason for that, since the first-person adventure started out as a Source Engine mod project. While some of the locations look better than others, I was impressed with what Loiste Interactive was able to accomplish on their first time out. I just wish the developers could have taken puzzle-making tips from another popular Valve franchise -- Portal.

Although the story never fully gripped me and too much of the game is spent in boring underground locations, I still had a lot of fun puzzle solving my way through INFRA's lengthy campaign. There's more than enough content here for a single game, so I'm curious to see how big the second chapter ends up being. But even if you never get to the forthcoming episode, INFRA offers plenty of bang for the buck.
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