When P.T. was revealed in 2014 by Kojima Productions, it was dubbed one of the best horror games of all time, despite only being a demo. Its influence is still apparent today as many games have since attempted to replicate the same toe-curling style: Allison Road, Layers of Fear, Visage and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, to name a few. Some did this well, some were only a little inspired and brought in excellent new ideas, some are yet to be released, some were cancelled and some were just not that great. Infliction: Extended Cut was the latter of these.
From developer Caustic Reality and publisher Blowfish Studios, this psychological horror game begins with Gary, who is driving back home to grab his wife’s plane tickets whilst she is stuck at the airport. Upon entering his house, the player is soon introduced to Infliction: Extended Cut’s exploration aspects as you’re able to pick up and inspect every object within the house. The detail on these objects is impressive as all the printing is visible and there are even footprints on some of the leaflets you look at. This excited me at first, as I was led to believe this would bring on plenty of puzzle aspects associated with looking for items to use about the house. But this hope ended here, as there is never a point where rummaging through the draws or cupboards actually pays off. Everything that you need to pick up in order to progress in the story will be visibly lit up, so this soon takes away that urge to find out more by inspecting random objects.
The initial build-up of tension is great. The house is silent aside from trees rattling against the windows and winds howling outside. But before Infliction even properly begins, you become accustomed to the knowledge that Gary’s house is already haunted by a lack of light bulbs and must navigate his way from room to room with a torch, even before anything bad happens. You cautiously make your way through this modern house, inspecting images on the walls and listening to voicemails. It’s obvious they have the outside appearance of a perfect family with a teenage daughter and baby, but when you look closely you can see the signs of a tragedy - the song list on album covers reveal violence and murder. Letters and journals hint towards a terrible incident happening in the past, and the house has a few disturbing choices of decor.
The story takes an abrupt turn when Gary finds the tickets. Suddenly, he has either a flashback or vision (or maybe it’s an actual event, it’s not explained very well) of him wearing a cult-like mask and murdering his wife. In the next turn of events, Gary flees to his car and crashes it into a tree. When we appear back in the house, the radio (one of the ways we hear about significant sections of the story and background knowledge) announces that he died at the scene and his teenage daughter is currently missing. Haunted by the enraged ghost of his murdered wife, Gary must now find out how to exorcise the house to get rid of her for good.This happens within the first twenty minutes and kickstarts the plot's events.
The way the story is told was really creative. As you walk throughout the house, reaching certain goals will cause a time shift in which you get to explore the area again at a different period in time – using letters, voicemails and diaries to find out what significant event happened each year which led to such an event.
It’s just a shame the majority Infliction just ripped off P.T. The design of the house is very similar and your character is also continuously walking down the same hallway which changes appearance bit by bit each time. There is a continuous screeching of a light swinging in the hallway to build tension. A baby's cries can be heard during a certain segment of the game, and even the design of the ghost herself wearing a white dress with vomit around her mouth are all strikingly similar to P.T.
There are several aspects of Infliction that strike fear to begin with, but unlike P.T., these get very tiresome quickly. The first sessions of running away from the ghost are terrifying, and the use of surrounding sounds such as the baby monitor and televisions turning on and off is very creepy. But there comes a point when they become overused and boring. I lost count of how many times a door handle moving by itself was used to build tension, and in the end it became annoying to be unable to leave the room until this teasing was done.
At later stages of Infliction, you will come across the ghost in various locations throughout the house. You have options to trap her under light to banish her, to hide from the ghost,
I came very close to just giving up on Infliction because of one section when it’s a requirement to banish her from the level in order to progress. As soon as you start in this level, she will be waiting for you in the hallway and unless you know exactly where to go from here, she will kill you. This means that that dying is inevitable through certain stages of Infliction, which can be frustrating for gamers who have been playing well up until these points. My desire to stop playing Infliction at this stage was strengthened by the fact that my game glitched after I was killed by having my heart torn out and eaten. After I came back to life, the sound of her munching on my heart wouldn't stop and I had to put up with the constant sounds of her chewing on my organs for about twenty minutes. The game’s description tells us, “a restless AI enemy will be stalking you, and you really don’t want to be caught,” yet Infliction is less about evading the paranormal entities plaguing this dreamscape Gary seems to be trapped in and more about giving up and letting them kill you just so you can move on with the story.
Certain aspects of Infliction are entertaining, although the majority of it doesn’t make sense once you start thinking too hard about the plot. Several sections will turn the house into a mental asylum, and it’s fascinating seeing how the layout you become so accustomed to has been altered slightly to suit this setting. But it also makes no sense, because the mental asylum doesn’t actually have any involvement in Gary’s family history. It would have been much better had the house maybe been a mental asylum in the past and it was converted. But unfortunately the story never goes as far to explain this.
On top of this, Infliction doesn’t seem to know what genre it is, so it tries to cram in as many horror tropes as it can. Mental Asylum? Check. Demonic pig man? Check. Cabin in the woods? Check. Enforced stealth section to introduce crouching which will become useless in a minute or two? Check. There are so many ideas yet, none of them have been properly developed. This could have been a game about a man’s descent into madness and satanic worship, who is then stuck in purgatory to re-experience his wrongdoing. These themes are all present in the game and could have made a solid story had there not been an apparent need to incorporate the P.T. elements. In fact, all the P.T. elements fall flat anyway, as there’s no point trying to reach the level of Kojima’s masterpiece in the same way. Instead there should have been more focus on the semi-original ideas this game had. Even the ghost herself, the main antagonist, becomes tiresome very quickly.
Infliction: Extended Cut has tried to achieve too much and as a result achieved very little. It's frustrating to play and has an antagonist who is more of an annoyance than something that strikes genuine fear. It has its creative moments and produces some interest into the storyline, but overall leads up to be disappointing.
Jess reviewed Infliction: Extended Cut with a code provided by the publisher.