With horror games, it’s essential to find a way to immerse the player and create an anxiety building atmosphere. And while Infliction does a great job of making that atmosphere, it fails to keep me engaged due to several technical issues and one to many scripted deaths that are just unavoidable and tedious.
This is not to say that Infliction is not worth playing if you’re looking for a quick thrill. It is and delivers that rush you might be looking for but don’t expect it to leave a long-lasting impression. Even with its cliffhanger ending, you probably won’t remember much that happened or question any of the narrative beyond the moments you interact with particular objects.
To get right into things, Infliction is your standard narrative first-person horror. Explore the haunted house, find the clues, uncover the story and solve a few puzzles along the way. Almost everything you see in the house can be interacted with, and there are a few little easter eggs to stumble across, such as NES cartridges of games. Infliction takes clear inspiration from, such as Gone Home. Interacting with more than just the clues helps build the house and goes a long way in immersing the player in the story. However, it can get a tad tedious picking up things that seem important and have no relevance to progression.
The main mechanic involved in solving most of Inflictions seemingly dead-end objectives is using a polaroid camera to help reveal essential clues or objects. Every time I got the camera out to take a quick picture, a sudden rush of anxiety overcame me as I zoomed in a lost vision. Adding a sense of forced risk vs reward situation, I know I have to take the picture to progress, but I just don’t want to drop my guard for even a second.
And the reason I’m consistently scared of dropping my guard is because of the incredibly well-crafted atmosphere Caustic Reality has created. Every corridor feels and looks as tormented as the mind and body of the spirit you are trying to escape. There’s also something incredibly unnerving about seeing everyday environments such as sitting rooms and kitchens become covered in blood and filled with limbs. The house is also ever-changing, from doors disappearing as you walk through them, leaving you with no exit. To jump into mirror realms and paintings on the wall, this is more than just your standard haunted house clue search.
With that said, the amount of jump scares in infliction is a little overwhelming, especially in the early stages when they are mostly just scripted deaths that progress the story. And don’t feel particularly scary at all; most of the fear and anxiety comes from seeming the ghost roam around the house rather than being attacked by it. I must also mention that during some of the later game moments and the few cut scenes, the games frame rate started to slow down a lot. I played on Switch in both handheld mode and docked, and it was a consistent issue that often ruined the experience and broke the immersion that so much effort went into creating. It’s a massive shame, but things are certainly a lot less scary at 15 frames per second.
Coming in around 2 to 4 hours worth of gameplay, Infliction offers very little to go back for. A new game plus mode is practically a hard mode, and chapter select to hop around to certain parts in the game and collected missed memories if you wish. Finally, a bonus gallery shows many art extras and cool bits that didn’t make the game, so make sure to take a look around that once you finished the game. The lack of meaning full extra content is a shame, but it’s not bad for only £15.99 ($19.99).
Infliction nails most of the traditions horror tropes and does well to create a genuinely intriguing and anxiety-inducing atmosphere with is detail design and ever-changing environments. However, the lack of any real memorable scares and countless scripted deaths that get old quickly paired with recurring performance issues consistently break the immersion that was so brilliantly created.