Right off the bat, Caustic Reality’s Infliction: Extended Cut doesn’t try to hide its inspirations. Slowly open any one of its creaking doors and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve entered another room in Layers of Fear or switched dimensions in Hideo Kojima’s P.T. demo. Akin to those, you explore from a first-person perspective, and here, you’re tasked with finding out just what happened to you and your family following a car accident. You’ll spend much of your time exploring your own home to find murder mystery clues. It’s a pretty typical setup; you’ll question your own sanity, switch perspectives to other family members, and have hellish visions of just what went down prior to the crash.
Pick up the phone
The story herein is a tad convoluted, with the game remaining intentionally vague throughout. You’ll get mysterious phone call reminders about plot points and gameplay tips, and quite quickly you get hold of a list of things to collect in order to find out what happened. Beyond that, there’s not much explanation of what’s going on, but that does add to the mystery of it all. Family memories, tapes, and items of interest provide fascinating backstory though and are really well delivered. The voice acting where applicable is top notch for the collectible content. Infliction: Extended Cut is at its most engaging when you’re scouring the house for any tidbits of backstory you can find.
Gameplay is somewhat limited, but it’s serviceable. However, movement speed is way too slow! This seems to be a recurring issue in “walking sim” games, likely in order to control pacing. Here though, it seems artificially sluggish, and the fact that you can explore the house at will makes pacing a moot point. There’s a ton of backtracking to do to find those collectibles, escape certain encounters, and simply figure out where to go, and Infliction’s movement does hamper progress at times.
Thankfully, it never really encroaches on combat. Fighting is limited to a flash of a light or a snap from your trusty camera lens, so you never have to be too precise to ward off malicious entities. Outside of this, it’s your typical exploration affair, and the game plays out quite similarly to something like Gone Home, but with monsters.
Hello, darkness, my old friend
Visually, the game does a pretty good job on Switch. I played exclusively in handheld mode and the game was graphically consistent throughout. There didn’t appear to be any sort of dynamic resolution in place here, with the frame rate taking a hit when the Switch was tapped out. In my experience, this only really happened during the game’s many gory death sequences in which you have no control of the character anyway. Infliction: Extended Cut keeps up an unsettling atmosphere throughout, and around every dark corner there’s a fear of the unknown. It’s recommended to play this game in a relatively low-light setting though if playing handheld. It can be quite tough to see what’s going on when screen glare rears its ugly head (from my reflection).
The trusty camera
There are a number of puzzles to solve during Infliction: Extended Cut’s roughly 4-hour runtime, but most follow the same structure. Your camera not only stuns enemies but is used to uncover secret images, passages, and often a bloody trail of where to head next. It forms the basis of puzzle-solving and is quite satisfying to use once you get into the groove of using it to find clues. However, there is one puzzle around three-quarters of the way through the game that had me scratching my head. Not because it was particularly tough, but because Infliction: Extended Cut decides to throw a Tomb Raider-esque turn-the-ancient-stones puzzle at you with no explanation. It felt frustrating because for the rest of the runtime, your trusty camera is the main tool of operation.
All in all, Infliction: Extended Cut is a decent, if unremarkable horror game that probably clings onto its inspirations a little too closely. Its psychedelic environment shifts pale in comparison to those of P.T and Layers of Fear, and the game would have been better served following the detective route a little closer. If Infliction would have further utilized the camera clues mechanic to deliver a more compelling overall narrative, it could have been a solid murder mystery. As it stands, I can only recommend Infliction for those who can’t get enough of anything close to what Kojima’s P.T. offered back in 2014.
A review code was provided by the publisher.