Infernium (Nintendo Switch) Review

Game Title: Infernium
Developer: Undercoders
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3.5 – 4.5 hours
Download: 1.0 GB

You could say that I’m a sucker for horror games and, since playing Outlast, I’m much more into first-person horror games for that perspective element. Although I don’t plan on playing Outlast 2 for quite awhile, Infernium popped up on the eShop this week and the moment I saw “first person survival horror”, I jumped on it and wanted to play through it.

After much frustration, roaming, exploring and puzzle-solving, I’ve trekked through a new version of Hell and am ready to give you all my thoughts on it. Hee is my review of Infernium for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

The story of Infernium is a difficult one to tell. You are “someone” roaming through the alternate realm known as Infernium, where strange apparitions wander with the sole purpose of killing you and sending you to Purgatory for invading their realm.

The real story, though, is far more interesting, as is the way that story is told. Infernium is really about a group of drug and sex-filled friends who go through a strange ordeal on a vacation and discover a strange undersea cave, happening upon the very same hellish realm that you traverse in the game.

The interesting thing about this is that you learn this story by discovering writings all over Infernium left by that group, telling their story, struggle, and inevitable fate. It also leads to a lot of mystery, particularly who the character you play as really is, be it one of the friends or some other tortured soul, damned to wander Infernium as punishment for their sins.

Gameplay

Infernium is advertised as a first-person survival horror game with non-linear levels. That’s mostly true, but I would say it’s more like a first-person non-linear puzzle game with horror elements thrown into the mix. You do run through a strange hellish realm with jump scares scattered around, but I would call it much more puzzle game than horror game. There were very few parts of the game where I truly felt scared.

In a way, you could consider Infernium an open-world game because the levels aren’t very linear, though I would call it more like a 3D Metroidvania type of experience. Once you reach the main “hub” of the game, you have different paths you can take, which lead you to different levels/dungeons and have to end up visiting them all, eventually, but with different items and abilities from one that will significantly help you lower the difficulty of the other.

Basic progression is basically a matter of going to where you need to go to reach your next area. You can walk around areas as well as focusing energy to make small teleport “jumps” to reach areas you can’t walk to. This also ties into levers with doors that will start closing as soon as you open them, requiring a very puzzle-like game of running close and teleporting through the gap before it closes you out.

Your main worry, though, is enemies. All enemies are stationary until you get close to them, but if they touch you, it’s instant-death and you’re sent to a Purgatory level, requiring you to use a fountain to return to your last checkpoint and try again, so long as you haven’t run out of your total 25 lives, in which case returning is locked out until you explore Purgatory and use light absorbed into your fingers to restore one of your lives.

And light plays a large part in the game. Not only do you use light to restore lost lives, but you also use full “fingers” of light that you collect and unlock to open a lot of the game’s barriers that seal off areas you need to traverse. There’s also the fact that dying makes you lose all of your light and you have to go back to where you died to recollect it.

But let’s talk about the puzzle factor. As I played this game, it never felt like a survival game, but a puzzle game. In every area, you have to wander around, learn where everything is, and navigate it while luring enemies in a way that gives you a chance to teleport to the next area. The further you get into the game, the more levers and mini-games you have to do, which further cements the feel that this is a horror-themed puzzle game rather than a survival horror game.

And let’s talk about scare factor. I won’t say the game isn’t scary, but that -most- of the game isn’t scary. Most areas are brightly-lit and enemies are in plain sight, so the only times where there is true tension are when those enemies are following you and you have to solve a puzzle while avoiding them at the same time. I wouldn’t call this ‘scary’ tension.

There is one enemy in the game that is scary and raises that tension to true horror levels: Rain Foes. These enemies can only be seen in the rain and when it isn’t raining, they become 100% invisible. Having one of these foes follow you into a building and seeing that silhouette completely disappear, with you needing to navigate around them is nerve-racking every time you do it and that is where this game truly feels like it is scary.

Now, this game is non-linear, but how much content is there? There are over a dozen levels to navigate through and, without a guide, simple amounts of time ends up being a lot of times with trying and trying and trying some more. I spent a little over 3 hours navigating my way down one of the main paths of the early game and, upon starting a new game, I managed to get to that same point in a mere 25 minutes.

I would gauge someone who knows how to do everything being able to complete the entire game in 3-4 hours, but without the use of a guide/walkthrough and figuring it out in typical puzzle fashion, you can finish the game as well as reading through all the lore on the walls in no less than 10-15 hours.

Controls

Controlling the game is pretty simple, as there aren’t that many controls for you to worry about. The touchscreen isn’t used, so no need to worry about that in handheld mode.

Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick and moving the camera is done with the Right Analog Stick. You can hold down the + button to go back to the Main Menu. The only other 3 controls are Teleporting, Using your Right Hand for Light, and using your Left Hand for tools.

These each have multiple buttons that control them. By default, teleporting is shown to you in the tutorial as the ZR button but it can also be used with the B button. Right Hand / Light is done with the R button as well as the X button. Finally, the Left Hand can be used with the ZL or L triggers as well as the A button.

Presentation

Visually, the game looks very pretty on the Switch. There’s a lot of detail in everything and all of the environments have a lot of good atmosphere to them. This is an Unreal Engine game, and it shows it in how the visuals are.

The only hiccup here is performance. Infernium isn’t what you would call a hog in terms of power usage. For example, my Generation 1 Surface Book can play the PC version of this game with over 60 fps without any problems. But, the Switch version has occasional fps drops. As you’re running through environments with a lot around you, expect it to regularly drop into the 20s, whether you’re running from an enemy or just casually exploring the area.

Battery Life

I didn’t expect a lot out of the Battery Life of this game. But, here are my times from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 24 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 39 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 26 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 43 minutes

This surprised me. For a 3D Unreal Engine game like Infernium, this is pretty good.

 

Summary

In conclusion, Infernium is a game that I went in, expecting survival horror and found puzzle horror. However, despite some mild frame-rate issues, it stands as a very unique horror game with a lore system that had me constantly coming back for more past its increasingly-difficult puzzles. If you're into horror and don't mind puzzles, you should definitely check it out.

8.5/10

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