Infernal Review

Infernal embraces style over substance, resulting in a dull and repetitive shooting experience.

In traditional Christian theology, souls stuck between heaven and hell are caught in purgatory, which is an apt description of where Infernal belongs. This third-person shooter portrays the conflict between heaven and hell as being waged on Earth via corporate proxies. You'll play as a former heavenly agent who's kicked out of heaven and caught between both sides. However, the gameplay in Infernal hardly aspires to greatness, nor is it a complete disaster. Instead, this supernatural action game just muddles along.

It looks pretty, but that's about all this shooter has going for it.
It looks pretty, but that's about all this shooter has going for it.

You play as Ryan Lennox, a fallen angel sipping drinks in a bar with a friend when suddenly shock troops from Everlight, the heavenly corporation, try to kill him. With nowhere else to turn, Lennox teams up with hell's corporation for some revenge. In return, he is blessed (or cursed) with infernal powers that allow him to teleport around, levitate objects, fire powerful magical blasts, and see the invisible. That's in addition to his regular arsenal of weapons, ranging from pistols to assault rifles, as well as exotic equipment, such as welder guns and heavy energy beams. With these powers and weapons, Lennox has to storm Everlight's facilities to uncover its plan to mind control humanity while letting people still think they have free will. That touches on an interesting theological and philosophical question, but that's about as far as the game goes in that direction. In Infernal, it's might that makes right, which is all you'll have to worry about.

However, it doesn't matter how edgy the characters are or how cool the story is if the act of actually shooting a gun or blowing away enemies isn't a lot of fun, which is Infernal's major problem. When you get down to it, combat--the heart of the game--is dull and repetitive. You repeatedly battle the same lame foes in a process that involves storming into a room, blasting them all repeatedly, and then draining the bodies of their souls to restore your health. Draining souls also strips your foes of their weapons and ammunition. The whole process takes about five seconds for each body and absolutely kills the pace of the game because you'll spend as much time draining souls as you do fighting. Then, you'll proceed to the next room to repeat the process. Even though there's a cover mechanic, it's more annoying than useful, and you don't really need to bother with it because there's not much tactical thinking required in the game. The enemies themselves are lackluster, spouting the same tired dialogue while rushing blithely to their fates and displaying little intelligence. Meanwhile, the same annoying heavy metal riff plays whenever a battle starts up, so you're basically sick of it by the end of the first level.

 Draining souls is fun at first but gets really tired after the hundredth time.
Draining souls is fun at first but gets really tired after the hundredth time.

Unfortunately, there are four more levels to follow, and the gameplay doesn't really improve throughout the course of those levels. Yes, the enemies get a bit tougher, and there are the requisite boss fights, but the dullness of the combat experience remains the same. That's a pity because there's clearly potential here. The visuals are very slick and glossy. There's also an advanced physics system that lets you knock over objects, although it has very little impact on the overall game. The environments are pretty standard, linear shooter environments. You'll follow a tight path that weaves through a monastery, a refinery, a metal works, and an aircraft carrier. You also have to hunt for key cards or figure out a small puzzle to proceed, which is all fairly standard for the shooter genre.

The single-player campaign will take between six and eight hours to play through, and that's about it because there is no multiplayer component to the game. So once you've played through Infernal, you'll probably never want to play through it again. It's not that it's a mess of a game, but it's not a very compelling game either. In the end, Infernal's issue is that it has got lots of style but very little substance.

The Good

  • It looks pretty
  • ummm, it doesn't crash

The Bad

  • Dull, repetitive gameplay; makes the act of shooting a chore
  • wastes its interesting setting and premise
  • short single-player campaign, no multiplayer, little replayability

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