inFAMOUS: First Light Review
Posted by Sammy Barker
The problem with inFAMOUS: Second Son was that it ended too quickly: Sucker Punch’s supercharged pseudo sequel was over in a flash, leaving many of its fans wanting more. inFAMOUS: First Light attempts to solve that problem, recharging with a new playable character, storyline, and some fresh powers – but does it burn brightly, or flicker like a dying light bulb?
This standalone expansion centres on the story of Abigail ‘Fetch’ Walker, the pink-haired personality who previously appeared in Delsin Rowe’s narrative. Laid out in a series of flashbacks, it deals with the death of her brother Brent, as the siblings get dragged into the seedy underbelly of a gang war, in an attempt to escape from the Conduit capturing armed forces, the D.U.P.
Much like the main story itself, any attempts at emotional depth fall flat, but the acting across the board is pretty good – especially in the case of the punk rock protagonist that you play as. Over the course of the three or so hour narrative, you’ll watch her grow from a frightened youngster to the hard-as-nails tough girl from the core campaign, which is good enough to contextualise your actions.
As mentioned, the plot is relayed through memories, which are recited in detention facility Curdun Cay. It’s here that the game introduces arguably its biggest new feature: Battle Arenas. Added as a means to augment replay value to the game, the fiction describes these as training exercises for those with superpowers – but they’re basically just incredibly entertaining score-chasing stages.
There are two modes: Survival and Rescue. In the former, you must simply off as many bad guys as possible, ensuring to maintain a combo in order to maximise your points. The latter works in a similar manner, except the foes are slightly less ruthless, and you have to save glowing hostages who are being attacked by gang members. Allow five to die and it’s game over.
It’s an undeniably simple concept, but the combat makes it more enjoyable than it perhaps has the right to be. If you lamented the fact that there was little to fight once you’d completed Second Son, then this has been fashioned specifically for you; there may only be three arenas, but they’re a hoot if you’re a fan of the way that this franchise feels.
And playing as Fetch really is supremely satisfying, as her neon-based power set is much more aggressive than Delsin’s. While there are similarities, there’s an almost Vanquish-esque appeal to the way that the freckled freedom fighter is able to boost around stages, leap into the air, and then enter slow motion to pick off antagonists with precision projectiles.
There is an upgrade tree – which actually grows once you’ve completed the story – with points awarded for conquering Call of Duty-esque challenges while you play, as well as for participating in side quests around Seattle. You get free rein of approximately half of the map from the main game, which has been stashed once again with tons of tasks for you to complete.
As is now expected for the series, though, not all of these are especially enjoyable: surveillance drones add a touch of Watch Dogs as you laboriously hack into flying cameras and try to track them down by observing their camera feed, while the neon graffiti objectives are neat in premise, but don’t appear to control anywhere near as well as the spray paint sequences from the main game.
The races are at least a nice addition, as you boost through NiGHTS into Dreams-like rings within Seattle in order to catch up with a glowing red sphere, named a Lumen. There are tons more of these little balls of energy around the open world for you to collect, each rewarding you with points to invest into your abovementioned upgrade tree.
As with the main game, you will reach a point within six or so hours where you’ve seen everything, but that’s where the Battle Arenas come in to keep you occupied a little longer: leaderboards are included to motivate you to beat your best scores, while there’s the option to play as Delsin if you own Second Son – even if the stages don’t seem particularly well suited to his powers.
At the end of the day, though, if you’re not keen on this property’s particular brand of third-person action, then you’re not going to glean a whole lot out of this additional adventure. The story missions never break free from open world cliché, and the aforesaid arcade-inspired combat option is, while thoroughly enjoyable, essentially just a single player horde mode.
inFAMOUS: First Light is never going to set the world alight, but if you’ve been gagging for more of Sucker Punch’s superhero series, then it will fill that hole until a full sequel charges onto store shelves. Fetch’s fast-paced take on the neon power set makes her an entertaining protagonist to play as – especially in the frantic Battle Arenas. In many ways, this represents the brand stripped back to its very basics – and you’ll need to decide whether that’s enough for you.