Infliction: Extended Cut
Developer: Caustic Reality
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Platform: PlayStation 4
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 1/04/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
I’ve had a long-standing fascination with horror from an early age, maybe too early. By the start of high school, I had been equally terrified and enthralled by films such as Candyman and Creepshow, had read The Shining and was devouring any horror novel that came my way. In 1999 Silent Hill dropped me right into a horror story, and I’ve loved horror games ever since. This week I’ve taken a shaky stroll through the psychological horror house of Infliction: Extended Cut.
Ironically, horror seems to be a genre that just never dies. Regular releases of new horror titles are as predictable as every post-1980’s George A Romero zombie film being rubbish (sorry George). As a result, the market is in an almost perpetual state of over-saturation. These days it takes a truly great horror game to be able to claw its way through the walking dead of competition. Does Infliction: Extended Cut rise to the challenge?
The first noteworthy thing about Infliction: Extended Cut is that it is mostly the work of just one man, Clinton McCleary. Clinton is undoubtedly a horror fan with excellent taste, and you can see his influences clearly throughout this game. Sometimes a little too clearly; drawing influence from iconic horror tropes is one thing, using them verbatim is quite another.
Who Lives In A House Like This?
You play as Gary Pout, an average family man returning home to retrieve your wife’s plane ticket. Upon entering the house, you find yourself trapped in a looping psychological hell, pursued by a vengeful spirit from room to room while trying to piece together what happened in your house.
The game’s storyline features a handful of common horror conventions, mixing them into a fairly detailed but uninspired plot. The story suffers from some pacing issues, and a major plot reveal comes far too early, robbing the story of much needed ambiguity in the opening hours.
The level design and atmosphere of Infliction: Extended Cut stands out as the best things about the game. The Pout family home is genuinely interesting to explore and suitably scary at all the right times. An overuse of scripted deaths gets a little tiresome and predictable as the game progresses, but I can’t fault the creepy atmosphere and design of this game.
The tension is very real as you creep around the dark house trying to avoid the instant death grab of the stalking ghost. You can hide from the ghost, and you can scare her away with a camera; at one point you can even flip a switch and electrocute her. But she can’t be banished for long. She will keep coming and keep killing you again and again. Escape is not an option, only avoidance.
Peeling Back The Layers
Themes of depression, substance addiction, mental health, and child neglect emerge as you explore the many dimensions and timelines of the Pout family home. These themes work well in narrative terms, but emotionally they don’t show much compassion or deep understanding of the subject matter. These themes feel like narrative tools used to support the gameplay, rather than inspiration for it.
The latter half of the game steps up the use of tired horror cliches, including the obligatory asylum sequence and links to the occult. I really would have loved to see some originality here; instead, we get the same old story. As important as it is to draw from your inspirations, it is as equally important to put your own stamp on the material and deliver something new.
There are plenty of great elements at work in Infliction: Extended Cut such as; the looping level design, using a camera to expose secrets and clues, and a great surreal shifting environment. But these are all things we have seen done better in other titles.
After completing the game, a gallery becomes available. Most games have collections of artwork and promotional material, that’s nothing that new. But Infliction: Extended Cut’s gallery is an actual art gallery that can be toured. The within artwork displays the game’s central story and the Pout family’s descent into the darkness. I like this feature but feel this kind of insight would have been better explored more deeply in the main game.
Making The Cut?
The game has a pretty short length even if you are thoroughly exploring every nook of the Pout home (or just cowering in a corner from the ghost). But it does offer some replayability and extra value in a sense, as the new game+ feature changes the puzzles and item locations and increases the frequency and speed of the ghost. This certainly allowed for an enjoyable and surprising second playthrough of the game for me.
I enjoyed my time with Infliction: Extended Cut, any diehard horror fan will appreciate the numerous references to the genre’s icons. It didn’t wow me or keep me up at night, but it did engage me for the duration of its length and genuinely made me jump. Among the endless hordes of horror games, Infliction: Extended Cut stands above many lesser specimens but is ultimately let down by standing in the shadow of others and not finding its own demonic feet.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You Can Buy Infliction: Extended Cut from the PlayStation Store.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.