As a games reviewer it is my job to inform and advise potential interested parties on the latest and greatest releases. But Infini has me stumped; it is unlike anything I’ve played or experienced before. It is bizarre, surreal, unique but most of all, brilliant.
Infini boils down to being a perception-based puzzle game. Each level has you control an entity known as Hope who floats down towards the bottom of the screen. There is an escape portal that needs to be found but can only be done so by zooming in or out on the level area using the shoulder buttons. Hope can pass through one side of the screen and reappear at the other and uses this to navigate through the levels and avoid walls and obstacles.
Maze-like in their designs, the perception manipulation works in your favour. If you need to be on the other side of a barrier for example, you will travel through the other side of the screen, or zoom in close enough to Hope that the barrier disappears. Infini’s puzzles work by you only having to worry about what is currently on the screen. Sure, you may know the puzzle itself is larger than what the screen is currently presenting, but as the old saying goes: Out of sight, out of mind.
Don’t be fooled by this description, Infini is deceptively hard. The levels are complex and require a lot of planning beforehand and encourage trial and error. Credit is due to Infini making you feel like a genius whenever you complete a puzzle that you were previously stuck on. It requires a lot of thinking outside of the box but is very satisfying when the pieces fit together.
Conversely though, the solution can present itself early, but controlling Hope can be tricky. Some levels require perfect timing to reach the goal, or gaps that require precision to fit through. Frustrating, yes, but it all adds to the satisfaction.
Infini is much more than just a puzzle game though, it is also a story-driven affair about surreal existentialism. Told in a non-linear fashion to make things even more confusing, Hope is tricked by a being with an assault rifle for a head known as War into a place called Infinity. This is referred to as The Incident, and the rest of the game’s timeline follows on from this point.
Hope and War reside on Nulle Part – which translated from French is Nowhere – along with other beings known as Ideas: Time, Reality, Technology, Poetry, Peace and Memory are some of the other characters you will meet on this journey, whether that be on Nulle Part, or as a reflection of themselves in Infinity. If you’ve ever stopped for a second and thought to yourself that Time was a human invention, or that Reality was also another human idea conjured up to provide some grounding in this crazy world, then Infini’s story will work on another level as these Ideas interact with each other.
What I mean by that is the nuances between these character’s interactions. For example, War refers to Hope as a lie, stating that conscious beings can’t see clearly because of him, before then calling Hope unbearably naïve. And as anyone that has suffered from false hope, Wars’ summation of Hope is something to be agreed upon.
Or the fact that most other Ideas have a mutual dislike for Time, sneaking up on everyone.
Levels are grouped together and once a group has been completed, individual levels can be replayed from the level select screen. This takes the form of a graveyard set 999,999,999 days after The Incident. Replaying levels is sometimes necessary because there are collectibles in Infini, but it isn’t until halfway through that the importance of them becomes apparent.
In the graveyard is a treasure chest that will house all the collectibles you’ve gathered so far. These are in fact letters of the alphabet that can help you translate text in The Fortress. Once unlocked, The Fortress contains strange murals on the walls, with indecipherable texts accompanying them. But if you are able to uncover the murals and begin to decipher the texts, you can unlock secret levels and additional cutscenes that help expand upon the story.
On top of all that is a suitably experimental soundtrack. As you progress through blocks of levels, the soundtrack adds layers to itself, starting off very minimalist with odd time signatures before ending up almost symphony-esque in terms of grandeur. It has an avant-garde feel to it, but don’t let that put you off.
As striking as the soundtrack is, the art style is something else. Hope is presented as a grey humanoid being, sometimes with wings, sometimes without. But Hope is the most plain looking. War we know has an assault rifle for a head, and Memory is an elephant – assuming that elephants never forget – but the world around them is brilliantly designed as well. Areas that you cannot travel through are made immediately obvious by these spectral blocks, and indeed any time you touch one you fail and must restart the level.
The environments and cutscenes are all completely off the wall as well. Whilst everyone has been having bizarre dreams during coronavirus lockdown, Infini could well be the gamification of some of those nightly visions. That, or a seriously weird acid trip involving drawings from a primary school class coming to life.
Throughout its 7-8 hour story, Infini on the Nintendo Switch takes you on a journey that lasts nearly a billion days, which itself may win an award for longest time passed in a game. If you just want a pure puzzle game, Infini is as tricky and yet satisfying as they come. If you want a non-linear story that gives human ideas real personalities, Infini does that exceptionally well also. If you want both of those things, you must download Infini this very second.
Release date: July 2020
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Thanks to: nakana.io