GAME NAME: Infinifactory
PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac, Linux, PS4 (reviewed)
RELEASE DATE(S): December 22, 2015
Infinifactory starts out with the abduction scene, straight out of Fire In The Sky. Although there’s no freaky alien physical testing (which, when I saw as an 8-year old, scared me for about 5 years), it’s a jarring transition. Then, the puzzling begins.
Fifty-ish levels of 3D block-building puzzles have you moving materials, crafting food, and doing some nefarious stuff for the Overlords, good stuff for The Resistance, and then doing the puzzles over again to get a better score. It’s like a structured, puzzling Minecraft. You’ll build conveyor belts to move blocks to welders to connect them to each other. From there, you may need to build a rocket system, a fuel container, or just a collection of blocks and get them to a hopper. The space you do all of these in is nearly totally explorable, as well. Fire up your dead silent, trusty jet-pack to see the construction site from any angle necessary. Then ragequit because you can’t figure any of it out.
As the puzzles continue on, small snips of story get revealed. The overlords are not a very smart race of aliens, but they’re good at kidnapping and containing smarter people, who they then have build weapons, vehicles, and structures. These are almost wholly contained within audio logs found on dead abductees, and in this the voice acting is quite good. These last audio clips – Failure Logs – can be quite sad, including an early one featuring a dog.
But goddamn is this game difficult for all but the most hardcore puzzler players. The physics for blocks is a little goofy (pieces welded together don’t move as you’d think), but it makes some of the puzzles slightly more manageable. New mechanics are introduced in little IKEA-like posters in stages, which aren’t super helpful, but I don’t think they’re intended to be particularly helpful in the first place. Most of your time will be spent in a long trial and error slog if you’re anything but an engineer or a savant. I made it about 6 puzzles in before I was stumped, frustrated, impatient, and out of time to devote to this sort of endeavor. Clicking through Let’s Play videos over on YouTube made me feel slightly better – many of them include the player saying “This one took a while” or something similar – but this game definitely has a niche playerbase.
The aesthetic of Infinifactory is an interesting combination of beautiful backgrounds and rigorously utilitarian interaction space. It makes sense, since obviously these little factories you’re building need to be function over form. The written language bits you get to see from your captors reinforce the blocky design of the world they inhabit, which is a nice touch as well. The music and audio are top notch, with the Failure Logs being particularly well done and varied. An easy-to-listen-to soundtrack, consisting of downtempo stuff, lets you build your conveyor belts and welders and splitters and all that without being obtrusive. Being growled at by the overlord aliens is neat to listen to as well. Just remember, you’re as confused as your protagonist is as well.
As much as I hate to say it, Infinifactory just isn’t a game for me. It’s for someone more thoughtful, with a puzzle-solver’s mind, than I. It’s for a person with a good amount of free time, who can relish efficiency on the tenth or eleventh try, working out solutions that I long gave up on. Which is a shame, considering how well-crafted it is, that a game like this – these “you’re in space, now figure everything out” genre entries – doesn’t have a way to let me explore in a free evening. If you’re inclined to these types of games, Infinifactory could soak up a good amount of your free time. If you’re not, however, this game isn’t the one that is going to win you over. I guess you could play some more Minecraft.