Game Reviews

Infamous: Second Son

It’s been a long time since I played Infamous. I remember it being a fun open-world game in the vein of Prototype, except less slimy. But that’s all I remember. Lightning bolts and draining street lights. I finished Infamous, but not Infamous 2.

It’s wild that this game is 8 years old. I skipped the entire PS4 platform, but the improvements since then, to include PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, etc, feel so incremental that it doesn’t feel like I’m on a PS2 playing a PS1 game. It just feels like I’m playing a slightly dated game, even though it’s almost a decade old.

This one shows its age in ways I was not expecting. One of the first things it asked me to do was to hold my controller vertically and shake it, like a spray paint can. Soon it asked me to swipe on the touch pad to open a cage. And then it wanted me to press my right thumb on the touch pad to drain smoke energy. All these sort of unnatural interactions became intuitive quickly enough, but it feels very tech demo-y.

Beyond that, this is a lot of what I remember of Infamous. I can’t fly, but eventually I got enough powers to move fast enough to not need flight. But there was enough pain in the beginning with manual jumping and climbing that I spent those opening couple hours wishing I could fly. I started with smoke powers, but the game introduces other elements into the repertoire. These all functionally feel pretty similar but they have enough differences to be unique. They certainly did their best to map each power to the same button regardless of element, which helps integrate them into my brain.

Like the previous Infamous games, this one has the hero/villain morality system. Like those games, this one has no room for shades of gray. It feels designed to push me into one direction or the other with high powered abilities requiring a certain level of hero or villain reputation.

Here’s what threw me. At the end, you confront the antagonist. She describes her motivations for her terrible actions. Her motivations do not redeem her horrible actions, but they present an interesting future. I pursued the hero route, defeated her, and the epilogue does not engage with that potential future at all. It’s a terrible ending. But not so terrible that I want to replay the game all over again for a villain route to see if that ending is any better.

I devoured Infamous: Second Son. It’s fun to play and there is a lot of little open world activities that I just gobbled up. But that’s in part because the game is not particularly difficult and it’s fairly short.

Infamous: First Light

I also played Infamous: First Light, which takes one of the side characters of Second Son and gives her a story of her own. It functions as a sort of extended demo for Second Son, and a prequel. It’s standalone, but after playing Second Son, takes too long to get started and it’s way too easy. I didn’t die even once in First Light. It ditches the morality system and replaces a lot of the open world activities with even simpler equivalents. It’s fun for an afternoon.