Format – PC
When we first broke the news about Infinity Runner, there was a real mix of excitement. It was one of the first Project Morpheus titles to be officially announced, it offered Occulus Rift support out of the box, it was announced for almost every format known to humankind and most importantly, it seemed as if it would be the successor to Mirror’s Edge we’ve been waiting for.
Sadly, not all of those things are quite true. The Mass Effect meets Mirror’s Edge tag we proudly proclaimed is a bit far from the truth. Actually, Infinity Runner is more along the lines of a big budget Temple Run. But despite the raised expectation, the good news is that it’s still a very likable game.
Infinity Runner casts you as an escapee test subject that runs through the confines of a space station, turning corners, jumping over obstacles and using athletic takedown skills to defeat opponents. You’re narrated through the game by the architect of your escape, an enigmatic female named Riley, who isn’t all that she seems. Sure, she broke you out and gave you a chance to roam free, removing the shackles of imprisonment, but she is also concealing a few secrets from the player. Finding out what they are would probably serve as motivation enough for the player to wade their way through the overly familiar level structure, but sadly, not only do some secrets go undiscovered, others are jumbled and don’t make any bloody sense whatsoever.
Some of the dialogue reads and sounds like it has been translated from Welsh into broken English. And to top it all off, there’s not much variety or tension or build-up, except for one level which sees you being pursued by a Werewolf. Most of the time you’re going through the motions, getting pop-up dialogue with a voice-over actress trying to sound convincing while delivering a half-witty retort, all while trying to awkwardly turn a corner – I’ll get to that in a moment.
If that’s not bad enough, the narrative goes to further embarrassing levels. The end of level text boxes are absolutely full of spelling and grammar mistakes, the tenses are all wrong and somehow, the descriptions manage to get progressively worse as you move towards the end of the game. While the prospect of being broken out of containment, fighting werewolves and being led astray by a mysterious character you’re not sure can be trusted sounds interesting on paper, the execution is just poor. Riley doesn’t even give you a good reason to collect the data files you spend most of the game grabbing. She just tells you that you’ll need them but doesn’t think it’s worth telling you why.
Basically, if you’re buying Infinity Runner for the story then don’t.
Fortunately, Wales Interactive have actually made the gameplay surprisingly exhilarating and engaging. The player auto-runs once the level begins and starts sprinting through different textured corridors. Players will need to make their way from the lower bowels of the ship, to the bridge and then eventually to the outside and onto another craft. Running along, they’ll need to avoid sludge puddles, jump over cracks in the ship’s surface, leap through space to reach the other side of the space station, sprint through vent tubes and disarm enemy troops through a series of Quick Time Events.
But if i’m being honest, it feels like a mobile game and would have probably been best placed launching on iPad or Vita than as a fully fledged PC title. Swipes and taps seem like a much more logical control mechanism for Infinity Runner. Or indeed, the Virtual Reality headset it supports. For instance, to turn corners you have to awkwardly move your mouse in the direction of the turn and the character will then head down that route. The way First Person Perspective games have been developed with free-look over the years, it’s surprising and disappointing to see such an awkward, clunky control scheme in place. A swipe would feel much quicker, tighter and more free-flowing. In fact, so would the turn of a head using Oculus. If nothing else, Infinity Runner is the rarest of games on the market where controlling it via touch or virtual reality is actually preferable to using a keyboard, mouse and probably a joypad. Although I don’t think I could deal with the nausea the game is sure to induce with the Rift
Many of the obstacles require you to learn the route and remember it; knowing how to place your steps and when to react. But no matter how prepared you are, you will die at least 2 to 3 times per level, purely because the game is often brutally unfair. You’ll have no time at all to prepare for some leaps, other times you’ll have no time to slide under an obstacle. Sometimes you won’t even know how to bypass an obstacle and have to try 2 or 3 different ways before something finally clicks. Sometimes the game character doesn’t react fast enough to your controls and you have time a movement precisely, otherwise you’ll continue to die.
Either way, the game will catch you out at some point and it’ll irk and annoy you, but you will find yourself opting in for ‘one more go’. It is a power the game seems to have over you. It seems too easy to pick at its flaws and problems and to complain about re-used textures or the horrendous clipping issues or tearing that creeps in. Because underneath all that, Wales Interactive have actually got a genuinely fun title that offers many moments of pure pleasure.
Oh, and you get to play as a Werewolf, which means you run faster, you plough through enemies without the need for QTEs and can blast through weakened walls to find hidden areas. The werewolf effect doesn’t last long, unfortunately, but it definitely mixes things up in the heat of the action.
The game even offers an audacious 32 Player Multiplayer Mode and lets you compete against others in Time Trials and Collection games to determine the highest ranked runner among you, your friends and the rest of the world. We’ve yet to get a game, but as soon as we do, we’ll update this and the game’s score.
Where Master Reboot offered a slightly better story and actual atmosphere, Infinity Runner clearly offers better gameplay. Wales Interactive are experimenting while trying to find their niche and are clearly enjoying themselves while doing it. Infinity Runner won’t be for everyone, but the standard of quality at Wales Interactive is defintiely getting higher. Infinity Runner balances its lows with some surprising highs and actually has us optimistic for a sequel.
We wait with baited breath to see what the team has in store for us with Soul Axiom.
The Good Stuff
- Fast-paced fun
- Engaging gameplay
The Bad Stuff
- Fix the grammar and spelling mistakes in the text boxes post levels
- Reduce tearing and clipping issues in some levels
- Less arduous controlling for turning corners
- Subtitles are also in need of fixing
Infinity Runner does enough to get the heart racing and the blood pumping. Awkward controls and horrendous narrative decisions aside, Infinity Runner is fun, fast-paced and full of futuristic fancy. Simple, switch off and play amusement that serves as a nice distraction between games.
Technical Competency – 6/10
Graphic Quality – 6/10
Sound Quality – 5/10
Network Stability – Untested