Infini - Switch Review

Infini by developer Barnaque Inc. and publisher Nakana.ioNintendo Switch review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Infini is a quirky and abstract puzzle game created by Barnaque Inc., a studio based in Montreal, Canada. Players take the form of Hope, a personified representation of the feeling, who embarks on a life long journey of self-discovery. Along the way, players discover the sorts of challenges humans face as they navigate through life.

Gameplay

We are Hope, a genderless personification of the emotion, and from the beginning of the game, we endlessly fall from an odd ship. Although we have no idea what the games' purpose is, the abstract experience makes more sense as time progresses. Hope goes through a series of puzzles with little understanding of why. After making it through the portals to harder levels, players gain access to useful and necessary abilities to continue their journey.

At first, the presentation of the game did not inspire me to play it, but I found that spending some time with Infini left me with a sense of curiosity. See, the objective of this unique puzzle game is to get Hope to the exit. Exit points are represented by a hole in the air that seems to rip the fabric of time and space. The exit points are fairly obvious in the early levels but will be located in less obvious locations, later on, forcing players to use their abilities and think outside the box. While I'm terrible at playing games like this, I found myself fascinated by Infini even after repeatedly failing to complete levels.

The Abilities

Let's briefly talk about some of the abilities present in the game.

  • Slowing yourself down - This ability is used to slow Hope down to avoid obstacles.

  • Speeding yourself up - In a similar fashion to the slowdown, the speeding up ability helps players reach their destination, otherwise, they face impending doom.

  • Zoom Feature - The zoom feature is one that players have struggled with. The idea behind it is not to zoom out completely but to manipulate the screen in such a way that Hope can access new areas.

After completing a few levels, Hope finds other characters like Memory, Peace, Poetry, Time, and Technology, just to name a few. In the interest of keeping the abstract theme, each character is portrayed as different genderless creatures. For example, Poetry appears as a dog, Memory is an elephant, and Peace is a person. However, there is one that appears as a humanoid with a rifle head. I assume that character will turn out to be War. Anyways, these characters are personified as emotions and concepts that we have to deal with in the real world. Because of this, I find the game intriguing, but feel like a lot of people will skip this title.

While I'm all for abstract gameplay, art pieces, or ideas, Infini's downfall is that Hope's abilities aren't explained. Even at that, the dialogue in the game causes more questions than answers. Another issue with the dialogue is that some of the translation is terrible. And even though Infini has over 100 levels and 8+ hours worth of gameplay, it might be too abstract for the average gamer.

Sound and Music

The sound design during dialogue portions of Infini is... distracting. For example, when talking to Poetry, the audio sounds like small clips of a dog's bark spliced together. What's worse is that the audio is often spliced in a manner that is extremely obvious and jarring. Thus, the dialogue audio comes across as irritating, and not charming to the players.

However, the music of Infini is quite well done. The instrumental music that plays during each level changes so that some levels have a mesmerizing sound, while others are gritty and almost retro-sounding. The artist Roche Ovale is known for experimental / electronic music. It's no surprise that Infini's unique sound feels just as abstract as its visual design.

Roche Ovale consists of three members: Marc-Andre Provencher, David Martin (one of the developers), and Etienne Legast. In fact, David Martin has been part of the band for a number of years, which might have contributed to the music being featured in the game. The group is located in Montreal and has several albums available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. For more information about the group, check out their Facebook page.

Infini Final Thoughts

Before I get into my final thoughts, I will cover a couple of the negative points I found during gameplay. Some of these issues reflect the nature of indie games not having the same resources as triple-A studios. I usually overlook certain issues, but the presentation of the game makes them really stand out.

Here are some of my negative points for Infini:

  • It's easy to forget the controls for the various abilities, which can cause you to fail a level multiple times.

  • The English translation is awful in places.

  • The aesthetic is more likely to drive players away from it.

  • The audio design during dialogue sections is sometimes unpleasant.

Upon seeing the trailer of Infini I admit I wasn't on board with the title. Even as a person that enjoys abstract storytelling, I feel like Infini might be too far off the mark. That said, I found myself pleasantly surprised once I played through some of the levels. It reminds me a bit like Frogger and for as much as I failed various levels, I wasn't raging. I found the game to be an oddly relaxing experience despite its strange presentation and difficulty. In short, the game is worth trying.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate Infini at an 8. My experience is positive, which just goes to show that one should not judge a video game by its visual aesthetics. And because I didn't expect much out of this title, I found myself pleasantly surprised by its gameplay. Infini is definitely a game to experience, even if its presentation is abstract and perhaps off-putting. So, don't miss out on this title!

Score: 8 / 10



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