Home Is Where The Horror Is

HIGH Fantastic horror that still feels grounded.

LOW The final ‘random chance’ mission

WTF Why is this morgue worker naked?

Many horror tales begin in a seemingly standard world, and then start to slowly crank the surreal or supernatural up until things go completely off the rails. This is the case in Caustic Reality’s Infliction, which begins as a husband returns to a dark house with the intent of grabbing plane tickets for a wife who’s forgotten them…

Infliction puts players in the role of Gary Prout, the mute husband picking up said plane tickets for wife Sarah. Once he finds them, things go south and house turns out to be much more than a simple place of residence. Gary must explore, face his demons and purge the house of the evil in its walls.

Fans of horror will recognize Infliction taking the ‘powerless protagonist’ route with its gameplay. Players can crouch, walk, and hide, but there are no weapons and no way to defend oneself. Players must always be aware of their surroundings to survive as they solve puzzles to find objects needed to rid the house of evil.

The atmosphere of Infliction is stunning. The house feels very lived-in thanks to touches like posters on the walls and knickknacks strewn around. In this regard there’s a lot of DNA from indie classic Gone Home here. Story moments trigger when certain items are looked at, and it’s easy for players to understand the life that Gary had. That said, there’s no shortage of spooky — the house creaks like someone is always behind me, lamps swing ever-so-slightly, and did I just hear the static hum of the television go completely silent for a moment?

When things go weird and surreal, each environment takes on a life of its own, and they all left me unsettled. Although it starts out as a house, Infliction will throw Gary into other places including a police station, a cabin in the woods, and a mental asylum.

While the atmosphere in Infliction is great, the game falls down a bit when it comes to its antagonist — the first time I got attacked was the last time it was terrifying.

One problem with this evil spirit is that I knew she was in the house with Gary, but she shows up so infrequently that I almost had to search for her. In fact, there was only one time I actually saw the spirit before it killed me outside of a scripted death. Later on, I turned a corner and saw her stuck inside a wall. Scary, she is not.

Putting the ineffectual creature aside, Infliction seems to suffer from an identity crisis. There’s a lot of inspiration taken from other horror games such as finding memory fragments in mundane items and going through the house multiple times. It also seems inspired by horror movies like IT, Hellraiser, and several Asian horror films — there’s just not enough to give Infliction the identity it needs to stand on its own.

On the other hand, what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in pacing, and Infliction doesn’t dawdle — there are a lot of things to explore and the house felt like it changed enough so that it never got stale, flipping from domestic to surreal, to a monster area and back again.

Caustic Reality is a one-man studio, and I applaud the creator for the game he made — I enjoyed Infliction and discovering Gary’s truth. It might not be a groundbreaking title in the horror genre and its antagonist might need a bit of rehab, but this psychological adventure is still one worth taking.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Caustic Reality and published by Blowfish Studios.  It is currently available on Steam, and the extended cut is available on PS4 and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Violence, Strong Language, and Blood. Horror games aren’t known for their subtlety. This one is about domestic abuse and trauma, including lots of blood from deaths as well as lots of strong language. Not for children.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Text is not resizable, and audio cues are rather important for this game as they let the player know when to hide. This game is not fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Controls are not remappable.

Eugene Sax
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