Infinity Runner Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Apple Mac, PC, Microsoft Xbox One and Linux
“Werewolves in space!” That’s the hook by which Infinity Runner will try to draw you in, but don’t be fooled into thinking the game is as fun as the idea behind it. Ultimately, this is a running game in much the same vein as Temple Run, which squanders some good concepts with uneven gameplay, poor writing, and a story lacking in both logic and dramatic tension. There are times when it proves to be engaging, but overall it simply isn’t cohesive enough to make you want to stick with it.
There is only one thing you can do in Infinity Runner, and that is run. Played from a first-person perspective, your character constantly sprints forwards as fast as they can, as they attempt to escape a spaceship called the Infinity. Your job is simply to avoid the obstacles along the way, jumping over gaps, sliding under lasers, and dodging around pools of toxic material that litter the path. You can strafe left or right, and you have to look in the correct direction when you come to a corner in order to go around it.
Interspersed with the running are combat sections whenever you encounter a guard, which play as simple quick-time events. However, since any given configuration of guards always requires you to press the same sequence of buttons, and there are only about three different configurations in the entire game, this becomes less than challenging after a while. As a result, combat actually becomes easier the more you progress, as it becomes built into your muscle memory.
Indeed, this is a problem which plagues the entirety of Infinity Runner. The early stages tend to be more difficult as you contend with the controls and learn what is and isn’t a hazard, but once you’ve got the hang of it, the game is a breeze. Occasionally it throws something new at you which will kill you, but once you know it’s there, you can adjust accordingly. As a result, the game fails to be a real challenge. When you do die, it’s rarely because it has set you a significant test; more commonly, it’s because it has unfairly introduced something new and given you insufficient time to react.
This problem even extends to the tutorials. On several occasions we were forced to replay a section just to read the instructions that were being provided, as the game didn’t give enough time to read them the first time. Unsurprisingly, this quickly becomes frustrating, and the trial and error nature of it clashes badly with the otherwise fast-paced gameplay. Sometimes you may even be unaware of what exactly killed you, and even repeated play may fail to identify the culprit. Our advice when this happens? Jump. You’re normally just tripping over something.
There’s a story which attempts to make sense of all the running you’re doing, but it doesn’t really succeed at its task. You play as a prisoner who escapes from confinement with the help of a woman called Riley, who you only ever encounter on computer monitors or through a telepathic link. She reveals to you that you are actually a werewolf who was being tested on, and that she wants to help you escape the ship. Her major piece of advice on this front? “Run!”
Unfortunately, the story fails to be any deeper than this. You never learn anything about your character or get a sense of who they are, and Riley is far from the most engaging personality gaming has ever produced. You never learn why she is helping you, either; the game finishes in the most unsatisfactory manner and doesn’t explain anything. Becoming a werewolf most affects the gameplay rather than the plot, as it makes combat automatic, grants new abilities, and lets you access new areas of the ship.
There are other problems which hamstring the story, too, most notably the poor writing. Riley’s voice actress does a reasonable enough job, but far too often she is left floundering with silly lines. There are a fair few grammatical errors in the text, such as missing apostrophes (the most common crime) and confusion between “your” and “you’re”. More dangerously, however, the story simply fails to make sense far too often. For example, at one point you are knocked out by a rival werewolf who has been hunting you all game. You wake up in a new area with no explanation, completely unharmed – and then the other werewolf proceeds to hunt you down again! Why he didn’t just finish you off the first time remains a mystery.
In fact, there isn’t much about Infinity Runner which makes sense. For example, Riley tells you to collect “data-packets” which increase your score as you run through the ship – but what exactly they are is never explained, and they don’t actually do anything practical. More worrying is the fact that you often won’t know why your character is running. Sometimes there is no imminent danger and yet on and on he goes, endlessly hurtling down narrow corridors filled with toxic sludge and plasma leaks. He even keeps running when the power fails and the lights go out, even though he can’t see where he’s going.
Of course, it’s not exactly a disappointment when the lights go out, as Infinity Runner isn’t the most exciting game to look at. The environments tend to be fairly dull, and whatever spectacular moments there are – such as leaping through a gap in the ship, flying through zero-gravity with wreckage all around – are diluted by repetition. The graphics are pretty simplistic too; this review was carried out on the PlayStation 4, and the game couldn’t have looked more out of place on a next-gen console if it tried.
Infinity Runner is far from the worst way to pass the time, but it won’t occupy you for long as it takes a mere couple of hours to complete. An arcade mode is designed to add some content, but in all honesty, the gameplay isn’t strong enough that you’ll want to delve into it. You won’t even want to read the lore which is unlocked by obtaining collectables, again thanks to the poor grammar and asinine logic plaguing it. Infinity Runner has some good concepts and plays okay enough that you won’t hate it, but it simply doesn’t cohere sufficiently to enamour you of it either.