If InFlux were a boy (or girl), it’d be the one I took home to meet my parents. It’s good looking, undemanding, mentally stimulating, and doesn’t jerk me around—all of which are admirable qualities for a game to have. Unfortunately, those qualities also contribute to the game’s biggest weakness, but I’ll get to that at the end of this review. The experience’s tone is set right from the main menu, as you stare at a glass house on a picturesque island. Soothing sounds of the night wash over you as the game waits, patiently, for you to decide if you want to engage with it or not. It’s all very relaxed and meditative, a mood that remains consistent throughout the entire game thanks to lush visuals and dreamy synth soundtrack.
You control a little blue ball as it explores the island, collecting blue motes and solving puzzles contained in glass houses. The end goal is… well, I’ll keep that close to my chest because it’s clear Impromptu Games want the game to be one that you ascribe your own meaning to. As a result, they’ve kept the story deliberately vague, and I don’t want to prime you with my own suppositions. Gameplay is divided into two major activities. First, you’ll explore the nearly photo-realistic island, hunting for those glowing blue motes, which are used to unlock glass houses scattered throughout. Once a house is opened, you can enter it, which is where the meat of the gameplay resides.
Inside each house is a puzzle best described as a 3D version of Labyrinth—the game, not the movie—in which the goal is to get a colored orb into an identically-colored box. It starts off simply enough, but complexity is added as you progress. By the end of the game, you’ll have learned how to deal with platforms, pits, elevators, fans, flippers, and even level rotations. A strong ability for spatial thinking will be your ally here. I didn’t pay attention to exactly how many puzzles are in the game, but there are six chapters with roughly 3 glass houses each. Adding in the handful of minor challenges you’ll face in the island hub area and the count goes up to over twenty. I found that number enough to be satisfying without becoming boring. In fact, the game ends at what felt like the perfect time. I wasn’t left wanting more, nor did I feel like the game overstayed its welcome either.
The only negatives are technological ones. As I’ve said, the game is rendered in near-realistic detail, and that means I had to turn the graphical settings all the way down to get a decent 60 frames per second performance. That’s not surprising given my video card, but I’ve gotten used to console ports that run at max settings while barely taxing my system. What was surprising, however, were the massive framerate drops I periodically experienced as the island and houses loaded dynamically during play. There isn’t a loading screen throughout the game, which is great, but iMacs are notorious for having slow hard drives, so my computer did get brought to its knees as a result. Once I stopped moving and waited for a few seconds it became playable again, so in the end this wasn’t that big a deal.
The controls are standard WASD+mouse, with the mouse buttons and spacebar handling all necessary interactions, or you can also use the Xbox controller if that’s your fancy. Both work well, and the keyboard can be redefined if necessary. I didn’t experience any crashes or weirdness, other than a terrible and unexplainable headache while playing fullscreen—something I’ve never experienced while gaming ever before.
Conclusion—Is It Worth The Money?
InFlux is worth the $10 the developers are charging, and if you love spatial puzzles you’ll love what it has to offer. But here’s the caveat I hinted at the start of this review. InFlux is a good game but, like the boy you’d introduce to your parents, it’s also an uninspiring one. I had a great time with it, but once the game was over, I uninstalled it and never looked back. While it’s worth paying full price, it’s also not something that falls into the “OMG you have to play this right now” category, so I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to hold off for a sale.
- Time Played—5 Hours
- Widescreen Support—Yes
- Resolution Played—1280×720, Windowed
- Windowed Mode—Yes
- FOV Slider—No
- 5.1 Audio Support—No
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered—Physics didn’t work as intended; had to restart
- Control Scheme—Keyboard+Mouse, Controller
- System Specs—Core firstname.lastname@example.orgGHz, 8GB RAM, Radeon HD 6770M 512MB
- Game Acquisition Method—Review Copy
- Availability—Official Site
- Demo—No, developers suggest that, if you really need to try-before-you-buy, you should pirate it and make a purchase later on.