Review: inFAMOUS: First Light

INFOLast February Sucker Punch showed what they could do with the new hardware with the sequel inFAMOUS: Second Son, but does this standalone expansion hold up, and is it worth the $23 admission price?

StoryinFAMOUS: First Light acts as the prequel chapter to its retail counterpart Second Son. The narrative shifts between Fetch’s imprisonment in the D.U.P. Curdun Cay prison and two years ago where her back story from Second Son takes place. Fetch is a troubled young woman who has been roaming the streets with her brother for years. Betrayed by her parents she and her brother go down a dark path of criminality and drugs, and Fetch’s brother is the only one who can help Fetch keep it all together. After a job goes wrong Fetch’s brother Brent is taken and she starts a desperate search to get him back. But without her brother Fetch struggles to keep everything together, and for the first time in her life she has to survive on her own.

The story seems to lean more on its personal themes, and the entire DUP/Conduit storylines that the franchise usually brings forward is pushed to the back in order to focus more on the emotional journey of the character herself. The narrative itself is solid, however sometimes its open-world and gameplay mechanics can really mess with the flow of the story due to the freedom in between missions. Of course the entire idea of the inFAMOUS is freedom for the player, however the pace of the narrative seems to be interrupted in these intervals. Some of the emotional payoffs seemed to be a little rushed, and considering these include some of the key moments in her background story this is a little disappointing.

As a character Fetch seems to be a bit more interesting than Delsin in a way because her story has already been crafted and better though out, and players won’t be able to change the outcome of events due to the lack of karmic events which are usually present in the franchise. The storyline and characters are pretty interesting, but even though First Light has a pretty decent playtime for a digital game its narrative is rushed through a bit too much at times.

PresentationVisually First Light is pretty much identical to Second Son. Lighting and modeling are of high quality and show off some of the best visual material the PS4 has to offer so far. The main environments of the game are identical to those of Second Son, and visually you won’t see any difference as the game is running on the same framework and models. The game does introduce some new environments such as Curdun Cay and its surroundings, which are by far the most interesting sections of the game visually. Here we get to see two new kinds of environments which we’ve never seen in the franchise before as we enter the interior of the Curdun Cay prison and briefly get to explore the snowy exterior, which looks very polished and offered some nice variety visually.

Screen4Particle effects are heavily present due to the nature of Fetch’s neon-based powers, and the colors and animations are incredibly impressive to see. Even though most of these effects and models have been seen before they’re still very well-crafted. The city of Seattle however, while looking very good visually it does seem a bit lifeless when you roam through it. NPC characters and vehicles roam the streets, but the structures and such seem hollow, and in the end there isn’t that much interactivity with the enviroment. Because of this looking at the enviroment itself is still pleasing, but after roaming the city for a while you really begin to nice that there just isn’t that much going on around you.

The menus have been updated and redesigned slightly as it has to cater to the addition of the arena modes and is pretty user-friendly and visually pleasing. It’s easy to navigate and everything you need is laid out simple and clearly, making the UI easy to use and functional.

The main story of First Light plays out pretty much identically to Second Son itself. This time the gameplay is based around neon as the sole power, rather than the array of powers Delsin had in his arsenal. At first glance that may seem disappointing, but the simplicity of a single power and the new additions to the neon arsenal are actually pretty good when you’re using them, and the fact that you’ll only have to focus on a single power source did actually seem to improve the experience for me personally. Some may be disappointed at the lack of Second Son’s other powers, but First Light’s arsenal in the end is more than enough to kick some serious ass. inFAMOUS: First Light introduces the addition of challenges, which when completed provide points to buy upgrades for Fetch’s powers, which you’ll without a doubt need. These points can also be acquired by collecting collectibles but to fully upgrade your character you’re going to have to do both.

The combat of the game should feel pretty familiar to returning players, and both the superpowers and physical combat options are fluid and easy to master for pretty much any player. You’ll have a wide array of options and it’s your call whether you get into the action up close or stand back and take down your enemies from a distance. Most levels should give you the freedom to adapt and find your own way to handle your situation, but some missions will put you in a fixed position in a sniper-esque gameplay section for example, which the game has a few of. Climbing and parkour usually aren’t used for traversal unless the player chooses to as you’ll have control over Lightspeed traversal mechanics which make climbing and such pretty much obsolete. You’ll have no options to upgrade the speed of your Lightspeed powers but instead you’ll be given specific points on the map which will give you a speed boost every time you hit through these spots. This way you’ll pretty much be getting from point A to point B in no time, and its mechanics are pretty easy to get a hang of. The parkour itself however is pretty clunky, and often you’ll be hanging onto stuff you didn’t even want to hang onto in the first place. Luckily as I said you won’t be having to use much of it.

The layouts of the missions seem a bit generic at times, and often you’ll feel like you’re doing the same thing you did a while ago. The gameplay in its core is still very fun, and as a long time fan of the franchise I’m always happy to have more of the gameplay I know and love. But in the end there’s definitely a lack of diversity that affects the replayability of the main game as a whole and of course in its endgame. Side-missions are often lacking in variety, and due to the limited amount of missions in this smaller scale of gameplay your completion of the main game shouldn’t take more than 4 hours at most. inFAMOUS: Second Son shares some of these issues, but due to its longer length there’s more content and a bit more variety gameplay wise, which First Light lacks a bit due to its limited scale. The same thing goes for the open world, which is limited to the first Island of Seattle rather than the complete city which we got to explore previously.

First Light in exchange does offer something extra through the new Battle Arena. Here players are given multiple levels to play through in which they can place their score in a worldwide ranking and complete challenges which also count towards upgrading Fetch’s powers. There are to different kinds of modes in the Battle Arena: Survival and Rescue. Survival is pretty straightforward and has you fend off waves of enemies to survive. Here however the waves can intersect and initiate at the count of a timer rather than completing the waves themselves. Due to this you’re very likely to start stacking enemies and this can definitely cause a lot of bottlenecking if you don’t get rid of the past enemies in time. Rescue is set up in a similar fashion, but has you saving hostages in between the action. Initially you’ll be fending off enemies but every time the timer hits zero you’ll be given the task to save a hostage, which all have their own health bar and a set of enemies whose only goal is to kill them. You won’t have much time to save these hostages, and you’ll need to hurry to their location and defeat these enemies as soon as they appear on your mini-map as you’re only allowed five failures before the game ends.

Battle mode is arguably the best thing about First Light, and it really uses the combat system and Fetch’s powers to their full potential. There are only a few difficulties for the modes but you’ll probably be spending some good time beating the high scores of your friends and of course your own. Players with a Second Son save on their system will also be able to play through these arenas as Delsin, including his full set of powers.