inFAMOUS First Light: Review

step into the shoes of the neon-fuelled fetch for infAmous: second son’s standalone expansion.
One of the greatest follies of modern-day gaming is the trend of downloadable content, season passes and microtransactions.

Game developers have become fiendishly clever at extracting money out of us. After charging some ridiculous prices for games, they soon realised that if the game is good enough, they can charge some more. But as Delsin Rowe of Infamous: Second Son and Cole McGrath of the previous instalments discovered, powers can be used for both evil and good. The DLC trend gave us some fantastic expansions that explored new ideas, such as Far Cry 3’s Blood Dragon and Infamous 2’s own Festival of Blood. In the case of Infamous: First Light though, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and like Infamous: Second Son, it’s a well-rounded disappointment.
“There are moments of pure glee when your powers come together in a symphony
of destruction, but everything else tends to pull things down.”
Infamous: First Light, and indeed Second Son, aren’t disappointing because they’re bad, but rather because they had so much potential. In both instalments, there are moments of pure glee, especially when your powers come together in a symphony of destruction, but everything else tends to pull things down. Let’s start with the story.

First Light a standalone single-player expansion to Infamous: Second Son puts you in the shoes of Abigail Walker or Fetch, the neon-powered conduit you meet in the main game. The story begins with Augustine (the main antagonist from Second Son) interviewing Fetch about her past at the conduit prison, Curden Cay, while simultaneously putting her through training in battle arenas.

These battle arenas come equipped with a number of challenges that the player can indulge in outside of the main story. In fact, if you own Second Son, you can play through these arenas as Delsin as well and pit yourself against waves after waves of enemies. While they are an interesting enough distraction, they didn’t really hold me beyond their required tasks in the story.

The story takes you back two years, where Fetch and her brother Brent are trying to pull one last job to escape and start a new life in Canada. As you would expect, things don’t go as planned and Brent ends up getting abducted, setting up this roughly three-hour adventure for you. Fetch’s story is definitely tighter and better than Delsin’s, partly because it’s shorter and partly because Fetch is a far more likeable character than Delsin. Her dependency on Brent, especially for her emotional well-being, comes out as a believable motivation for doing the things she does, something that was sorely lacking in Second Son.

The story stumbles towards the end though, primarily because at some pivotal moments, the game takes away the choice between good and evil; something that has been a hallmark of the series. Instead, you watch these moments go by, doing exactly what you’re told to do via on-screen prompts. For a game that has always given choice at such defining moments, suddenly having it taken away felt a little jarring.

“At some pivotal moments, the game takes away the choice between good and evil; something that has been a hallmark of the series.”
You’d expect things to go a little better on the gameplay front, but unfortunately the fundamental problems that exist with Second Son carry over to First Light chief among them being the city of Seattle itself. Games like Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs have spoilt us by giving us living, breathing worlds that exude a collective personality and charm. Infamous’ Seattle, by comparison, is dull and drab and serves merely as a stomping ground for its superpowered inhabitants.

The most interesting thing I have ever seen an NPC in Seattle do is scream in terror. Playing as Fetch means that you’re restricted to a single set of powers, which would have been a downer if the neon powers weren’t hands down the best amongst all of them. Sucker Punch did a good job streamlining the neon powers as well, so you have some new moves now, such as the quick melee finisher and the neon homing missiles, making Fetch suitable for both long-range and close quarters combat. You can hang back and try to bring down enemies by targeting their weak spots, or go in punching and blasting anything that comes your way.

The best part about the neon powers in Second Son was the sheer joy of movement as a neon haze at breakneck speed. Sucker Punch has made this more awesome here by adding neon swirls around town. As you race your way through them, you temporarily gain speed and momentum, allowing you to move faster and jump farther. These swirls have been placed frequently enough for you to chain them with ease and move around Seattle with reckless abandon.

The side missions of First Light try to take full advantage of these abilities. In neon races, the player is tasked with chasing a fast moving lumen a neon cloud that awards a skill point when collected. These lumens are also placed in plain view, but in difficult-to-reach locations. Figuring out how to reach a particularly elusive lumen, and then executing it perfectly is one of the rare high points of the game.

The rest of the side missions are generic at best. Apparently, it is must for conduits to express themselves via some form of graffiti (in the case of Fetch, you have neon graffiti). The simple days when conduits could express themselves by zapping you in the face with their powers are long gone. So in the name of misplaced character development, you can indulge in sullying the walls around the city with some rather spectacular looking neon art. The other side mission, where you must locate and destroy a drone by accessing its camera, is equally trite.

I can only recommend Infamous: First Light to the gentleman at the back who was the only one to raise his hand when I asked for die-hard fans of Infamous Second Son. The three-hour adventure which can be extended by a couple of hours if you are obsessed with completion is simply not worth it. For everything it does right, it gets two things wrong, all the while reminding us of the potential that has been squandered.

RATING: 5 /10

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