Infinifactory: A game for anyone that likes improbable learning curves

Infinifactory is a difficult game. It’s probably harder than The Talos Principle, it’s definitely trickier than Puzzle Dimension, and it’s certainly a lot more challenging than Portal. But it’s a game worth mentioning amongst such esteemed titles, because, in its own way, Infinifactory is new. It’s doing something that hasn’t been done before.

Okay, maybe that’s a stretch it has been done before, but only in Zachtronic’s other first-person construction puzzler, Infiniminer. “I think we’re most well-known for our engineering puzzle games,” creator Zach Barth tells us as we’re sitting at one end of an international video call, clicking around on the Early Access build of Infinifactory. “Infinifactory builds on the idea [Zachtronics] put out in Infiniminer and for a long while I wanted to build another game with blocks, but I didn’t think I could because all I thought was ‘Oh some other asshole made a game with blocks’ [laughter].”

Barth is of course referring to Minecraft his previous project, Infiniminer, is often cited as the first voxel-based mining game, which Notch heavily riffed off to create the pan-global phenomenon that is Minecraft. But it’s clear Barth is past that now, and we’re glad, because Infinifactory is much more directed inits aim there’s no aimless wandering here, the world is instead populated with interesting physical puzzles, problems that require lateral thinking to get your head around.
“ In a lot of other puzzle games, you’re just working out a path that the developers intended ”
We’re (admittedly) lost; we know we’re supposed to get a certain amount of resources from one place to another, but so far all we’ve succeeded in doing is making a conveyor belt to nowhere. “So our games kinda revolve around building stuff, but they’re really open-ended,” he explains. He’s right our conveyor belt has just dumped precious resources off a cliff-face. There’s very little introduction to the game, but we get the feeling that’s intentional: this game is making you work for your rewards.

“In a lot of other puzzle games, you’re just working out a path that the developers intended you to work through. Our puzzle games are totally open-ended like, we say ‘Construct a device that does X’. So right now you’ve got to build a factory, right, that takes these [resources] and allows you to build another thing. That’s our special genre.”

Zachtronics spent some time making educational games before starting work on Infinifactory games that introduced pretty difficult concepts (Rube Goldberg-esque chemical pathways, for example…) and simplified them as much as possible with game-friendly UX. This logical, problem-solving methodology has clearly influenced how Infinifactory has been made. It’s cinematic, too, in its own way with a bizarro alien overlord theme and a setting reminiscent of Texas… it’s like someone slammed Jay and Silent Bob into Portal and threw in an ounce of Catherine for good measure. Which of course is only a good thing.

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