I’ve never been less excited for an inFAMOUS game than I was for First Light. Being limited to only a portion of the city and cutting down Second Son’s four powers to a mere one didn’t sound too appealing to me. And, if you put it that way, it still doesn’t. The thing is, First Light is much more than that. Sucker Punch have given reasons to re-explore Seattle and introduced new ways to have fun. Despite the small package it appears to come in, First Light is no less than a great thing.
This time around you play as Abigail ‘Fetch’ Walker, the punk neon-powered conduit from Second Son. Fetch is imprisoned in Curdun Cay, a prison for those with powers, where she tells the story of herself and brother Brent. Fetch and Brent’s dealings with drugs and gangs are playable flashbacks where the bulk of the story takes place. If you’ve played Second Son, you have an idea of how it ends, but it might surprise you just a little bit. If you haven’t, you won’t be missing anything plot-wise. It’s an interesting enough story, with a bunch of new characters and a few twists and turns Fetch failed to mention during Second Son. The way it plays out reminds me more of the original inFAMOUS than SS, in a good way. Most storytelling comes across in dialogue during gameplay, and less focus on cinematics is well suited to a smaller game.
The easy way out for gameplay design would have been for Fetch to play just like Delsin did when using neon abilities. I was assuming this was the case, and I was sorely mistaken. Though Fetch’s move set is largely similar to Second Son’s hero, it’s more than different enough to create a gameplay experience new and interesting enough to stay fun for the length of First Light. I considered neon the accuracy based power in SS, and that’s built on here. Depending on how many upgrades you’ve got your hands on, Fetch can shoot enemies’ weak points to keep time slowed, all the while incapacitating them or even turning them to fight for her. It takes a great mechanic from SS and expands it to the point where this approach to fighting enemies feels like a really rewarding test of speed and shooting prowess.
There are other approaches to take though, if accuracy isn’t your thing. Fetch can fire neon-bolts rapidly, push enemies into the air with a stasis blast or send out neon homing missiles. After enough enemies have been disposed of, Fetch can perform a Singularity – a huge ball of neon energy that sucks everyone around into its destructive centre. While Second Son catered to different play styles by letting players use whichever ability they preferred, First Light manages to give fairly diverse gameplay options with just one, and I never once felt I didn’t have enough powers.
Perhaps my favourite thing about the inFAMOUS games is traversing a city while collecting and completing items and objectives. I wasn’t a big fan of the blast shards in Second Son – they were all on your map, so all you had to do was follow it. First Light has a new collectible in the form of Lumens, and while these are also shown on your map, they’re much more interesting and tricky to acquire. Neon gates around Seattle give Fetch a speed boost when she dashes through them, so catching up to a big moving Lumen or getting the speed to jump high enough to reach a particularly high up one depends on the use of these speed boosts. Each collectible feels like a little platforming challenge, rather than a reward for simply going to a point you’re told to. There are more side missions around Seattle as well, and though they’re slightly different to those in Second Son, they’re not overly interesting.
As well as the open city gameplay typical of the series, First Light features arena battles. These are either Rescue missions, in which the player saves as many hostages as they can from holographic thugs, or Survival, where players simply stay alive for as long as possible. Three things keep these from being boring; multipliers, power-ups, and challenges. Your multiplier climbs as you rack-up kills and falls if you take too long to take someone out. This means playing overly defensively won’t get you a very good score. Power-ups are fairly trivial, but getting unlimited finishers or invulnerability for a short time is a fun novelty to keep gameplay interesting and encourage you to play in different ways.
The challenges are most important, tying the free roam and battle arena modes together. While some are specific to certain arenas, others are attainable at any time. They range from high scores in an arena, to killing specific enemies in certain ways. They’re pretty typical, but as the only reward arenas offer, they become the measure of your abilities and completion. Leaderboards have also been included for the competitive minded, and I couldn’t think of a better way to make inFAMOUS competitive without direct multiplayer.
First Light uses the same assets as Second Son, so it’s largely the same visually. The environments, character models and effects all look as great here as they did in SS. The singularity power in particular is fantastic to watch, with bodies flying from all around into a stunning bright light. One thing stood out to me as strange though; the facial models of some of the major characters are strikingly similar to others from Second Son. Actors were recast in different roles, so whether it’s a matter of reusing models or just an inherent issue with using the same actors, it took me out of the story a bit.
inFAMOUS: First Light is a great game, and one that expands the inFAMOUS universe wonderfully. A focus on accuracy in combat and traversal result in a more meticulous, almost puzzle-style game, and stripping it back to one playable power doesn’t ever feel limited. Fetch’s story is interesting and enjoyable, and the way she plays is much the same. As a supplement to Second Son or an introduction to the inFAMOUS universe, First Light is more than worthy.
Please Note: This review was based on the PS4 version of the game, and purchased at retail by the writer for the purpose of review.