I’ve had a good chunk of time with InFamous: Second Son now. I’ve unlocked new powers, had boss fights, met new characters and really gotten comfortable in the role of Delsin and that of being a conduit.
There’s no doubt in my mind, that this game lives up to the hype and love that people gave it a few years back when it first came out. There’s a lot of fun to be had, and you’re always moving the story forward, which is great.
Whilst I’m not finished with the story yet, I feel like I’d be surprised if there was anything drastically new or dynamic-shifting in my final few hours, but that’s no bad thing. It’s already great, why change that?
The life of a conduit
You could feel bad for Delsin, finding out by accident that you’re a “bio terrorist” or “conduit”. Why would you though? He gets cool powers and can absorb new ones from others! If anything, I’d be pretty pleased about being in such a position, although maybe not in his shoes when it comes to the circumstances……
Anyway, you get your initial smoke-based powers from an escaped convict, by accident. You touch him, experience his memories and his story, and absorb the abilities. Cool eh? Yep!
Then, you meet Fetch, who’s a young girl that has “neon” powers, same again, touch, absorb, learn about the character.
After that, I’ve acquired the “video” powers from (spoiler!) Eugene. This lead to the same again.
I quite enjoy the exposition it provides, giving some quick character development, and world-building, whilst still giving you cool new abilites. It works really nicely, as do the follow-on missions where you work with the power-provider to help steer them in the right direction by choosing to do a “good” or “bad” mission with them.
Working with the other conduits is great. The dynamic between Delsin and the others is really cool, you learn from them, yet you’re helping steer them in the “right” direction. They’re well voice-acted, and they’re useful allies when doing those missions.
The abilities themselves are all similar but very different. When you break it down, you have a traversal ability, a dash, of sorts. With smoke, you dash shortly, but can travel through fences and vents. With neon, you’re literally neon light and can just run up walls with ease (canopies permitting…..). Finally, with video, you get digital wings and you can quickly glide away, and again, “fly” up buildings.
All pretty cool! Slight variations of the same thing, with very different visuals.
The same goes for the other abilities. You invariably have a “heavy” projectile attack, a means of subduing the enemies so you can choose to incapacitate them lethally or not, a “light” projectile attack, and a ground-smash.
This is over-simplifying it a little, and it’s perhaps a bit unfair, because I find myself switching between power sets quite a lot to make best use of my arsenal.
With neon, you can unlock the ability to aim, and slow-down time to get some accurate shots, giving you the chance to kill or incapacitate your enemies. You can turn invisible with video, which gives you chance to sneak up, and stun or kill foes.
It all comes down to practicality. What power source is close by? How frantic is the action? What will help me gain things like karma points, quickest, whilst I can easily get away and retreat when it gets overwhelming? You need to be thinking and changing on-the-fly, and that flow is what makes the game so fun. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as it were.
Getting enough karma (good, in my experience, as opposed to “evil”), gives you access to a special move. These moves are super-cool and great for clearing out massive groups of enemies at once. A simple press of the “down” button on your d-pad, and you’re setting off a little cinematic, that shows you using your “ultimate” attack, based on whichever set of abilities you’re using. These look awesome, they’re always fun to use, and really really helpful!
Types of power
All these powers need charging and upgrading. After unlocking abilities, you learn how to keep them charged.
Smoke, unsurprisingly comes from absorbing smoke. So, chimneys on rooftops, or cars that you’ve blown-up (nice touch!), are great sources.
Neon comes from the neon signs around the city, of which there are plenty. Adorning the rooftops, ledges and doors/windows of shops, restaurants and practically any other building you can find.
Video is the most interesting to me because it’s relatively easy to come by, but it was so subliminal in the game before I could use it, I thought nothing of it. With satellites and screens everywhere, including bus stops, I realised how prolific screens really are in modern life. Just drain from them, and off you go.
So, you have your powers, you know how to keep them charged. Easy, right?
Switching between ability sets isn’t a click of a button, so you can’t just switch what you want to use. You can change when you want to, though. You simply absorb the type of energy you need, and then you’ve charged up that skill set.
It’s quite an eloquent solution really. You can only ever have one set of powers at a time, but you’re never too far away from an energy source to switch, whenever you want to.
One aspect of InFamous Second Son is that of karma. You are faced with decisions along the way that result in “good” or “bad”. Do you spray paint something “good”? Do you execute the enemies? Should you guide your new ally down the path of chaos, or order?
It’s all very black and white (red and blue actually), and a little ham-fisted to be honest, but it doesn’t detract from the game, and the bonus powers I’ve gotten from being “good” are pretty cool.
I noticed that the bird icon on the back of my jacket was changing as my rating went up, which is a nice touch. Currently sat at “Paragon” I think? So I’ve made almost exclusively “good” choices, and only accidentally executed a few people.
Worth coming back to, to try out being evil? I’m not sure. I’d like to see the differences though.
By my count, I’ve had 4 “boss fights”. Each more arduous than the last. Where the strength of InFamous is the open world and verticality, allowing you the freedom to attack and retreat as you wish, the boss fights lock you in tiny enclosed spaces.
There are a few points to drain energy from, no space to get up high, and you just have to spam the heavy attack until they’re downed enough to start the cycle again.
I like the context of the bouts (new enemy type, trying to appease a new potential conduit friend or the boss lady herself) within the story, but they’re just not fun. Not particularly hard, but it’s all about running around, spamming the same button, dashing away, charging up and doing it again.
I see why they exist, but they’re not fun experiences to be honest.
Coming to a close
InFamous Second Son has impressed me quite a lot, and about 90% of the time I’ve been having a great deal of fun.
I’ve never felt forced to complete certain side-quests before the story can continue, the powers look and feel great, the city is a great playground that feels pretty alive. Honestly, it’s a good game, and I know how I’ll rate it based on my experience so far.
It’s definitely accessible and enjoyable. Not sure how much I have left, and I don’t feel the urge to stick around and clean-up the side-quests, so I’ll just make my own fun and finish it off when it comes to it.
Final thoughts and review, to follow.
Sidenote: Photo mode is very cool, although everything seems to come out really dark? That, and everyone else online takes waaaay better pictures than me! I’ll be doing the “final thoughts” post, just to try and show off some better screenshots!