With the night’s drawing in and a distinctive chill in the air, it’s definitely feeling like what the “cool” kids call spooky season. So what better way to embrace it than a digital scare or two?
Well Germany based studio Hekate have you covered with their latest title Ad Infinitum – which is an atmospheric horror game that blends real world events and fantasy together for a most unnerving of results. It presents a very complex and often heavy tale split between a conflict ripping your mother and father apart and your time during the First World War, fighting for the German’s knee deep in the trenches. Where the overriding tones are ultimately of family and loss, though with such a grand idea you may think the developers are overreaching a little and you would be right, as there are a few rough edges, but it holds it together just enough to ride out the storm.
Gameplay in Ad Infinitum is spilt into two very different places, the first being the hulking manor of your childhood. This is a labyrinth of locked doors and forgotten memories… good and bad. As you explore you find handy items that you’ll use to solve evermore challenging puzzles, that open up more of the house and your memories. The puzzles are OK with only a few having to take a bit of time to work out, though they are sometimes a little heavy on the backtracking side of things and they are maybe a bit to linear as well. The second side of the game throws you head first into the trenches; where you will be truly fighting to survive. As the gameplay moves its tone to a more stealth focused affair, where you’ll be running from much more than the English. It’s clear to see the monstrosities that hunts you here are very much linked to the traumas you witness: from finding the dog tags of the fallen, lost notes to love ones or even the blinded solider begging for morphine to end his pain. It all creates a truly grim and haunting image of what unfolded during this darkest of times in humanity.
Visually the game looks good for the most part; from the environments to the lighting work, everything sets a fitting tone and mood. Also worth a shout is the creature designs on show, as some are quite unnerving at times as they get up close and very personal. Sound-wise it’s composed very well, creates a forbidding atmosphere that dances between feeling like a horror and a thriller at times… where you never know what’s waiting around the corner. Voice acting is of a good standard with that of your mother and father adding extra layers of emotion to the tale. As touched on, the games ambition often feels like it’s much grander than its resources, so a lot of the issues you’ll find feel like limitations, like muddy textures, glitches and bugs. Ad Infinitum sets out to tell a horror fuelled tale, but lands more on the thriller and psychological side of things. Yes, it’s technically a walking sim in ways with added extras, but its tale is interesting enough to pull you through its horrors, while dealing with some truly heavy subject matters around family, PTSD and how you deal with your own monsters.
An Xbox review copy of Ad Infinitum was provided by Hekate’s PR team, and the game is out now on Xbox, PC and PlayStation for around £35.