Infamous: First Light Review

September 21, 2014

Upon picking up a PlayStation 4 only a few months ago, one of the first games I secured for my collection was Infamous: Second Son. I’d dabbled in a little of the previous two titles and found them a mixed bag of great and not so great, but ultimately thoroughly enjoyed what Second Son delivered, even if I felt the overall direction and content was dragged down by what to me is evidence of a game rushed to meet a launch window. The words I’m looking for here are diversity and variety; I would have liked to see more of both in Deslin’s adventure, but the overall package stood heads and shoulders above its predecessors. Gotta love having multiple powers at your disposal and a satisfying combat system.

More to the point, my enjoyment of Second Son was great enough to warrant interest in First Light, a stand alone mission pack of sorts following Deslin’s partner in good/evil; Fetch. Fetch’s involvement in Second Son was a mix of significant and minimal (a criticism of the latter title’s narrative for another time…), and her character interesting enough to explore a new story. At first I was a bit sceptical, as to me it seemed enough exposition had been given on Fetch’s background and place within the Infamous universe that a retelling wouldn’t be necessary. But here it is, and to be perfectly honest it changes enough of what Deslin learned through her memories to stand as its own narrative. Not that it contradicts what Fetch tells Deslin, so much as expands on it so significantly that it kind of becomes its own beast.

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Contextually Fetch’s narrative is told in an interesting way; Fetch has been caught by Augustine and is being held at the DUP home base for questioning. As Augustine digs deep into Fetch’s past, you will swap between Fetch’s memories in Seattle and the then present DUP. Both of these locations/timelines serve narrative purposes and basis for gameplay, the former offering Second Son-like world exploration and missions, the latter opened up as a training ground. Those fond of the Infamous combat system will be pleased to know this training ground can be utilised by both Fetch and Deslin, designated challenges having you killing and rescuing against the clock and even comparing your records to the rest of the world. The DUP home base is very much your classic arcade mode, and while I personally wasn’t too crazy about it, I can certainly appreciate the inclusion and appeal it will have to others.

However, you’ll spend most of Fetch’s adventure in Seattle (the first island, the second inaccessible), which in similar fashion to Second Son will have you completing optional and primary missions. Fetch’s story actually takes place noticeably earlier than the events of Second Son, to the point where the DUP presence in Seattle is almost non-existent. I thought this was a simple yet really neat twist on the premise of Second Son, giving insight into Seattle before the DUP rolled in and, as you move through the plot, even learning a little as to why and how.

This prologue theme is made contextually relevant in the various little side missions and collectables that, for most part, are a twist on Second Son. Mostly in a low tech sense. Where Deslin ran around shooting down gyrocopters carrying magic crystals, Fetch must hunt down newly introduced flying security cams by tapping into their feed to learn their locations. Deslin takes out DUP vans, Fetch chases down drive-by shooting gangster. Fundamentally it’s the same thing; shoot the flying thing, get the points, buy the powers. Or blow up the vehicle and occupants. But I liked how these, among other things, took into account how Seattle was before the DUP set up their police state as a template for how to change up old ideas to at least somewhat resemble something new.

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I was a little worried that going from Deslin’s multi-power buffet to Fetch’s single neon power would be downgrade, but it’s really not. To be blunt, I actually enjoyed exploring Seattle more with Fetch than I ever did with Deslin. This is due to changes in speed and momentum made to Fetch’s neon power over Deslin’s adaptation, in particular the extra attention spent on Fetch’s jumps (she has a super jump!) and the addition of speed bubbles/clouds scattered around the city. With Deslin you had to work to a power’s strength and weaknesses, where Neon was gotta go fast at the expense of air time. Fetch has the best of both worlds, able to go fast and hurl herself with a gigantic leap. Neon running into a bubble cloud gives you an additional speed boost, giving you a tremendous sense of momentum, speed, and control over your exploration. Unlike Deslin there doesn’t feel like a trade-off with the power, it’s just all good and perfect for getting around quickly and easily.

These power additions are again mixed into collectables and missions, often requiring huge leaps of faith to collect suspended goodies, or chaining together speed bubbles to catch fast moving bonus points. This is actually where I feel First Light beats out Second Son; utilising the open world as a fulfilling sandbox to use your powers. With Deslin I often felt it didn’t really matter what power you had outside of a mission, as the game world never demanded one or the other. First Light is different. Sure, you only have one power, but this power is integrated into the tiny little mission arcs, side quests, and collectable goodies so seamlessly that neon becomes an essential tool to do more or less everything. Ironic, really; one of my favourite components of Second Son, the multi-power feat, is bested by First Light‘s exclusivity.

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The only glaring concern I have towards First Light is value. I think I’ve said it before with similar expansion packs, and I hate to be so uncommitted, but value is just so subjective I cannot decide for you whether or not First Light is worth the investment. Admittedly it is pretty short and simple, and you’ve only got one of two islands to play with. I thoroughly enjoyed the content present, and the arena/challenge mode will enhance value for score hunters, but there’s no denying First Light is built very much off the Second Son template, most of the additions expanding, alternating, or supplementing what Second Son fans will be very familiar with. For this reason I’d probably shy away from a physical release, where you’re paying a premium price for a packaging that’s not entirely backed up by the content found within.

That being said for AU$22.95 the digital release of First Light is, in my opinion, great value. Less so if you’re tired of Second Son, but nonetheless a strong package of Second Son‘s strengths with a handful of fixes towards its weaknesses, doing away with a lot of the franchise fluff (like the silly moral choice system) for a more refined vision. In many ways Fetch is a more enjoyable character to play over Deslin, in combat and in exploration, and that achievement alone should excite all fans of the Infamous franchise. Coupled with an interesting retelling of Fetch’s background with some great set pieces, you’ve got yourself a winner.


Neon at its best. Strong digital value.


One island out of two. Questionable physical value.

Overall Score: