Infinifactory is a puzzle game from Zachtronics Industries. If you are a Playstation centric game then the name of Zachary Barth might not be familiar to you but if you a PC gamer or a fan of block building games then the name might be ringing a bell or two as many see him as the forerunner of the procedurally generated block building genre (think games like Minecraft). However, unlike Minecraft, I actually found this game to be enjoyable.
Infinifactory is a sandbox puzzle game by Zachtronics, the creators of SpaceChem and Infiniminer. Build factories that assemble products for your alien overlords, and try not to die in the process.
Infinifactory – Trailer
In Infinifactory, the game begins with you driving along a stretch of road when suddenly you are abducted by aliens and forced to work in a factory. Your role is to figure out a way to construct the items that are on demand by your captors. At first, you find yourself creating a number of seemingly unrelated items but, as the game progresses, you start to see the bigger picture as the world slowly unravels. With each level you unlock, you “meet” previous people that have been abducted by the aliens and forced to work in this factory.
Infinifactory is a puzzle game, which comes in the guise of getting components A, B and C to location X in a particular order or formation. When written down in its simplest form, the game does not sound even remotely enjoyable – especially when you consider that it allows you to take all the time you need to solve its puzzles. It makes no attempts to rush you or force you into any particular train of thought. It instead gives you your components, gives you the item(s) it wants you to make and then tells you to go at it. For me, that was one of the best part about Infinifactory.
At no point do you look at a puzzle and feel there is only one solution: your mind tells you there are many but, for the life of you, you are unable to see any of them until the penny suddenly drops and your “eureka!” moment comes to your head in a moment of pride. You never feel the game is cheating you out of an answer to a solution. One of the best examples of this is the fact that at the start of the game you are presented with the fact that your character’s spacesuit has a jetpack. Holding X (aka zoom out) allows you to ascend while square makes you descend (zoom in). This may not seem like much, but you will be amazed at how seeing your factory from a different perspective will often bring a moment of inspiration when trying to fine tune a solution. The 3D environment – though not in the running for any awards – does an excellent job in presenting to you exactly what you need to know. Everything is beautifully detailed and nicely colored.
It should also be noted that the game does an excellent job of easing you into its main mechanics. Each new factory item/game mechanic is introduced piecemeal and at no point do you feel overwhelmed by everything you can do in the game… even when the puzzles start combining the new mechanics with the old ones.
As mentioned before, the game does not judge you on the amount of time you took to solve a puzzle. Instead, it judges you on how many factory pieces, how much factory floor space and how many cycles it took you to solve the puzzle. At the end of a puzzle, you are given your score in comparison to the average of other players of that level. I consider this to be a brilliant design choice as it allows you more room for your thinking your way out of a problem – rather than rushing through a puzzle, you are instead focusing your time on trying to streamline and perfect your creation.
Though this game is superb, it’s not perfect. An excellent game is sometimes let down by its design choices, particularly with the controls. It helps to understand the fact that this was originally a PC game, and having to translate a keyboard control scheme to a controller is always difficult. While the game does an admirable job, it is once in a while let down by one or two choices.
For example, imagine for a moment you are constructing an assembly line: all the pieces are in place but, for whatever reason, one section is letting the team down. Eventually, you realise that failing section just needs to be moved one step to the right for it to be perfect. Though it is possible to do this, the method to this feels incredibly awkward and can lead to moments of frustration. Luckily you can press the left button to undo mistakes or right to redo an action. I can’t help but feel that some of these problems could have been addressed by using the DualShock 4 touchpad.
Another problem, though less pressing than the previous one, is the inability to alter characteristics of any of the factory lines. An example of what I mean by this is how in the game there is a block piece known as “The Pusher” and based on its name you can guess what it does. For it to work, you need to connect it to a sensor and when a component activates the sensor, it, in turn, activates The Pusher. While this works out perfectly, you can sometimes find that The Pusher either reacts too slowly or too quickly. Being able to fine-tune this would make life a whole lot easier, but your only solution seems to be trying to move the pieces around until you can get the right response. Yes, it is possible to speed or slow down the pace the game generates its components, but you can’t help but feel that more could be done.
Granted it is possible to argue that this is just the game’s way of forcing you to think outside the box to find a better solution rather than taking up more floor space, but that does not stop it from being mildly irritating because, arguably, being able to alter aspects of individual parts of your assembly line could introduce a deeper level of difficulty and intricacy into the puzzles.
All in all, this is an excellent game for anyone who is a fan of puzzle games. It is both challenging and captivating enough to keep you pressing away at it. Yes, there are one or two minor points here and there but it is nothing to detract from how brilliantly put together this gem of a game is.
PSN Game Size: 1.6GB