Release Date(s): Jan. 15, 2015 (Early Access)
Genre(s): Simulation, Puzzle
Platform(s): Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: $24.99 / £18.99 / €22,99
Rating: T (ESRB)
Zachtronics isn’t afraid to go above and beyond with their extraordinary and innovative titles. Known for creating Infiniminer, the game that inspired Minecraft, and great and challenging indie titles like Ironclad Tatics and SpaceChem, the company has now released another title similar to their work in Infiniminer: a game where you build infinite factory solutions using square parts–none other than Infinifactory. What limits await the player in this immense puzzle building game?
The Future Factory Builder In a similar vein to other indie titles, you start off trapped in what appears to be a futuristic facility, where guided tasks carry the player through a series of test chambers. This broad tutorial on the player’s abilities draws to a close once you realize that there are plenty of people lying about in the chambers. Soon you find yourself confronting the cause of these deaths: an alien race that has taken over the human race. This is where the real story takes off, as you are sent to complete tasks building and transporting creations for the aliens in different planetary locations. You’ll find other dead humans who have left behind recorded messages that fill you in on the details of what the aliens are doing and how other humans are attempting to survive. It soon becomes apparent that you are learning how to engineer these structures so that the aliens can continue to prosper. The progress of the storyline depends on your succeeding and passing each chapter of factory building inspections, which will take a while for most people, but the payoff in the adventure of survival is well worth it for the interesting twists and turns the gameplay takes.
Infinite Block Possibilities So what is the objective of Infinifactory? Simple: move and rearrange blocks put out by disposals into receptacles using conveyors and other editing blocks. Beginning levels are great at teaching basic techniques for building optimal factories, allowing the player to figure out the features of new blocks on their own. The good thing is that there's a lot of freedom in where blocks have to travel before arriving at their destination. What’s challenging is that this freedom can lead to some complicated approaches and factories that might result in multiple failed attempts. Later on in the game, these skills are tested to their greatest extent, which makes solving puzzles all the more rewarding when accomplished. But these aspects don’t take away from the fact that each task takes a long time to complete, even when parts of it are similar to other tasks. This does give Infinifactory tremendous replay value, though, since you can reconfigure the blocks in different formations. Some of the puzzles might look straightforward but turn out to be much more complex. Although sometimes the usage limits of each block make solving puzzles tedious compared to earlier simpler levels, successfully building a factory gives a great sense of victory as you overcome each challenge.
A World More Than Blocks The puzzles in Infinifactory contain some surprisingly varied worlds. It is clear when you go through the alien home base that the textures of each surface are well integrated into the futuristic environment, especially the ones the ones you can look at up close, which really grab your attention with their level of detail. The lighting effects show the stark contrast between outer space versus enclosed buildings. Even the user interface is very polished, clearly indicating where blocks travel to and where the player places and erases blocks. While it's not possible to fly out far from the puzzle’s spawn point, the skybox still looks like a blur compared to the rest of the scenery, although it is beautifully integrated into the setting. Some of the distant structures filling the empty space can vary from other rock planets to space ships. There is definitely a huge contrast between indoor puzzles with neat glossy windows and open outdoor puzzles with not much other than dead builders to pay attention to. For players, it's hit or miss whether the environment will will contribute much to the feel and setting of the story.
Futuristic Tunes and SoundsAs far as the background soundtrack is concerned, it has a good groove to it; most of the time it’s easily forgettable, as you've really got to concentrate to solve each puzzle. The best part are the great recorded messages and interactions with the aliens. Most of these diary entries are full of intense and well done voice acting caught up in dramatic external or internal stimuli that are communicated very empathetically. The blocks do make relatable, realistic high-tech sounds that perfectly fuse with the gameplay to help players know that everything's functioning properly in your factory. Even when considering all this sound content, there really isn’t much complexity in the style or the emotions invoked by the music; it’s not even close to the level of intensity the gameplay makes the player undergo, making it all feel a little lackluster.
Perplexing Puzzle Solving Occasional clues will guide you from time to time, but not that many. The one thing that drives you to make perfect factories is the push to beat other people’s structure scores and make factories that run faster or cover less space. It’s a good thing that the controls are comfortable as you hover about looking to make each block placement, so you never feel inhibited from retrying solutions for better scores. Getting achievements or getting through the story or messing around in sandbox maps are only as good as what you make of them; this game gives you the freedom to explore and experiment however you feel is best, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending how you take it.