Infinity Runner (Wii U) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 11.05.2016

Review for Infinity Runner on Wii U

Welsh developer and publisher Wales Interactive specialises in smaller games for digital distribution outlets across consoles, PC and mobile devices. They have been around for only a couple of years, pretty much being born with the current generation of consoles in 2012. In this short period of time, they have already pushed out some well-received and award winning titles like Soul Axiom and Master Reboot, as well as other more divisive titles such as Gravity Badgers. What is for sure is that they have proven themselves capable of being part of the top of the crop when it comes to indie development, and this includes development for the Wii U. Therefore, Infinity Runner, released last month also on the Wii U eShop (and previously on PC and PS4, is expected to be a quality title as well, falling yet again in the horror genre which the studio seems to be good at producing games for.

What would you do if you woke up on a seemingly derelict spaceship, having no memory of who you are or how you got there, completely naked inside a capsule, and you started hearing a voice telling you to start running for your life? Infinity Runner sums up the whole premise of its action right in the title. Incarnate an unknown man in first-person view aboard a spaceship called the Infinity, and sprint down corridor after corridor, dodging obstacles and inputting the combinations of buttons in quick time events to battle guards trying to stop you from escaping. It's the basic recipe for an automatic endless runner, the likes of which you see a lot of on mobile platforms these days.

The main game is divided in 14 stages, lasting a couple minutes each, wherein the unnamed hero runs automatically forward and the action is seen from a first-person perspective. It is the player's duty to see to it that the hero doesn't slam into walls or obstacles such a deadly lasers or pits by strafing left or right, turning, jumping over or sliding under them. The structure of every level is entirely linear except for the occasional inconsequential split in the road, but both paths always lead to the same end of stage and therefore only marginally affect gameplay by offering different assortments of obstacles to overcome. As mentioned above, occasionally, the hero will run into alien-looking guards. Coming across those triggers a quick time event wherein the player has to press a series of buttons within a short allotted amount of time to take them down. Failing to do so results in instant death and being sent back to a check point, as will failing to dodge most obstacles. The hero has a health bar, but only environmental hazards such as toxic waste lying on the floor or jets of flames will deplete it; all other types of damage always result in instant death.

Screenshot for Infinity Runner on Wii U

The real catch and focal point of the story, however, which is revealed very early on, is that the hero is actually a werewolf, whose superior powers a race of aliens tried to exploit as weapons to wage their war. However, they proved difficult to control due to their transformation only happening on a full moon, and their temperamental nature also meant that they could kill foes as well as allies. Therefore, they had to be recaptured, but a scientific discovery of a certain serum allows the hero to transform into a werewolf instantaneously. Syringes of said serum are sometimes found in the stages and trigger the hero's transformation to a werewolf, bringing him down to all fours and allowing him to get across certain gaps by walking along walls, as well as take down enemies effortlessly without the need for any QTE.

It's also worth noting that there are several levels of difficulty available, which increase the amount of enemies and the frequency at which they appear, and also remove certain hints of what the action to be performed is, such as turning left or right being indicated by arrows, though in at least one location, the hint actually points in the wrong direction, sending the player into a wall...and yet another instant death! As the protagonist runs down those long corridors, a mysterious woman with half of her head shaven keeps talking to him, giving quick titbits of advice and moving the light plot forward, helping to build a certain tension and interest as it tries to give meaning to the player's constant running. And it works well indeed. The overall atmosphere is tense and mysterious as both the graphics and the story contribute to making the experience a gripping one right from the start.

Screenshot for Infinity Runner on Wii U

Indeed, the first handful of levels, though worryingly similar in essence, introduce gradually each type of action that the hero can perform, and the level of challenge gradually increases, keeping things mildly interesting. As the levels go on, however, the exact same corridors and rooms keep appearing (just re-skinned differently depending on which area of the ship they are found in), and things get dull pretty quickly. Worse even, as progress is made through the game, some of its technical flaws become even more apparent through repetition. The frame rate is inconsistent, the hero tends to pass through some solid scenery, some basic actions that should be easy to pull off will work once but not the next attempt, even when performed exactly the same way...past the initial feeling of having a really original title on our hands and being enticed to progress, the game makes its shortcomings more glaringly apparent, and the initial goodwill subsides somewhat, leaving only mild disappointment.

The interface itself on the main menu seems to not respond like it should and is arguably hard to read, with the movement of the highlighted menu element feeling extremely delayed, said highlighted elements being a light yellow instead of white (which is not the best choice for visibility), and no sound cue indicating that movement was made. These multiple issues do affect the perception that one gets of the title as a whole, despite the initial idea and the first few moments being full of promise. Indeed, the concept is a good one, and despite those flaws, the experience is still an enjoyable one if sampled in short play sessions spread over a long period of time to avoid the repetitiveness of the scenery, the gameplay, and even of the obnoxious and rather annoying soundtrack.

Screenshot for Infinity Runner on Wii U

There is also one big problem with the main story mode: it would appear that it is impossible to beat it in the current state of things! Despite repeated attempts to load the final of the 14 short stages that the story mode contains, it wouldn't load at all and would freeze the console upon loading. Beyond the main story mode described so far, an arcade mode exists too, which challenges the player to take on a series of randomly generated obstacles and try to last as long as possible since the stage has no end. Finally, a sort of achievement system offers some objective-based missions for players to take on in the game itself, which is a nice addition but is just an artificial reason to push players back into the same kind of repetitive action, so it does not do much to make things better overall.

It's worth nothing, however, that Infinity Runner sports one of the biggest flaws yet seen in any Wii U port so far. One so big that we cannot fathom how such a long time after release it has not been patched yet: the off-TV mode doesn't work properly. It can be engaged, but when it is engaged, the sound of the game continues to come out of the TV speakers, instead of those on the Gamepad, which is a huge oversight that should not have escaped the staff of play testers. This is an issue continuously reported on Miiverse by its users too, which means that surely, Wales Interactive must be aware of it. However, they have yet to do anything about it. Granted, fixing this will not be enough to be the saving grace of this title, as the repetitive gameplay and environments coupled to the rest of the technical issues are really what limits the enjoyment, but such a glaring problem stands out too much to be ignored.

Screenshot for Infinity Runner on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Infinity Runner sadly joins the ranks of the heaps of titles out there which had an immense potential with a great concept and great atmosphere. It starts off well but is marred by technical problems. In addition to this, the repetitiveness of the gameplay and environmental elements take away from the overall feeling of excitement over time, which the title would have provided otherwise. Stuttering frame rate, a story mode that can't be completed as of the writing of this review, a lack of responsiveness in the interface and an obnoxious, repetitive soundtrack just about sum up the list of problems which will not affect enjoyment during the first few stages, but which, over time, will be hard to overcome. An update to rectify these major problems would no doubt help iron out some of these issues, though without a big overhaul, some its faults could not entirely be taken away.

Developer

Wales Interactive

Publisher

Wales Interactive

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Flynnie

There are 1 members online at the moment.