inFAMOUS: First Light

Year: 2014
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Review Date: 11/2/17
Rating: ****

I don't understand the weird capitalization of the title, but I'll let that slide. "First Light" is a fantastic action game featuring a young woman named Abigail "Fetch" Walker. She's a superpowered being known as a "conduit", who can run really fast, scale buildings, and fire destructive energy beams from her body. When her powers first manifested, she and her brother ran away to Seattle to avoid being institutionalized by the government. When her brother gets into trouble with the Russian Mafia, Fetch unleashes her powers to rescue him and get revenge.

First of all, the presentation is astonishing, and the game creates a dreamlike version of Seattle that's instantly recognizable, but laid out in an unfamiliar way. While it perfectly captures the vibe and atmosphere of the city, it's also free from the appalling traffic, pollution, and population density that chokes it, which makes it more pleasant to explore than the real thing. The people that you encounter on the streets are about what you'd expect - wearing hoodies, carrying umbrellas, drinking coffee, and mindlessly staring into their smart phones. There are dozens of recognizable landmarks, along with amusing riffs on known brands and places. I was always thrilled to see something authentic, like the Lincoln's Toe Truck, the dinosaurs at the Pacific Science Center, the gum wall in Post Alley, the Super Elephant Car Wash, and of course, the iconic Space Needle. The environment is vast and seamless, with no noticeable loading times, and is a joy to wander around in. Unless you're being chased by bad guys.

Abigail is a wonderful character and she's easy to relate to. Her character model actually looks and moves like a teenage girl, which is a nice touch that helps define her character and personality. The writing is good and Laura Bailey gives an excellent performance, although the Brooklyn accent is distracting and out of place, especially given the Pacific Northwest locale. Unfortunately, her character seems doomed from the start. She's a good kid who wants to live a normal life, but her powers make her a dangerous and sought after commodity. She eventually gives in to her rage, which leaves her with no options for redemption or forgiveness.

The gameplay reminded me a lot of "Mirror's Edge: Catalyst" in that it's broken into both missions and open world exploration. The most fun I had in the game was just casually running around town, taking in the sights and chasing down neon lumens (similar to the grid leaks and timed deliveries in "Mirror's Edge: Catalyst"). You can also rescue hostages and stop drive-by shootings to gain skill points, which can be used to increase your abilities. The difficulty is reasonable and ramps up at the same speed as your abilities, so it never seems overly hard. The only time the game becomes a drag is during several training exercises in Curdun Cay, where you have to eliminate multiple waves of enemies with your newfound powers.

Overall, "First Light" is an amazing experience and one of the best looking games I've ever played. I haven't played the other "inFAMOUS" games because the protagonists didn't appeal to me, but Abigail is a wonderful character to explore Seattle with. The US version is only available as a download title, but you can get the region-free European version on disc, which is what I did.