Factasy - a new game genre or educational software in disguise?
Games are supposed to be about entertainment. When they slip into the field of the grimly-phrased "edutainment" they're met with horror. Infinity One is billed as a new genre of game - the author describes it as "factasy", but it's almost education software. In fact, if you take it as such it's much more palatable.
The whole thing has an amateur air about it, not surprising really since it's been written entirely in STOS Basic by someone who doesn't claim to be either a graphical or sonic expert. This is a bit of a shame really considering all the effort that has gone into its creation.
After the intro sequence to the accompaniment of the Latvian National Anthem (yes, really) and the complicated copy protection system you have to work out what you're supposed to do - there's no READ_ME file or any documentation that's any use to show you what to do. This is a deliberate measure to avoid wasting trees - a very green and honourable sacrifice, of course, but it does mean that you end up struggling about not knowing what you're supposed to be doing. If it was a simple platform game this would be fine, you'd just shoot lots of nasties, collect lots of things and progress. But Infinity One isn't simple by any stretch of the imagination. And it's very slow though you do have the option to install the game to hard drive, which cuts down on the disk accessing.
You get introduced to the characters in tortuous detail; click on different parts of the picture and clues are revealed. There are loads of random clicks to be made which is very irritating - sometimes you get a result but most of the time you don't. Pick up the clues as you go along and then use them later on. One good little touch is that, if you find the initials AK, you earn some Latvian money.
One of the biggest problems with trying to get into Infinity One is that much of the subject matter it relates to isn't relevant to life in contemporary Western Europe. Historians might find it fascinating to learn about ancient Crete in this way, but it certainly isn't a topic that's going to appeal to a mass market.
It isn't all bad news, though. When you do come across the straightforward puzzles they can be quite entertaining in a sort of I-can-do-The-Times-crossword way and just ending up somewhere completely different can be quite interesting - on a later level you get to travel through time and end up in different places with different snippets of information.
The graphics consist of a series of static screens, often including digitised pictures in colour, though trying to show human faces, clothing and background in 16 shades isn't the easiest thing so they do tend to look rather peculiar. Occasionally there are small animations which liven things up slightly - such as a seagull flying to pick up some food from a beach scene - accompanied by some really abysmal sound effects. You need to have quite a commitment to learning about history - and oodles of patience before you learn to love this.
- There's lots of it!
- Brave new idea...
- ...that's not communicated very well.
- Too much randomness in the whole setup.