Indie puzzle games are great. They always seem to find a way to enhance my imagination and take me to places I’ve never been before while keeping me engaged on simple puzzle solving tasks. Influx is no exception to this mold and delivered for me a truly memorable experience.
If you haven’t yet checked out my first impression video over on our Youtube channel, then definitely do so. The game itself is a pretty straightforward concept. You are a ball and you roll around the world taking on puzzle after puzzle. But the game goes much deeper then that. When Influx starts, it shows you a glimpse of a mysterious object crash landing on the world. You come to find out the object is this mysterious ball whom you now control and you are given little other explanation than that. There is no “You must go on this grand adventure” prompt, just a simple “Here’s your ball, go on rollin’.” Over the course of the first few “levels”, the game goes on to explain the basic controls to you and then you are off on your merry way solving harder puzzles.
I put an emphasis on “levels” because the game doesn’t inherently contain levels. Instead, you are given this massive overworld to roll across. As you traverse the terrain, you come across various glass houses that you gain entry to by collecting glowing orbs throughout the area. The game doesn’t really give you an idea of how many orbs you need to collect, but I discovered that it was generally around three or so before I could get into the houses. Once inside, you are presented with a puzzle room that generally consists of you locating another colored ball and herding it into a similarly colored box with your attract and repel abilities. The idea here is simple enough, but escorting a ball with another ball while both balls have continual rolling physics is hard. While the complexity to the puzzles is increased by having multiple ball objectives that needed to be completed, I couldn’t help but think that the gameplay might have been improved by just having to navigate a singular ball through a maze rather than having to escort others.
Despite the mild frustration from herding balls, the gameplay is pretty fluid. It can be played with either a keyboard and mouse combo or a controller and both of the control schemes feel very responsive. The puzzle difficulty progresses at a gradual rate that makes it feel as if you are getting deeper into the game without making it mind numbingly difficult and impossible to complete. There were some areas in the game however that I managed to maneuver to that made it impossible to exit without reverting to the last checkpoint. There could have been more refining on some of the puzzles to counteract this, but overall including a last checkpoint option solved whatever issue I was having with a given puzzle.
The music and sound design of this game lends itself to the gameplay and story quite well. The music feels very ominous but in a positive way, not a negative. It creates mystery and intrigue and gives the player a feeling of wanting to explore more. It isn’t in your face as some soundtracks are, but is meant to compliment the rest of the gameplay. The sound design is crafted in such a way that objects make the sounds you are expecting them to make, which feels very visceral and satisfying. There will be unexpected sounds to accompany unexpected moments which creates shock and intrigue.
The game is beautiful to look at. It runs on the Unreal Engine and everything feels very crisp. The scenery is gorgeous even when zipping by as a ball. The atmospheric presence the game gives off is great and it is never dull with the changes in scenery. Just went things became borderline repetitive, the game threw me for a loop by offering something exploding or something unexpected happening. Without giving away any spoilers, the game definitely left me with a few “What just happened?” moments.
Influx is fun, and the lasting appeal comes from trying to solve all of the puzzles. While there is no replayability in a sense, you will want to come back and play this game time and time again because it is really very fun and a unique experience. It is one of those games that I’ll be picking up to play again, just to see things that I missed the first time I played through it. Overall, the game is very, very enjoyable and anyone with a puzzle sense should definitely be checking it out. Make sure you check out the first 30 minutes of gameplay over on our Youtube channel as it is a rollin’ good time.
Influx is out now for Windows through GoG, Amazon, Humble, and Steam.
(Reviewed on PC. Thank you to Impromptu Games for the review code.)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 7.5/10
Gameplay/Design – 8/10
Visuals – 8/10
Sound – 9/10
Lasting Appeal – 7/10
Overall – 8/10
(Not an average)
Developer: Impromptu Games