Day 337: Inflamous

Posted: 2011/10/14 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #337, and today’s game is “Inflamous”.

I was kind of dreading trying Inflamous when I first saw it. Was it trying to deliberately sound like the PS3 game “Infamous”? Was it kitschy without the fun factor? Had it been from anyone other than Milkstone Studios it might have languished near the bottom of my “games to try” list, or perhaps been dismissed entirely, but Milkstone is a *very* solid studio having produced some excellent indie games including “Infinity Danger”, “Wool”, “MotorHEAT”, and (one of my all-time favourites) “Little Racers”, plus a few other games also on my to-do list. With Milkstone’s pedigree, and a concept too crazy not to try at least once, I took the plunge and found a game much better than it has any business being.

First, from the developer (Milkstone Studios S.L.):

“Burn the office down! Are you ready to set fire to your fellow colleagues?”

I work in the bicycle retail world, and I absolutely love my job. I’ve had other jobs I loved, like working in libraries, working at EB Games, and (believe it or not) doing income tax returns. There must be a lot of people out there who hate their jobs, though, because movies such as “Office Space”, the recent “Horrible Bosses”, and Inflamous just a few examples of pop culture obsession with the subject. In Inflamous you’ve decided to take things into your own hands and have decided to use your super-power of exploding (while remaining unharmed) to light people on fire to get back at them for… well, for whatever it is. The game doesn’t try hard to establish a rationale for the premise, and that’s OK.

You need fuel to explode, and for best points will carefully manage how much you start each level with so as not to waste time fueling up in the middle of a level. To do this, you try to light as many people on fire with each explosion as possible. Conveniently placed gas pumps in the middle of your office complex (???) let you refuel when necessary, but doing so slows you down.

The game actually has global leaderboards and a real effort has been made to give the game a bit of polish. The game continually throws new levels (often growing in size), new features (such as oil slicks you can use to aid your cause, and new complications (such as overhead sprinkler systems that attempt to thwart you). The cell-shaded graphics are appropriate for the surreal subject manner (though I still think cell-shaded graphics were at their best in Jet Set/Jet Grind Radio).

This game screams guilty pleasure all over it, but Milkstone somehow pulls it all together into something more cohesive than you might expect. Some people will love the randomness for randomness’ sake, others won’t take to it; ultimately, however, if you ignore the surreal/sadistic premise you’ll find that there’s a pretty enjoyable 80 Microsoft Point game at the core and it’s worth checking out.

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