Blood, Bats, and Bolts – inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood
Most AAA developers shy away from making holiday themed games and for good reason: short timeframe to sell a product with a large investment. Certain developers have escaped this situation with holiday themed add-on content, such as Gearbox’s Zombie Island of Dr. Ned for their hit Borderlands and Rockstar’s Undead Nightmare for Red Dead Redemption. Both of these content packs were received quite well by fans and critics alike. The other side of the coin, is to release a miniature game such as Double Fine’s Costume Quest which was priced at $14.99 when it launched last year. Thankfully, Sucker Punch has created a “best of both worlds” situation for gamers this Halloween with their downloadable PS3 exclusive inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood. For $9.99, gamers are thrust into the shoes of the electrokinetic, Cole McGrath, in a seasonal celebration of blood, bats, and bolts.
This standalone title, not requiring either of the previous games in order to run, starts off in a bar with Zeke hitting on some girl and telling her all about Cole’s vampire phase. The scene then shifts to Cole as he looked in inFAMOUS 2, going through a collapsed tunnel in New Marais, trying to assist the wounded. Inevitably, he is bitten and the greatest power in the history of the franchise bestowed upon him.
Cole, by transforming his body into a cloud of bats, can now fly using “Shadow Swarm.” Forget the awesome ability of grinding along a wire, jumping, and then gliding down using your electric thrusters to make the most of your travel time. Instead, snack on some drunk raver and take to the skies like never before! Or, if you’re feeling kind to the intoxicated, you can always pierce your new brethren through the heart and absorb their blood to fuel your newfound powers. Whichever way you want to keep your blood meter filled is up to you, but you won’t be able to fly without it. Personally, I liked draining the street performers to slake my thirst, with their stupid demon get-ups and torches, they were just asking for it.
A large part of the inFAMOUS experience is upgrading your impressive array of electric abilities. Being a bite-sized version of its two older siblings, Festival of Blood decides to tie all your upgrades into unlocks. Cole doesn’t gain experience in this game but as he completes certain tasks, an on-screen counter appears letting you know that if you stab more of these bloodthirsty beasts, your abilities will grow more powerful. Cole starts out with his basic electric abilities: bolts, rockets, grenades, shockwave, and repulsor. Those who have played the other inFAMOUS games will recognize most of the game’s abilities except for one: Shadow Stake. Now, the name implies that it has to do with your blood-fueled vampiric ability and in fact, it is an upgrade for it. Instead of just being able to cruise around in the night sky, you can now fly directly into vampires and stab them for a portion of your blood meter, bursting them into flames on impact. This becomes especially useful once you start facing off against the more mobile enemy types.
The variation of the enemies is apparent from the regular game. First, there are the glaive-wielding shirtless vamps that like to whirl their blades of undeath at you and vanish. Second, you have a crossbow shooting, hostage taking vamp that will sometimes decide to drain his meat shield to fuel his vanishing ability. There are three more enemy types, not including the main boss; however, since this is a short game, I’ll not divulge everything here.
The collectables have returned in the form of canopic blood jars and vampire teachings. These jars will increase the amount of blood you can hold, meaning if you want to keep flying around as a cloud of bats, you’ll want to hunt these suckers down. Fortunately, if you find enough of the vampire teachings, your vampire sense activates automatically while flying. Once this happened, I was zipping through the sky from canopic jar to canopic jar. You can also use your vampire sense to spot hidden enemies before they kick off the slaughter.
The atmosphere is great in this title. The whole game takes place on “Pyre Night” – a local holiday celebrating the burning of a vampire called “Bloody Mary.” The entire city is wasted and too busy partying to notice that you and your vampire buddies are having your own party. Add in the costumed citizens, street-side bonfires, and horror movie parodies of popular games and New Marais feels like one big Halloween block party. Of course, if you throw a stake into an annoying drummer, people tend to run away screaming. Fortunately, there are more bloodsacks waiting just around the corner.
Overall, I’d say that if you’re looking for a game that captures the spirit of Halloween, you can’t go wrong with dropping ten bucks on inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood. It’s provided me with a solid five hours of entertainment, and that doesn’t include any of the user generated content (aside from Sucker Punch’s). My only regret is that my inFAMOUS 2 Cole will never experience the sensation of turning into a cloud of bats and hauling through the sky.