Games rarely provide players with unlimited freedom to solve puzzles however they wish. In comes Infinifactory which allows you to let your imagination run wild and build complex factories, but enough talk; let's get to work!
Many gamers may unfortunately blow off Infinifactory as a Minecraft clone. Don't be deceived. You play it by placing blocks that perform various functions in order to move, alter, and combine materials into the desired output. It's similar to the recently released Human Resource Machine yet with much more expansive gameplay. Solving the puzzles can be quite a challenge on its own but perfectionists will probably spend hours upon hours making each solution more efficient. You're judged in three areas; Cycles (how long the solution takes to fully complete), Footprint (how much ground the blocks cover), and Blocks (how many blocks you used). Of course, your solution is considered more efficient when these numbers are lower. Considering there are seemingly endless ways to solve each puzzle, you could spend all day making minor tweaks to just one of them.
Infinifactory comes wrapped in a surprisingly immersive world complete with an overwhelming dark sense of humour. It starts with you driving your vehicle down a road then all of a sudden you're in an alien ship. You soon realise that aliens have abducted humans to build factories for them. After the brief tutorial, you actually meet your new alien overlords for the first time. They speak in a ridiculously garbled language with no subtitles but just watching them blab on and on is hilarious. You then fall through the floor and end up in your deluxe accommodations complete with bed, sink, and a handful of dog treats. Upon completing each set of puzzles, you're awarded a new prize such as an exercise VHS tape or a trucker hat. If you don't find that funny then you're a goof.
New types of components slowly get introduced throughout the course of the campaign. You start with only basic conveyor belts and plain blocks but after a while you get to experiment with pieces that rotate, destroy, and weld together materials. One of the most interesting pieces is one that pushes materials but only when an attached motion sensor is activated. Some puzzle areas even include interactive features that require additional brain power to master such as saws that cut materials into different shapes. Solutions end up getting complicated rather quickly to the point where you may be overwhelmed early on. However, nothing is ever insurmountable and as you chip away one little bit at a time, you'll feel nothing but pure joy once the solution finally clicks.
The biggest issue with Infinifactory (as you can already tell) is that it only appeals to a niche crowd. Therefore, if you're one of the people who assumed that it's a Minecraft clone and downloaded it because of that then you're probably disappointed since this is a far less accessible experience. Only hardcore puzzle enthusiasts with a passion for perfection will get any enjoyment out of this. That being said, the amount of fun that they'll have is unmatched in the genre. The only problem that I had with the actual gameplay is the fact that playing with a controller can be finicky at times. Don't get me wrong, the controls are translated very intuitively from the mouse and keyboard PC version. It's moments like when you close the component select screen then place an object only to realise that you selected the wrong thing a split second before you closed the menu that become annoying after a while. Also, there were times when I accidentally rotated an object in the distance and didn't notice it until much later. In the end, it goes without saying that using a controller is inherently far more sensitive than playing on the PC but the developer definitely handled it as well as he could.
Infinifactory is one of the best puzzle games that I've played in recent years. Anyone who's even slightly intrigued by its unique premise should definitely pick it up as it'll surely impress. If you do, say hi to the alien overlords for me. Maybe they'll give you something cool.
- + Complex puzzles with multiple solutions that are satisfying to tweak to perfection
- + Persisting dark sense of humour
- + Variety of intricacies to tinker with
- - Only incredibly patient hardcore practical puzzle perfectionists need apply
- - Controller can sometimes be finicky