Have you ever wandered the streets of Half-Life 2’s City 17 or Dishonored’s Dunwall, wondering what life was like behind the scenes? Curious about what the sewers of Overwatch‘s Numbani look like, or where Destiny 2‘s The Tower gets its electricity from? Infra is the answer to all your architectural exploration needs. Set in a vaguely central European city, you play as a structural analyst investigating decay in the city’s infrastructure who quickly finds himself in over his head. Massive in scope and scale, Infra is a rewarding puzzle/adventure game and a love letter to overlooked game environments everywhere.
Taking place in the industry of Stalburg, you’re sent on a routine inspection of a hydroelectric dam and water pumping station. Armed with nothing more than a camera and heavy-duty flashlight, you’re not expecting to find much, if anything, wrong. Very quickly, however, it’s obvious that something has gone wrong. From repairing water meters to fixing deadly electrical shorts or restarting pumps, all of the damage inflicted on the infrastructure is clearly unnatural. Thus, it is your job to fix it, to the best of your ability. There’s no legion of undead to shoot or CEO to assassinate, just point-and-click puzzle solving as you navigate through Stalburg’s rotting infrastructure.
Infra shines when solving even the simplest of puzzles. The challenges you encounter aren’t necessarily complex, but there’s something magical about dusting off electrical diagrams left by long-dead managers and solving very modern problems. Fiddling with switches and buttons feels mechanical yet tactile, and you’ll rarely be at a loss for what to do next. Exploration is at the heart of Infra, and you’re never pressured to move quickly through environments. On the contrary, there are plenty of hidden puzzles and many more collectibles to be found, simply by just taking your time and scouring the long-abandoned facilities. There’s no immediate reward for repairing hidden generators or stopping a train from hitting fallen trees, other than the satisfaction from the puzzles themselves. Still, the puzzles aren’t mindless affairs, but anyone who’s completed The Room should have no trouble succeeding in Infra.
While repairing and taking pictures of damage, you’ll also uncover hundreds of notes and audio logs hinting towards a larger tale of corruption, one that only started to get uncovered in the early hours. Despite the drip-feed of information early on, it’s clear that the decades-spanning conspiracy involves some of the biggest names involved in Stalburg’s history, and might still be going on today. Even in the limited preview, the Whomever the culprits, there’s plenty to discover in Infra‘s many chapters.
Making the most of its immensely slow pace, Infra effectively conveys the sense of a man who’s stumbled upon something far bigger than he’s realized. Music is sparse, with much of the ambient noise coming from sparking wires, running water, or creaking pipes. Otherwise, you’re alone in the mechanical underbelly of your city. The facilities are both sprawling and suffocating as you stumble across more and more damage. Infra isn’t a game that is in serious need of music, rather, it’s better because it uses silence effectively.
Infra also makes full use of the Source engine to create gorgeous displays of heavy industry and their decay. It’s not a stretch to say Infra is one of the best-looking Source engine games, despite coming from an indie team. Environments pop with depth and detail, and even the most hidden crawl spaces are packed with notes, abandoned electrical work and mazelike pipes. Unfortunately, the voice acting can’t keep up with the visuals, and the poor performance coming from your character, who easily has the most lines, is hard to ignore.
Still, a few minor faults are hardly enough to hold Infra back. By rewarding exploration and curiosity with intricate puzzles and a slowly unraveling conspiracy, Infra appeals to basic desires and is a satisfying experience. Some might be put off by the slower pace and emphasis on environmental interaction, and for that, there’s plenty of substitutes. For everyone else, there’s a lot to love in Infra.
TechRaptor previewed Infra on PC via Steam with a copy purchased by the previewer.