The inFamous franchise has always felt like Sony’s middle child. While the idea of an open-world superhero game developed by the talented folks at Sucker Punch sounds like a dream, the series always had some drawbacks I was hoping to see remedied with their first PS4 outing. Second Son takes the familiar formula and doesn’t deviate from it too much. The archaic good/evil mechanic is still here, and the activities are quick and satisfying while the traversal system still feels inconsistent. None of this however, makes it any less fun to play, and PS4 owners would be wise to add it to their collection.
Second Son follows the story of Delsin Rowe, a young conduit who discovers his power by accident. The game is far removed from the events of inFamous 2 and its protagonist Cole MacGrath. In fact there is little mention of him at all. Instead this outing focuses on a new world where the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P.) is tasked with finding, and capturing, all conduits. The story runs a familiar gamut and there is little surprise throughout, but Troy Baker’s performance sells Delsin as a character. His interactions with his law-abiding brother Reggie are genuine, and I found myself enjoying their banter.
What doesn’t seem to fit is the forced moral mechanic. Once again, players can opt to be a power of good or evil depending on their choices. Sadly, most of the choices are pretty out of character for Delsin. He has little reason to ever choose the evil path, and that makes playing through that arc a bit awkward. The side characters are also highly underdeveloped outside of a couple. Fetch and Eugene definitely could have used more screen time, but others such as villain Brooke Augustine and Hank seem to inherit the focus.
Even with these hang-ups I was interested to see the story through its conclusion; I was just hoping for a bit more when it comes to the moral choices I was forced to make.
For better or worse, Second Son is an inFamous game through and through. The same quirky parkour mechanics are in place, although with the superb visuals, the jumpy animations of Delsin getting stuck while climbing a building stand out a bit more. The rain-drenched streets of Seattle are absolutely stunning. This is by far the best-looking console game to date.
Delsin gains a nice selection of powers throughout the game, with the final one not showing up until the end boss of the story. While they are all unique in some ways, they function fairly similar across the board. This makes them interchangeable as far as mechanics go, but it also makes them feel extremely similar. I found myself sticking to the initial smoke power for a large part of the game solely because I had invested so many of my early blast shards into upgrading it.
Each power also has an extensive skill tree that is unlocked with blast shards. Unlike previous games, these aren’t as plentiful this time around. There are also certain skills that can only be unlocked depending on what path I took. Sucker Punch did an excellent job of making my upgrades actually feel like they mattered, so collecting the blast shards felt worth it. I just wish each power had more diversity in its move set.
The world of inFamous is full of activities to do and blast shards to collect. What disappointed me though was that a lot of it felt like the traditional open-world tropes I have come to expect. Taking down fortifications, finding audio logs and hunting down undercover agents is fun the first few times, but after a few areas, I was burned out. The fast travel system is also disguised behind showdown missions that are only unlocked after clearing out a certain percentage of the story. Thankfully, the game’s main storyline keeps heavy travelling down to a minimum, making the system only useful when cleaning up side missions afterwards.
One of my biggest frustrations with the game comes from the combat. Delsin has a wide variety of moves to take down enemies, but when they get the upper hand, things become complicated. Delsin can get into a locked animation when hit, essentially allowing enemies to get multiple hits on him without being able to retaliate. There were several instances where I was trying to take out an area, and the screen was turning gray before I got a shot off. This adds a level of frustration not being able to do anything about it. Sucker Punch remedied some of the issue with fantastic checkpoints, even during boss fights, but I found myself more frustrated with grunts than some of the larger battles.
Seattle is a gorgeous city to explore, and Sucker Punch has definitely crafted one of the finest looking games I have ever seen. There is so much detail in every area, and the weather effects are stunning. Seeing neon signs reflect off of newly formed puddles is the kind of detail I was hoping for with these new consoles, and it’s safe to say that Second Son nails it. This is the kind of game people will be flooding Twitter with shared screenshots. Though we should probably stop tagging them with “Don’t look down!”
The voice acting is also top-notch. Capturing Troy Baker’s facial emotions along with his voice was a fantastic idea, and seeing the characters in cut scenes really sells it. I just wish the story was a little less linear and some of the more interesting characters earned a bit more screen time.
inFamous: Second Son is a gorgeous game that will definitely satiate PS4 owners starving for a new title for their collection. I still feel like it falls short of being that system-seller everyone has been waiting for, but those already invested definitely need to pick it up. Linear story and forced morality don’t tear down the otherwise fantastic experience. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of mowing down hundreds of enemies with glorious super powers?
Review copy of game provided by publisher.