Going into “Ad Infinitum,” I wasn’t sure what exactly I would be getting. I was dreading the usual boring walking simulator survival horror game that are a dime a dozen these days, but luckily this had a bit more meat on its bones, even if its not a clear home run. Crafted by the up-and-coming game developers at Hekate, I was really intrigued with a game that tackled the nuances of family dynamics, the eerie backdrop of World War I, and the mystique of a mansion frozen in time from the turn of the century. This sometimes-gripping narrative invited me to step into the shoes of a deeply scarred German soldier, haunted by the nightmarish echoes of wartime horrors. Within the walls of this ancestral home, this German soldier’s family members held onto their own harrowing secrets, and I was patiently awaiting my exploration to unveil their tales. Yet, the path was treacherous, with unexpected sounds and cherished mementos capable of triggering debilitating PTSD episodes, thrusting me into a nightmarish realm inspired by the tumultuous era of the “great war.” Here, I confronted very creepy, otherworldly (and cool designed) creatures, navigated deadly traps, and unraveled intricate puzzles, all in my quest to exorcise the haunting specters of war from my psyche.
The concept of delving into the psyche of a German soldier dealing with the aftermath of war was a topic that for some reason really spoke to me. It promised a deep dive into the complex landscape of human trauma, a subject that has always fascinated me. While the game did deliver moments of emotional satisfaction, it often left me mired in confusion due to its convoluted storytelling. My adventure began in an imagined rendition of the trenches, where I braced myself for combat against enemy soldiers, only to be startled by the appearance of eerie, agile monsters, their presence sending chills down my spine. These sequences in the game are where it shines brightest.
From a visual perspective, “Ad Infinitum” has ample room for improvement. The graphics often carried an unpolished quality, with many scenes appearing muddy and ill-defined. I also encountered a higher number of glitches than I’m accustomed to in a lot of the modern games I’ve reviewed lately, so that’s a bummer. Eventually in the game, I found myself in a mansion, a location that occasionally showcased moments of visual finesse but suffered from an agonizingly slow pace, completely disrupting the overall flow of the game. Fortunately, as the story progressed, “Ad Infinitum” picked up the pace and regained some momentum whenever you’re put back in a nightmare. These horrific war sequences stood out with their very shocking visuals, and really amplified the horror elements of the game and war itself.
Alas, an unfortunate recurring theme throughout the game was the beginning of each of the four chapters you put back into another mansion section, which consistently hindered my enjoyment. Despite the addition of new areas within the mansion, it struggled to maintain my interest. The discovery of notes scattered throughout the mansion added some depth and interesting bits to the story but still contributed to the sense of stagnation. Getting puzzles done right in these types of games can be a tough juggling act, and the puzzles here constantly exhibited inconsistent difficulty levels, it was pretty frustrating. “Ad Infinitum” truly excelled when it fully embraced its nightmare sequences set on the frontlines, creating moments of indelible imagery and genuine terror. I wish they knew this was their biggest strength so they would lean on it even more.
So yeah, “Ad Infinitum” harbors a wealth of intriguing concepts that prevent it from becoming just another run-of-the-mill horror game. Unfortunately, the overall experience felt somewhat undercooked, its direction veering erratically. It is evident that the developers at Hekate possess ambition and talent, and I hope that this venture has served as a valuable learning experience for them. While “Ad Infinitum” may not be an unqualified triumph, it does offer a tantalizing glimpse into the potential for their greater achievements in the future.
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Related: Reviews by Nick Navarro