Oddly, the reason I was initially attracted by InFlux was its graphics. And that is odd for me because this is a UDK game that has that realistic approach to visual design that doesn’t usually appeal to me that much. So I think that maybe it was the contrast of the glorious vistas of nature – the bouncy grass, the bumpy trunks of trees and the waves of the sea – against this rather out-of-place metal ball. According to the developers, the ball fell out of the sky on to this world, so that explains everything….
But seriously, just LOOK at that shot below. It’s as if we’re a nature photographer who has sneaked up to a tiny rabbit and managed to get a beautiful snap as it hid from a predator among the long grass it was chewing on. What?! And that’s why I wanted to play the game – because of that peculiarity. And so I have, and now I’m going to tell you that it’s a fine little thing, or at least the limited preview version I played was, anyway.
“InFlux is a puzzle game that mixes exploration and puzzle platforming in a series of beautiful natural and abstract environments.”
I probably can’t explain why (I can’t), but I’ve always loved being a ball in games – whether a marble, a pinball, a hamster ball, whatever! Just the feeling of being able to roll across an environment and pick up momentum and sometimes lose complete control is fun as it makes the usually simple challenge of movement a bit more complex. It’s the same with InFlux, though I do wish that some of the terrain was a bit flatter as you ended getting bumped up into the air quite often. What I want is completely smooth rolling! Then again, we are rolling across beaches, rocks and forest floors here, so I guess that’s consistent with the environment.
You have a number of abilities as this ball, aside from looking as swish as a Transformer’s bollocks and rolling, and they include attracting and repelling objects, and later you unlock the ability to boost too, which is ever so fun, especially when they provide half pipes to go along with it. Looking back on what I’ve played of the game, these mechanics weren’t actually used that much. I mean they were because you had attract the glowy bits to you so that you can unlock the glasshouses, but there wasn’t much variation. I think I pulled down one bit of wood and pushed a rock out of the way, and that was only the game’s way of introducing these mechanics. They may have other uses later on, but mainly the action was taking place inside the glasshouses once their watery walls had been unlocked with the glowy bits found hidden around the natural environments.
Once you’re inside the glasshouses, things go a little more abstract – but it’s not really because the ball looks more suited to these environments. Basically, the glasshouses are all puzzles that you have to solve, mostly by dragging a slightly bigger orange ball around with you. There’s a number of switches that cause the whole glass structure to rotate, and this allows you to its different areas. But because you’re round, and so is your new compadre, things can get a little on the wobbly side as try to find balance. Your goal is one that you’ll recognise from kindergarten – put the orange ball in the orange box. Once you’ve managed this, you’re zapped back into the natural environment with the next area unlocked. And off you go to repeat the process – find the glowy bits, unlock the glass house, solve the puzzle. Repetitive as that might sound, it’s actually got a gentle rhythm to it, and the game becomes quite relaxing, especially as you’re rolling around nature.
And later on in the game you find yourself underwater with blue whales, and among frothing lava too. So there seems to be a fair amount of variation across your travels – both relaxing and more challenging areas too. It’s like a typical white-washed, future-looking puzzle game featuring a ball, but with lovely scenery in between, and I like that. Give it a bump on Greenlight if you think you will too, I guess.