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Ad Infinitum Review - To Infinitum and Beyond (The Grave)

Ad Infinitum Review - Written by Ophidian Mind


Ad Infinitum

PC/XBOX/PS

9/14/23 Hekate/Nacon


ad infinitum game logo

In Ad Infinitum, war and nightmares merge to create a surreal gaming experience. Developed by Hekate and published by Nacon, the game takes place during World War I and players will control a soldier returning home from the battlefield but things aren’t quite as they seem.


You will begin by exploring your family home where you discover that you have been reported as dead, and from here you’ll attempt to seek out your family members. There are hints of your family having been in the home recently, and so you’ll attempt to follow the trail of clues in hopes of finding them. Notes, written messages, and voices on a telephone will give you information to aid you in your search and also serve as background information on the characters. Interacting with various items and decorations within the house will also provide additional information along with items to aid you.


These items are also useful for solving the game's many puzzles which will provide players access to additional areas that were previously locked or blocked off. The puzzles are quite fun and well designed. They range from having to determine a year of importance for a specific character, to using items in the correct order to recreate a scene you heard from a recording. Solving a puzzle will often reward you with key items or what is known as a trigger event depending on the situation. There is also a creepy dummy that serves as a vessel for a spirit, which you will encounter in unexpected places later in the game. He’s a total stalker! If you happen to have a fear of dummies you might want to take this into consideration.


monster that is bleeding
Ad Infinitum is great at building tension and atmosphere

After a certain event which I won’t spoil here, you are transported back to the trenches of war, but things are even worse than before. In addition to all of the dangers, because, well, it’s WAR! There are now hideous creatures roaming about that will attack you, which are very sensitive to sound. Most of the characters you will encounter are already dead as the monsters seem to have taken hold of the battleground. In these battleground areas, stealth becomes a necessity, and you will need to be aware of areas where the creatures can't follow you. There are narrow passageways the creatures can't fit through and dugouts where you can hide from them.


Because the enemies are sensitive to sound, items that make noises can also be used as a decoy to attract the attention of them and give you safe passage while they are distracted. When the smaller critters get close to you, there will be a quick time event where you can rapidly press a button to escape the monster's grasp, but this is only available once per encounter. If it happens a second time, the result will be a game over. The larger monsters will kill you on the first go, though there are a few exceptions such as during cutscenes where you can successfully perform a quick time event and have an opportunity to escape. The game autosaves at checkpoints and you will return to a checkpoint if you die.


The battleground areas also have puzzles, and you will obtain a pickaxe that you can use to destroy walls and debris. It’s easy to tell which areas are weak as an action prompt will appear. The pickaxe cannot be used for combat, so evasion is your only option when you encounter enemies. Completing story events in the battleground will return you back to the house, and from there you will be able to enter an area that was previously inaccessible, ultimately leading to a new battleground area.


Controls are mostly well done as it was easy to run when necessary and using items from your inventory is as simple as pressing a button when you receive an action prompt. Opening doors requires pressing a button and then moving the analog stick. The execution of this mechanic feels a little awkward and sometimes took me a few attempts, but other than that, everything works just fine control-wise.



a solider with bleeding eyes
Mixing horror and war isn't exactly original but it works well here

Many questions will be brought up from the information you obtain throughout Ad Infinitum, leaving you wondering just who is living and who is already dead, including yourself. The portrayal of both the attitudes that lead to war and the traumatic impact that war has on people are handled really well. The narrative does a good job of exploring the human psyche. Some will gradually break down due to tragedies caused by the war and even social relationships will fall apart before your eyes as people struggle to handle the grave reality of what is happening.


Memories of various characters can be experienced through entering certain areas or interacting with specific items. This allows for more insight into the hopes, fears, and desires of the characters and will provide you with a better sense of how they relate to each other. There are also reproductions of famous works of art in the house that provide additional symbolism to the subject matter of the game, such as Albrecht Dürer's engraving entitled Knight, Death, and the Devil, which fits nicely with the protagonist encountering numerous corpses on the battlefield while there are monsters lurking about.


Another interesting detail is that there are paintings created by the protagonist's brother done in the style of the Expressionist art movement, which was an avant-garde style that distorted imagery as a representation of a feeling. The style of the Expressionists was largely influenced by the horrors many of the artists had experienced during World War I and were considered a visual representation of how those war experiences felt. Ad Infinitum takes a similar approach in showing surreal distortions of reality that represent the experiences and emotional reactions during a time of war.


Ad Infinitum’s graphics are fairly well-done, helping to create a tense atmosphere. The house itself is dark, full of riches and wealth, uncomforting. The battleground areas are also strong in atmosphere, being very bleak and filled with a haze of fog and smoke that can make the environment feel disorienting.The sounds of cannons and gunfire mixed with cries of monsters brings a reminder that death is surrounding you, Yes, the devils are on the prowl, much like the Knight in Dürer's engraving. The audio is also well done with convincing voice acting, ambient noises, and music that comes and goes in relation to story events, backed by the game’s well written script.


A demon being grabbed
Numerous bugs and crashes often ruin the experience

Ad Infinitum has a lot going for it and I was greatly enjoying my time with the game, which is why it is unfortunate that I encountered a bug that gave my PC a blue screen of death and prevented me from finishing. I wish there was more that I could say about Ad Infinitum, but at this point I can't progress in the game any further due to the bug but can hopefully supply some sort of update to the finale once this issue is ironed out.


What I can say is that PC players might want to wait until there are patches before making a purchase, but game halting bug aside, I was impressed with Ad Infinitum. Those who like both stealth and psychological horror will find something to enjoy here. In the meantime, buyers beware as there is still work to be done on the technical side.




Pros

  • Strong atmosphere with great audio and visuals

  • Excellent portrayal of subject matter

  • Nice sense of tension with enemy encounters


Cons

  • The door opening mechanic feels a bit clumsy

  • Game-ending bug









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