Ad Infinitum Review (PS5) – Games about war don’t often explore the psychological fallout from soldiers experiencing trauma in battle. The focus is usually on the shooting aspect with games like Spec Ops: The Line being few and far between.
Enter Ad Infinitum, a debut game from German based indie studio Hekate. A first-person psychological horror game that sees players experience the horrors of World War I from the perspective of a German soldier.
Ad Infinitum Review (PS5) – A Decent First Outing That Needed More Time In The Trenches
A More Authentic Feel
Impressively, the majority of the dialogue in the game, including notes you find are fully voice acted. Something which is not often seen in indie titles. However what is a strange choice is the use of very British accents for the English language option.
I found this to be very off putting throughout my initial hours with the game having to constantly remind myself that this was not the tale of an English family.
Switching to the German language option gave a much better presentation of the dialogue. Thankfully the developers have included English subs alongside the German VO which gave a much more satisfying experience. There’s something about the lines of dialogue being delivered with a German accent that makes for a more immersive experience.
The Tom Cruise movie Valkyrie got around this issue cleverly in its opening sequence as the dialog fades from Cruise speaking very fluent German to him speaking English. It’s a memorable scene that was handled very well in my opinion, priming the viewer for the fact that German soldiers would be speaking English with the actors regular accents for the duration of the movie.
The difference though is that viewers of that movie had a point of reference seeing the actor as the lines of dialogue play out and transition from German to English. I feel a better approach for the English language option here in Ad Infinitum would be to have fluent German speaking actors to voice the English lines in their own accents.
Sneaking Around The Battlefield
Players expecting to play out any combat here will be left disappointed as what you have here is a more stealth and exploration style, where you try to piece together the fragments of the soldiers memories.
This is experienced in 2 main locations, in the trenches on the front lines of the conflict and in your home-place, an atmospheric mansion haunted with the memories of the past. The core loop is finding items to solve puzzles and putting together the narrative as its delivered through, notes and memory flashbacks.
The gameplay is a bit janky and didn’t offer much in the way of a challenge. If the tense, heart-pounding, edge of your seat gameplay from Outlast could be dropped into this world then it would be right up my street. A more compelling offering would much better serve the narrative.
The visual presentation for the most part is pretty solid but shines best in low light environments. Textures are impressive giving a believable feel to the spaces. As I wandered down one of the many corridors in the mansion I couldn’t help but get some P.T vibes.
The graphics on display do suffer some hitches though with some odd lighting/shadow behavior and points in the trenches where whole sections of geometry disappeared before my eyes.
Furthermore the character models do not live up to the fidelity of the environmental detailing meaning there was often an odd looking mismatch between the two where the characters didn’t look like they belonged.
Excellent Audio Work Saves An Otherwise Unpolished Finish
There were also some hitches where animations played out for gates/doors opening that were actually locked leaving what looked like open passageways visually that were in fact still locked.
On the audio front the team has delivered in spades, displaying an exceptional understanding of the importance of audio to the horror genre. The score is brilliantly crafted and it so perfectly accentuates the visuals especially in the mansion. Well timed orchestral pieces heighten the tension and build the eerie mood.
The team have to be commended on the work here and I tip my hat to a job very well executed.
Ad Infinitum is out now for PS5.
Review code kindly provided by PR.