When you came in, the air went out...
When Hell is full, the undead will walk the Earth. And when there are too many goddamn zombie-themed expansions in video games, Vampires will walk the streets of New Marais. In a style similar to Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare expansion last year, Sucker Punch have anted up their game with a horror twist, just in time for All Hallows Eve. The timing couldn't be better, even if the game itself most certainly could have.
Much like Undead Nightmare, inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood is seemingly set within an alternate universe; a ''what-if'' tale woven by Zeke as he attempts to woo a full fledged piece of cleavage-on-legs at a bar. He details the time when the Demon of Empire City was bitten and infected with the vampirism virus, making Cole essentially even more of an utter power-house than he already is. How this affliction came about was by a nasty
bite chomp by the Bloody Mary herself. Even with Cole's freewill mostly intact, he but only has eight hours before he'll eventually succumb to the curse and carry on as a permanent slave to Mary from then on. It introduces a similar time-frame akin to inFAMOUS 2, complete with a reminder every so often during the story of how much time has passed. This isn't an ever ticking clock, however. Time only jumps forward whenever the story dictates it.The story itself is enjoyable thanks to the healthy dose of Halloween it's been drenched in during New Marais' Pyre Night holiday--essentially Mardi Gras mixed in with Halloween, with a slice of Bonfire night--though the actual narrative isn't particularly deep. It all more or less goes how you'd expect it to across it's 90 or so minute running time. Some more buddy-ing it up between Cole and Zeke is certainly welcome, though again, not to completely put this side by side with Undead Nightmare, it doesn't nearly deviate as much and go towards the same kind of weird and wonderful that John Marston's zombie related woes forced upon him.
There is no longer a morality system, either, and while the overly hyperbolic black & white decisions thrusted onto you in previous titles weren't always handled the most elegantly, the fact that there was nearly always two distinctive ways to handle most situations was a great excuse for replay value--and inFAMOUS 2 in particular offered up a couple of completely polarising endings for the final curtain at that. Festival of Blood contains only the one path to take, and only the one ending to attain. In a series that is meant to fluctuate around the whole idea of choosing between the Heroic and Villainous stance, FoB with its off-kilter story material makes for a lost opportunity to allow players to make some radically different choices across Cole's MacGrath's eight hour vampire stint.
The gameplay, while will look fairly different, largely plays out the same as well. While the title may have cut off the 2, by all means this is inFAMOUS 2. Contrary to what you may have expected, however, FoB actually lessens the amount of options you have at hand. On one side, Cole's new vampiric way of life has at least offered the one shining highlight FoB introduces: the ability to fly. Like any classic vampire, Cole now has the ability to form into a storm of bats and charge through the night sky--albeit for a limited time. But in exchange for the addition of this one new ability, Cole can no longer perform any of his previous Ionic Powers; no more hurling a God-sized vortex of destruction against all who may oppose you. Cole can no longer browse across the numerable alternating versions of his stock powers, either.
He'll at first be stuck with the default electric bolt, blast, grenade and rocket (his fire and ice skill sets have been completely removed as well), but will be able to unlock more powerful variants--variants already established in inFAMOUS 2, however--by completing the side missions. Once you've unlocked that variant you won't be able to switch back. Again, a series that was known for its freedom of choice stripping away so much of your customisation potential damaged this latest entry and simplified the combat to a degree where I would most often opt to just fly away instead of fight; you don't earn any experience from defeating enemies, so minus the trophies and when the story/side missions call for it, there's no real reason to engage in the combat. The flying is at least pretty damn exhilarating, and stayed fun for the entire duration FoB kept me in my seat. But to trade that one ability for so much didn't feel like a fair trade.
Other than the flying, Vampire Cole performs pretty much like regular ass Cole. That flying ability is supplied via blood, however, thus Cole must feed on the innocent to recharge (just for flying; all his other powers still require electricity). It's pretty neat to see Cole munching down on the folks of New Marais, but despite Cole's appearance, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish the two Cole's from one another. At least there are a healthy sum of new creatures to fight. As it turns out, Vampires are freakin' everywhere! And Pyre Night is the perfect opportunity for all kinds of fanged felons to come out and take advantage.
There are primarily the two main vampire variants; the males who hurl hooks at you, and the females who dual-wield guns and like to hang upside down from lamp posts (which Cole expresses his attraction towards) shooting at you with terrifying accuracy. But then there are the First Born; most often found masquerading as ordinary people, these are the monstrous man-bat like creatures the more primal vampires often attest to resembling in fiction. They play out like mini-bosses, similar to the numerable swamp monsters during inFAMOUS 2. They're pretty easy, but they feature the skill to turn people around them into ghouls, forcing the people to go insane (and for some reason grow as tall as basketball players) and try to bite you. Those are the only enemies you'll encounter--none of the vagrants from inFAMOUS 2 return here--but across the four hour pack of content FoB should supplement, if you decide to take on the side stuff, the small variety won't stand-out as much as you may initially think.
Speaking of the side stuff, that's what'll more than likely pan out a lot of peoples playtime during FoB. Similar in scope to both inFAMOUS games before it, there'll be collectibles abound; one of which will increase your maximum blood supply, allowing you to fly for longer, and the other replaces the back-story spouting dead-drops. Glyphs located across new Marais seek to point you in the right direction, to apparently allow new-comers into the fold to learn of the ways of the vampire. What they mostly aspire is to give you some added back-story for the leading lass herself, Bloody Mary. Accentuated by Mary's brilliant voice actress, they were definitely the one collectible I was striving for the most, and paired with the sharp writing allowed for some appropriately chilling escapades to listen to. Otherwise, the game is still fairly light. The entire package can take at most maybe 4 hours, and possibly only an hour if you strictly stick to the story beats; it's not an offensively short length, if still paling in comparison to Undead Nightmare's (sorry, I know) potential 10-12 hours it had in store. And the length wouldn't matter so much if Festival of Blood at least gave you something a little more different. New Marais fortunately is still a wonder to behold, and now thanks to the celebrations of Pyre Night is even more characteristically joyful and full of bustle. Fireworks are going off, people are parading in demon masks, dancing, drinking, and the entire city has virtually been transformed into a kind of devilish playground--or at least the first island has, as you won't be able to travel to the other.
The atmosphere is brilliantly administered across all fronts, the story is lively and features a few more of those expertly produced motion-comic, and Sucker Punch have even included a much expanded UGC program - complete with the ability to create your own narrative comic-book-like panels. The style is here in full force, but the squandered variety and wasted potential for so much more leaves the substance lingering below, buried and forgotten.