Wales Interactive has become a new name to Nintendo gamers in the Wii U generation, with Gravity Badgers being a fun but 'casual' game and Master Reboot being a rather intriguing, story-driven experience. Next up is another typically diverse approach with Infinity Runner - as the name makes clear it's a runner title, utilising a first-person perspective and a crumbling spaceship as its setting. Oh, and you turn into a werewolf on a regular basis, too.
If Master Reboot - and the upcoming follow-up Soul Axiom - are artistic efforts that aim to reflect on technology, psychology and the human condition, Infinity Runner is a trashy sci-fi horror flick that goes straight to TV. The storyline here is that you're a man - who's naked but, fear not, you see nothing naughty - that occasionally becomes a werewolf, and you're running for your life through a dilapidated ship. Occasionally you knock out some gun-wielding goons while being guided by a strange woman with a rather dry wit, but mainly you run, jump and slide your way through multiple stages and areas.
As this is a runner title your focus is on twitch reactions, using the left stick to move along three invisible lanes in a straight line, while the right stick looks left and right while also providing the turning mechanism for sudden shifts in direction. ZL is a slide move while ZR is for jumping, and away from high-octane runs you sometimes engage in quick time events where you input combinations to knock out guards.
It's a simple formula that's undoubtedly fun while in full flow - the first-person perspective takes a little getting used to but adds to the sense of momentum. It's a relatively cinematic experience, with stages evolving and taking shape with some fairly dramatic sections - there are points where you zipline across large gaps, leap across floating ships or even in outer space. It's stylish and slapdash fun that's only increased when you briefly change into werewolf form, where you become far more powerful and even run along walls on a few occasions.
The core story mode is rather short, easily cleared within a couple of hours, though part of the fun will be in playing through multiple difficulty settings, while the Arcade mode allows you to choose any of the key environments and then run endlessly in randomly generated stages until you lose all of your lives. For some quickfire entertainment that's a good option, as is playing through one-off story missions. Regular checkpoints and the shortness of stages mean that even if you don't bring your sharpest reflexes you can have some no-frills entertainment.
There's no getting away from the fact that we had a lot of fun with this, but there are a number of downsides. For starters this is a particularly buggy game - at times sound or cutscenes wouldn't match up, some sequences between levels were cut short, or strange things would simply happen. That roughness also makes way to some regular crashes later in the Story campaign, and despite re-installing the game we've encountered a consistent issue where our console freezes when loading the final level. We advised Wales Interactive of this but the studio is unaware of it being a common problem, though a re-download and moving the game from a hard drive to internal memory did little to resolve the issue in our case.
There are other disappointing aspects here. General framerate dips occur frequently, which is a pity as they can cause some sections to be tougher than necessary. Meanwhile Off-TV is supported, yet the GamePad doesn't seem to output sound, making it rather pointless. Beyond that the GamePad is the only supported controller, with the Pro Controller not working at launch - an update is apparently in progress to add support. Visuals are pleasant but also have some oddities, and segments of a pumping soundtrack are betrayed by moments of iffy sound levels during quick time events.
All of this adds to the overall sense of sloppiness, which is a pity. Despite its problems we certainly found some enjoyment and time passed by rather quickly as we got into the spirit of the game. Yet simple issues like these shouldn't be present at launch, ultimately, and take a game that would otherwise be a good addition to the eShop down a peg or two.
Infinity Runner offers some slapdash, silly fun for those that like the idea of a first-person runner with some werewolf segments thrown in. Rather like a straight to TV movie, however, its entertainment-factor is betrayed by sloppy presentation and some technical shortcomings. It's worth a punt if the concept is appealing, but falls well short of its full potential.