inFamous: First Light, much like inFamous: Festival of Blood, is a stand alone title/expansion based in the inFamous world. Where the latter was a fantasy thought up by Zeke, First Light serves as more of a prequel, offering a glimpse into one of Second Son's side characters, Abigail Walker, or as she is more commonly known, Fetch. Exploring both her past with the DUP, and the two years prior when she was living on the streets with her brother, First Light is a microcosm of everything that was both good and bad with Sucker Punch's newest iteration of its super powered franchise.
Told mainly through flashbacks couched as a conversation between Augustine and Fetch during her confinement with the DUP, the main story beats cover the last moments of Fetch's time with her brother, Brent, as well as his kidnapping and her struggle to get him back. The story itself is pretty standard, especially where it concerns the kidnapping, but it was still moving to see that even people who can shoot neon streams of energy from their body still can suffer from trust issues and even addiction. Fetch's time as a full blown addict is highlighted in one of the series' comic book cut scenes; it would have been nice to have seen even a portion of that play out live for the character, as there is certainly some interesting things that can be done through visuals and aesthetic to show the effects of addiction, but the fact that it was mentioned, and that it feeds directly into Fetch's immediate problems despite being clean, feels like a strong first step in actually discussing the disease.
I can understand people assuming that I'm reading too much into what amounts to a super hero romp around the northern section of Second Son's Seattle, but given Sucker Punch's desire to cover weighty themes in their previous entries, I can't help but wonder if something more could have been learned from Fetch's being an addict. Addiction is something that permeates everything an addict touches, and seeing that not only from a drug perspective, but also one from her powers, could have lent a little more weight to her story. It would have made it a hell of a lot darker, but given the contrast to her power, bright neon energy, the symbolism could have been extremely powerful.
Speaking of her powers, it was great getting right back into blazing a neon trail around Seattle. As Fetch's focus is Neon, and not absorption like Delsin's, she gets a few more brightly colored toys to play with. She, of course, has the standard neon shot, which when aimed slows down everything to allow for precise blows. Over the course of the game, Fetch also unlocks a blast wave power that locks people in stasis, as well as a “homing rocket” that both looks amazing and it absolutely devastating to those that oppose your brightly colored will. My favorites though, were her melee abilities. The ability to dash between thugs, blasting them in the air with a melee stasis wave, and then finishing them off with a gorgeous melee finisher was ridiculous fun.
Things start to stall when you get to some of the other activities. Like Second Son, Seattle is divided into sections, and each section has the same set of missions to participate in. Like Delsin, Fetch is also a bit of an artist, though instead of spray paint, her weapon of choice in the war of downtown wall art is neon. While the results were often pretty, going through the motions of painting with neon was not as entertaining as it was with Delsin, as it simply lacked the charm of shaking the spray can and changing the stencils. There's also a series of missions that open later that involves tracking down police drones. The idea of tracking them through their own camera, and identifying landmarks to standby so you can blast them out of the air was neat the first couple of times, but by the time you are getting to your fifth or sixth drone, it loses all of its allure. This goes double for the Lumin chases.
Oh... I haven't mentioned the lunimes yet. Every inFamous game has a collectible that gets spread throughout the environment for you to find. The first two games used blast shards and Festival had a number of canopic jars to find. Second Son went back to the blast shards, though they inexplicably were used as a power source by the DUP, which was never really explained beyond Delsin being able to drain them to upgrade his own powers.
In First Light, Fetch blows up a large neon sign, and the resulting explosion sends these luminescent shards all over the city. As the sign was neon already, I can't imagine her being able to do anything to it that would grant these floating pieces of light energy anymore power then your standard neon sign, especially when collecting them adds to a skill point pool to upgrade your other powers. If there was something in her power set that enabled her to change the manner of light energy to not just recharge her stores, but increase her power, I can't see a reason to only use that once as opposed to every time she comes across a neon sign. The fiction behind this sign explosion is the weakest part of the game, and while I'm sure others were able to move on from it without second though, I agonized enough over it to write an entire paragraph questioning its existence. Do with that what you will.
The oddest thing to come out of First Light though, are the arena fights. Put together like the challenge rooms from the Batman: Arkham games, these arenas test your abilities, pushing you through various waves of enemies to a final goal. Fetch is graded on her performance with points, and those points feed into a leaderboard system. Story wise, the presence of these “training simulators” was explained well, and their existence and use within the DUP compound makes sense. Outside, I just question why they felt the need to put these in. I understand the concept of it, and choosing a stand alone DLC to experiment with changes like this is absolutely the way to approach it, but given what the other games were, this addition just feels weird. The strength of the inFamous has always been its mixture of super powers and the open world playground on which to use them; tying them down to an arena robs the game of its open worldiness. They are still fun, as the super powers are as amazing to use there as they are in any other setting, but if they are planning on implementing something like this again, it needs some work.
If you enjoyed any part of the previous inFamous games, there is enough in First Light for you to enjoy that makes its purchase a no brainer. It's gorgeous and fun, and another excellent example of the kind of things capable on new hardware. It still carries its direct predecessor's foibles, namely it's limited mission design, but the story and Fetch's brilliant neon abilities out weigh the eventual wear and tear you'll feel with the side quests. As a more focused experience, Sucker Punch continues to build a world worth investing in.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!