inFamous: Festival of Blood
Returning to New Marais without the hindrance of continuity, Festival of Blood is a unique chance for some irreverent fun within the inFamous universe. The city has changed significantly since we last saw it during inFamous 2: the streets of New Marais are crowded with costumed festival goers and lined with pavilions. The whole ordeal, known as Pyre Night, has a distinct macabre feeling, like a twisted version of New Orleans’ own Mardi Gras, where glow sticks replace beads and fake vampire wings stand in for exposed breasts. The city feels vibrant and most importantly, alive, making it an ideal feeding ground.
Festival of Blood is essentially a stripped down, diet version of inFamous 2. A significant chunk of content has been removed for this Halloween side-story: there’s only one island available, the Karma meter is absent and many of Cole’s potential powers are missing in action. For vets of inFamous 2, the decrease in game world and power selection might come as a shock, but it’s clear that none of it is necessary to enjoy Festival of Blood on its own terms.
Though Cole loses some of the prominent traversal powers he previously had, he gets one truly awesome power, the Shadow Swarm – one of the benefits of being bit by the deranged vampire queen, Bloody Mary. Following the attack, Cole has eight hours to track down the vampiress and slay her before sunrise. During that span, players are free to enjoy the perks of being a creature of the night. The Shadow Swarm allows Cole to morph into a swarm of bats and fly as far as the new Blood Meter allows him. Once dry, the meter can be refilled by random exsanguinations of street folk or by staking the various minions of Bloody Mary that litter the festival.
Shadow Swarm sets a definitive, brisk tone for Festival of Blood’s proceedings. Buildings and long distances across New Marais are only a quick flight away, allowing players to breeze from one quest or collectible to the next. This unfortunately means the entire experience can easily be plowed through in a couple of sittings, but it matches up well with the silly premise; Festival of Blood knows it’s a piece of hokey popcorn entertainment, and Sucker Punch has given you the tool to get in, enjoy it, and get out.
Arguably the most enjoyable aspect of the inFamous franchise has been scouring its cityscapes for Blast Shards and Dead Drops, and Festival of Blood is no different. Blast Shards are replaced by Canopic Jars, which increase your maximum Blood Meter capacity. Mary’s Teachings are the new Dead Drops, filling in the mythos of the vampire queen. Each is a simple, new dressing for the same things you’ve done in any inFamous game, but the implementation is just as fun and addictive as it ever was. And Shadow Swarm makes the hunt feel just as fresh as ever.
If there is one weakness in Festival of Blood it’s in the handling of its story missions. Each of them are engaging enough to warrant play, but the same creativity Sucker Punch is exhibiting in the Pyre Night setting and setup seem underutilized. Pyre Night itself is a concoction of Zeke’s imagination, which gives Sucker Punch the free license to be as wild and bizarre as they want, and by that estimate, Festival of Blood’s mission design remains relatively safe.
Festival of Blood is a satisfying, occasionally exceptional romp through half of New Marais. In a lot of ways it’s the best aspects of inFamous 2 without the fuss of karma decisions, experience points or tedious side-quests. It would have been nice to see Sucker Punch ham up the potential zaniness of vampires and Conduits even further, but as is, Festival of Blood is a lean, breezy feast: one definitely worth sitting down for.