Scary games have always been one of my favourite genres and the latest one I have had the pleasure of playing is Infliction, the first of hopefully many games released from Caustic Reality.
Infliction is a first-person game based in a typical suburban environment where everything seems relatively normal but quickly turns into a mental rollercoaster. This psychological thriller captures the essence of the horror and thriller stories and projects it to you with pin-point accuracy. Jump scares are plentiful and timed perfectly, some can be expected, others you won’t see coming, and that is what makes this game so good.
In addition to this, the game does not hold your hand throughout, there is no narration. You learn the story, background and situation as you progress with objects located throughout the environment. These can take the form of letters in drawers, pictures on the walls and much more. You can really get attached to the main characters through this information, and what makes it great is that you benefit from exploring everything rather than skipping through.
I was granted an early release of Infliction so that I had experience with the game ahead of PAX Australia 2018. It was here that I was able to meet with Clinton McLeary who is the man who created the majority of this game single-handedly. Below is the interview:
Clinton, tell me about your game Infliction.
Infliction is a story-driven horror game. I suppose the real horror exposes itself pretty quickly, and the story of the game is about, sort of going back to the start and figuring out how [the characters] got from being happy to tragedy.
It really grabs you from the start. There is a moment in the first cutscene that throws you straight into it, doesn’t it?
What made you make this type of game? What was the inspiration behind it?
I was studying Game Art for a few years and I was really inspired by Gone Home, so there is a lot of Gone Home references in the game and you’ll probably see that as you go through and some environmental story-telling and that sort of thing. And then there was a point where I became a father during development and that really changed me as a person fundamentally. I took a couple of months away from Infliction and came back to it almost a different person with different influences and the things that would probably have scared me before were totally different as well. This really points the whole story about that one experience that I had. So that was a big inspiration for me. I suppose when your talking about other external inspirations, moreso the games, horror movies and TV shows really influence the horror. You’ve played through the game yourself?
Yes, the whole way through.
So, I’m sure you would identify a couple of potential homages to movies.
Yes, definitely. I was thinking that the pacing of it is what really got me. You roam around and try to figure out what is going on and then BAM, jump scare at the right moment. You really timed it well.
And, this is your first game?
You just started up Caustic Reality for this game?
Yeah, I started Caustic Reality, I’ll release this thing. First game and first time in the gaming industry doing anything.
This was part of a Kickstarter promotion as well?
Yes, I did the whole game solo but in the last month I really wanted to polish it with some animations and such. So, about three months out from launch, we came up with the idea of doing a Kickstarter and that was to be able to get the animator in just to polish up the big poignant moments where you get to interact with certain characters. So that was the point of the Kickstarter, it was successful, and we’ve got a great little community behind the game which is great. They are all passionate and I am really grateful for them as well.
Absolutely. What do you think was the greatest challenge for you in making Infliction?
The biggest challenge is the fact that I am just solo, and I know that is kind of like a blanket statement. But if I am to put that into context, I have a design background, 8 years in design, then I studied Game Art. I’m not the most experienced programmer in the world, I know programming to an extent, but when it came to the time to start coding an AI character, I don’t know any AI programmers so off to Google I went. When you come against these things, it can be quite easy to get started with an AI character but quite difficult to get them to do certain things you want them to do. So, a lot of the challenge comes from when you’re faced with having to do something that someone else’s whole job, that they would have studied years to become a master of, I’ve got to learn how to do it well enough that it can go into a game and it’s not going to break. These challenges would crop up all the way through production. Animation as well, I never quite nailed animation all the way. I’d say 90% of animation in the game is still mine but the big show stoppers are from the guy I hired.
As an independent developer, how difficult was it for you to find something that wasn’t done before?
The big trick for me I think was that I haven’t really played any horror games. I haven’t played Outlast, Layers of Fear or Resident Evil 7, I almost intentionally avoided them because I knew I wanted to theme my project around horror and didn’t want those influences. It might be difficult if I had have played some of these, but my main inspirations come from other parts of the genre and I think that lends a different feel as well. Also, I think the games like Gone Home and Firewatch are in the genre and have horror elements, but they’re not horror games. So, I’m not going to get those comparisons with those games, although strongly inspired by them.
What lies in the future for you, any plans yet?
I think over the next couple of years I’m going to be porting Infliction to everything. I’ve got Xbox and PlayStation in the pipeline next, after that I’ll look at the Switch and hopefully a VR version. So that is a fair bit of work again for one person. You never know, I may be able to get some help with it, hopefully. But after that, I think I’m going to tackle something a little bit smaller because the scope of this for just me, was quite large. It did get on top of me at times, and I did wind up in a pretty heavy crunch. I think next time I’d like to be fully charged for the whole development and scale it back a little bit. I’m not entirely sure yet, I’ve got ideas on the shelf.
I think you’ve done a great job, it is a great game.
Thank you so much.
The price of $25 AUD on Steam is a great price, it’s a steal and I’ll definitely be recommending it to our community.
As a final note, please take the time to try out Infliction it is such a good game, there is a demo available on Steam if you want to try it before you invest.
Thanks go out to Lauren Clinnick for her assistance and of course, Clinton McLeary for taking the time to conduct this interview.