I thoroughly enjoyed Infamous: Second Son on Playstation 4 (review here) and I was excited for the standalone DLC called First Light. In the story of Second Son, you encounter this woman named Fetch but it’s here in this new game that you get a chance to see her backstory and spend some significant time with her.
If you’re a PS+ subscriber, Infamous: First Light is free for download during January 2015. The original game is not required to play (or to enjoy) this standalone DLC.
Imagine a world where some people gain abilities that make them special, usually revolving around controlling an element or type of object. In the original two Infamous games, our hero Cole could control electricity, while our hero of Second Son began with the ability to control smoke. Fetch, the heroine of First Light, can control what is called “neon.” She can shoot precision laser beams, turn into a flash and jet across the rooftops, and even wrap her opponents up in a net of this neon. You encounter her in Second Son, but First Light is really her story completely.
The story bounces back and forth between two points in time, both taking place prior to Second Son. Fetch (voiced by Laura Bailey) has discovered that she can control Neon, so her brother helps her to stay undetected and under the radar. After something happens to him, she gets roped up into a criminal organization in the city of Seattle. We also see a side of her story that takes place two years later, as she’s an inmate in a prison for these superpowered people (who are called ‘conduits’) and she is in a training program to become a better soldier, under the tutelage of Brooke Augustine, a concrete-wielding conduit traitor.
Most of the game is traditional free-roaming through a section of Seattle (not the entire city) yet you can also access this training program and do challenges to gain points and upgrade new powers. The entire length of the campaign, doing all the extra stuff, took about 5 hours.
It’s been about a year since I first jumped into Seattle through Second Son and immediately it felt good. Like I said above, even though you only get a small section of the city to travel through, it’s still enough to remind you of all the good times. You have new types of side missions to do and there’s just enough to have fun with, yet not feel overwhelmed by. In Second Son, there are graffiti opportunities, while Fetch resorts to using her neon to draw on the sides of buildings. There are also new races, where Fetch must use patches of neon to boost her speed. This is a fun addition and not overly difficult.
Let’s talk story. I enjoyed the story quite a bit, for being a small and manageable adventure. It’s simple yet heartfelt, giving the character of Fetch much more depth. The missions are varied enough to keep you engaged, including a few where you have to serve as a sniper and protect a person or object, which was a fun new change. The voice acting was great, most notably Laura Bailey as Fetch and then Travis Willingham as Shane, who’s this mysterious man who shows up to help Fetch find her brother.
In terms of gameplay, all the right notes are hit here. Traveling the city is incredibly fun (as neon was probably the best way to traverse the city in Second Son as well) and these new neon patches that boost your speed make that even easier. When you engage in combat, there are some fun new innovations that keep it fresh yet familiar. The upgrade tree is actually so plentiful that you can only upgrade all of it by competing in the optional challenges and putting in a lot of time there, so you have to strategically think about what powers you want upgraded. One of my favorites, unlocked at the climax of the story, is the ability to essentially mind control enemies and have them fight each other. Fetch’s abilities aren’t about brute force and mass destruction, so this helps balance the field when you feel overwhelmed by enemies.
I’m not usually a fan of challenge maps but this one was really fun and made sense in the story. You can choose from multiple maps and multiple challenges and then see how far you can progress or how long you can last. If you own Second Son, you can also use that protagonist Delsin to complete these challenges as well. And like I said above, if you want all the abilities and powers in the game, you’ll need to put some time into these challenges.
There’s also challenges in the free roam campaign, which encourage you to play the game in non-traditional ways. I loved these, as it gave me new ideas with how to take down groups of enemies.
What doesn’t work?
Since it’s free during January ’15, the 5-hour campaign doesn’t bother me, but I probably wouldn’t recommend paying a lot for this experience. If you unlock everything, there’s really no replayability. There are no moral choices, so there’s really no story reason to replay the game either.
I don’t know if it’s because the game was downloaded and couldn’t take up too much space, but the city seems much less populated with enemies. In Second Son, every time I found myself walking on the streets, enemies would find me. Here, I wanted them to find me and I had to spend 3-5 minutes flying around the map trying to find enemies to fight. When the challenges are encouraging you to defeat certain types of enemies (and in certain ways), it’s discouraging when the map is completely empty of enemies.
If you have PS+, this is a no-brainer. It’s a self-contained, 5-hour story that will entertain you for a weekend. The challenges (both the special maps and the free roam ones) are a welcome addition and the incentive of upgrade points makes them worth doing, especially considering the best upgrades don’t become available til late game. You don’t need to have Second Son to enjoy this, as her story is completely standalone. This might actually give you a decent taste if you’d even like the full version, so consider it a 5-hour demo. I thoroughly enjoyed it though, in terms of story, gameplay, and a beautiful location with cool ways to travel around in it.