Horror-themed Halloween DLC is a trend we can really get behind, especially when they turn open-world games into twisted, monster-filled hellscapes. Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare DLC did it beautifully, and now InFamous is jumping on the bandwagon with a quick, inexpensive adventure that you don’t even need an InFamous 2 disc to play.
InFamous: Festival of Blood sees electrically charged hero Cole MacGrath bitten by an old, powerful vampire during Pyre Night, a creepy festival that transforms a huge chunk of New Marais into one big, fire-lit party. As the streets fill with costumed (and kinda filthy-looking) revelers, Cole has to put down packs of vampires (who have to be staked through the heart before they’ll stay dead), come to terms with his new blood-fueled powers and either figure out how to destroy the vampire who made him by sunrise, or be her bloodsucking slave for eternity.
Wondering where InFamous’ signature moral choices fit into all this? They don’t. (Not that it really matters, since the entire adventure is a story made up by sidekick Zeke to impress a girl at a bar.) For the sake of “the greater good,” Cole is free to chomp his way through as many denizens of New Marais as he likes, with each drained victim refilling his new “corruption meter.” Said meter is vital for doing things like turning into a swarm of bats and… well, that’s it, really. Cole’s new power is the ability to fly around as an invulnerable pack of rodents, and while that doesn’t sound like much, it’s actually a hugely enjoyable way to get around New Marais in a hurry and access. Especially once you’ve extended your meter to the point where you can fly for long periods of time.
It’s also backed up by a couple of other, less significant new powers, like the ability to fly at enemies and instantly stake them, and “vampire vision,” which allows Cole to see hidden glyphs and other fun objects. His Amp, meanwhile, has been replaced by a more useful iron cross with a sharp hunk of wood stuck to one end. And of course, Cole still has access to all his electrical powers, although the fun, souped-up versions have to be unlocked by completing missions and other challenges. (In fact, the really powerful ones have to be unlocked by completing a certain number of user-generated missions, which may put off players who aren’t fans of them.)
Both sets of powers come in handy for fighting off the vampires who now prowl the city, who come in three varieties. Your standard vamps tend to hang out on rooftops or in alleys, teleporting around and menacing you with crossbows and thrown blades, although the more serious threats are the Harpies (female vampires who carry guns and can cling to the sides of buildings) and the Firstborn, huge, powerful batlike vampires who like to hide in plain sight as ordinary humans. (Later in the game, you’ll be able to sense these with vampire vision and stake them before they ever get a chance to transform.)
The new threats (which completely replace InFamous 2’s mutants and Militia members) are accompanied by a ton of new collectibles, which include 100 Canopic Jars (that can extend your corruption meter) and 10 “teachings” from the vampire who made Cole, which are essentially audiologs, and which are made easier to find by glowing, hidden glyphs scattered around the city that point the way to each one. In fact, both collectibles are exceptionally easy to find; not only is the path to each teaching clearly marked, but destroying a Canopic Jar will instantly reveal the next one’s location on your HUD map, making them easy to track down. This makes for some quick Trophies, although it might be a letdown if you’re the type who likes to take your time ferreting out collectibles.
There’s also a new area – the Catacombs, a long underground tunnel that stretches from New Marais’ cathedral to its seaside fort. It’s an interesting place to explore, but it’s worth pointing out that even with that addition, Festival of Blood is confined to New Marais’ starting island. Any areas beyond are strictly off limits, so don’t buy this expecting to get access to all of New Marais for 10 bucks.
All told, Festival of Blood is pretty short, taking at most three or four hours to run through the plot and hunt down all the collectibles. For $10, however, it’s difficult to find serious fault with that – or it would be, if RDR: Undead Nightmare hadn’t already offered roughly twice the content for the same price. However, Festival of Blood manages to make up for the shortfall with the same mission-creation tools that were in InFamous 2 (although content created in FoB isn’t compatible with 2, and vice versa), which – depending on your attitude toward user-generated content – will be either a huge bonus that will make the DLC playable for months, or an irritation that will force you to slog through other players’ creations to get all the Trophies.
In either case, the mission-creation tools take some patience and experimentation to learn properly, and the playable results vary wildly in quality (although you can still set filters to control what pops up in your game world). However, those who enjoy putting together UGC missions will get a kick out of being able to add static 2D cutscenes (made by positioning characters in the world and moving the camera to create a static shot, then adding floating text bubbles), something that’s also being added to InFamous 2 via a free patch.
Finally, FoB adds Move support (which InFamous 2 will also get from the aforementioned patch), although waggle-phobic gamers will be relieved to find out that it’s only as an aiming device; at no point will you have to shake the Move wand to swing Cole’s cross, or anything like that. As is usually the case, Move enables more accurate aiming for those who have the patience to get used to it, but while it makes flying around in Shadow Swarm a little easier, it doesn’t add a great deal to the gameplay. It also doesn’t detract from it, though, so it’s a great addition for anyone who prefers Move to a gamepad.
As short as it is, InFamous: Festival of Blood is enormously fun while it lasts. The Shadow Swarm power is a ridiculously enjoyable addition, the Halloween plot is interesting (and spiked with a visually arresting shadow-puppet cutscene) and the new UGC features make it a must-have for mission-builders. Sure, it could be more substantial, but considering that your $10 buys a self-contained, open-world adventure with unlimited time to mess around and bite people, it’s definitely worth the download.