I don’t do drugs, so I’m not about to make any bold proclamations about the mind-altering properties of Infini, a new puzzle game out today on Steam from developer Barnaque. But the game is grotesque, thoughtful, overwhelming, and altogether trippier than any other game I’ve experienced.
Infini tells the story of Hope, a being lost in the endless space of Infinity after being imprisoned there by a rifle-headed entity called War. Along the way, Hope meets several friendly characters with similarly abstract names. Poetry is a multi-coloured dog prone to going neon while reciting his namesake. Peace is a three-eyed shaman. Memory is an elephant who tends a graveyard that displays memories. Time is a bear covered in gemstones with a large rock for a head.
The main task in Infini is solving puzzles using Hope’s ability to wrap around the screen. If Hope leaves the player’s view from the right, they will reappear coming from the left. Go up far enough and Hope shows up at the bottom of the screen. As Hope is constantly falling, this lets them work their way around walls and other obstacles that can’t be dealt with directly.
Infini’s multiverse of mazes also feature different physics depending on the level and the time at which it took place in Hope’s life. In one, Hope may have wings to fly upwards. In another, the player must rely on freezing in place to avoid obstacles. Hope can change perspective by zooming out, taking in more of the stage and removing barriers as they move off-screen. This perspective shift eventually extends to moving through various planes of existence, requiring the player to watch the background and foreground for the solution.
These were difficult mechanics to wrap my head around. I often found myself hitting a barrier in the level select, staring at Hope as they fell. But I never lost Hope. They were always right there, waiting for me to figure out the stage on which I was stuck. More than wanting to finish the level, I also wanted to see the next cutscene and investigate more of Hope’s world. The puzzles provided a weird form of fun that kept me invested in a genre I don’t normally enjoy.
Hope is certainly hard to come by in the real world, but Infini never touches on these subjects directly. It relies on allegory to explore themes of meditation, self-fulfillment, and community in a world of violence, which resonated with me on a personal level. Infini is a lost and found monument to introspection, its bizarre visuals more like the random contents of a dumpster than a video game. I bashed my head on its walls and found something beautiful.