There’s a lot we’ve had to give up this year, not to mention the amount of times plans have had to be changed. So this Halloween (or in the lead up to it at least), instead of trick or treating, why not do something different? Carve your pumpkin, draw the curtains, cut the lights, and settle into something very much on the spooky side.
Well, I say spooky – a more accurate description would be horror. Developers Abramelin Games claim that “Survival horror is back”, and it comes with puzzles, exploration and strategy. Not only that, but Injection π23 ‘No Name, No Number’ comes with a rather ominous sounding title too.
Everything is trippy right from the word go. You’re even advised to turn off the lights, and plug in your headphones for the best experience. I must say at this point, if you suffer with epilepsy, this is definitely not suitable for you.
The use of sound and image distortion is designed to confuse the senses and put you on edge from the get go. Injection π23 ‘No Name, No Number’ also relies heavily on jump scares, which prove effective at first but soon lose their impact. This is mainly because the same formula is used in the lead up to, and execution of, each encounter.
Overall however, Abramelin Games have done a good job of creating a world full of threat and uncertainty. Alas, when you’re playing things look decidedly less stylised and instead very, very basic. The visuals look like they could be last-gen, if not older. If you look at the fire right at the beginning, this will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
It’s not only this, but despite the environments being bleak to help set the mood, they are actually pretty vacuous. It’s set in a mysteriously devastated Spanish village – the dialogue being in Spanish also – but it could be located anywhere as the level design is fairly generic. There are a few bits of info you can glean by hitting “A” next to certain parts of the environment, but that’s it. Aside from your main puzzle thread, there’s virtually nothing else to discover.
Anyhow, as I briefly mentioned something awful has happened and you find yourself trying to unravel the mystery. You do this, in part, by finding several newspaper clippings and other documents scattered around the village. You learn about some truly disturbing events, such as human mutilation and the kidnap and murder of infants. However, you’ll also start to question your own sanity as you see some truly ghoulish sights.
It’s clear to see where the inspiration came from for Injection π23 ‘No Name, No Number’. The inventory screen feels very Resident Evil, right down to how you organise and inspect your items. It sounds daft, but even the footsteps sound exactly the same as those in the remake for the GameCube. Spooky.
“But what about the gameplay?”, I hear you cry. Well, you can play with the camera in several positions, including first and third-person, as well as the Resident Evil-styled fixed camera position. You can switch between the options at any time by using the D-Pad, to settle on which suits you best. You are then ready to embark on your nightmarish adventure, looking for solutions to the puzzles that prevent you from progressing.
You’ll find a torch early on, but will need to use it sparingly as it’s battery powered, and as such it will need time to recharge after use. However, it’s not just light which is important here; there’s a small sound symbol under your health bar which will light up when you are making noise. If it does, this means you can be detected by nearby enemies.
Talking of nasties; the enemies really are nightmarish. They aren’t too common, but when you encounter one you’ll usually need to sneak around it. Failing this, if you’re discovered, hitting “X” will see you sprint for your life. Despite your efforts to remain undetected, some enemies will be able to immediately perceive you, meaning you’ll need to be light-footed to survive them. You don’t remain helpless forever though – you’ll find weapons later on in the game with which you can defend yourself.
In terms of puzzling, at times you will be stumped on how to progress. Handily, hitting “Y” will bring up an annotated map which is added to as you explore the village, often containing clues on how to progress. You can then use the bumpers to cycle to your inventory and documents. The map helps, up until a point. That’s because some of the puzzles’ solutions are so abstract, you’ll struggle to crack them. For example, switching to a first-person viewpoint to illuminate a symbol in order to escape a locked room.
This is by design, and as a result makes Injection π23 ‘No Name, No Number’ very challenging. What doesn’t help is that some items are near impossible to spot and as a result are easily missed. This can prove frustrating, as the puzzles are difficult enough to solve by themselves, and the clues often subtly hidden and easily passed by. Luckily, I had a guide to hand which I admit I had to use a couple of times.
If things weren’t hard enough, you can’t save whenever you like. You can only do so at save points and when you have the necessary items to craft the tools needed for the save ritual. There is a save point in every chapter and you’ll be wise to do make use of this regularly.
Injection π23 ‘No Name, No Number’ is priced very reasonably. There’s a lot of game for your money here, as the main story has eight chapters in total. They don’t take too long to complete if you know how to solve each puzzle, but the chances are you’ll be getting stuck at least a couple of times per chapter.
Not only this, but there is lots of “transmedia” to unlock, such as collectibles, galleries, secret documents, alternative endings, different game modes and difficulties to play on (which include different puzzles to the main game). However, you’ll need to beat the main story first to unlock these. Scanning QR codes unlocks other goodies too.
Injection π23 ‘No Name, No Number’ on Xbox One is ambitious but doesn’t quite deliver everything it sets out to. However, despite some questionable graphics and an intense difficulty curve, it provides moments of genuine horror linked together by enjoyable puzzle solving.