Review: Infinifactory

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Sometimes I spend my lunch break at work playing games. I spent one of those precious hours last week building a factory in Infinifactory. For the full 60 minutes I was engrossed in testing layouts and aligning conveyors and wiring sensors, only to discover at the end that my design was flawed and simply wouldn’t work. Instead of falling to frustration, my brain kept churning through solutions until it struck upon one, and it stuck with me for the entire day until I could spend hours more that night constructing it.

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This is the crux of what makes Infinifactory so amazing, that even failure is an engrossing and enlightening experience. And you’re sure to fail now and then as the game asks more and more of you, from moving boxes from one wall to another all the way to breaking down starships and building cannons out of the pieces. It’s the kind of puzzle game that presents you with a seemingly insurmountable task, and through only the basic systems presented it helps you experience that delicious eureka moment when everything clicks. I’m getting ahead of myself here, but it’s hard for me to contain my admiration for everything Infinifactory accomplishes.

You play an unnamed human who gets abducted Fire in the Sky style by aliens. Instead of probing your tender orifices, however, they just task you with building factories for them. Every puzzle takes place in an exotic location with hatches that produce objects, and a platform that demands a finished product made from those objects. Your job is to use your infinite supply of factory blocks provided to combine, separate, and re-scramble the input into the appropriate output. As I mentioned before, this can be anything from linking three boxes together to constructing a missile to breaking down a whale into packaged meat.

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The beauty of this setup is that you have simple tools that can be spun into factories of infinite complexity. Your basic work blocks are things like conveyors and rotators and welders that get the job done. Added to this though are sensor-controlled pushers and blockers, destructive grinders and lasers, and even programmable counters once you get far enough in. The combination of these elements allows you to create meticulously-timed networks of shifting lines and presses that can produce satellites, starships, and even fully-furnished rooms. And consistency is important as well, because every puzzle requires you to produce not one but ten of the requested object. The amount of combinations possible also means that there is no one solution for any puzzle, but a vast array of elegant or brutish layouts to experiment with.

Discovering the full potential of your blocks through the campaign will take well over a dozen hours, spread across upwards of thirty puzzles that gradually ramp up in complexity. As you progress so too does the story, conveyed through audio logs, meetings with your alien overlords, and some quality environmental storytelling. I won’t spoil what happens at the end of the campaign but I will stress that it is one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had in recent memory, especially in the additional content it reveals. On top of this is a wide-open testing mode, a custom puzzle creator that lets you set up your own scenarios, and a fully-integrated Steam Workshop that lets you share and download user-created puzzles of surprising quality.

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Honestly I would be in love with Infinifactory if it had even a quarter of the content. There are few things as satisfying as watching a sprawling industrial complex churn out rovers or tanks in perfect rhythm, complete with hearty whirrs and clanks. The sound design deserves some special mention for the perfect effects and incredibly chill soundtrack (included free with the game!). And there’s even an element of community with your solutions being rated against those of your friends on criteria like how fast they work and how much space they take up. This is a puzzle game that leaves nothing out, combining rock-solid design with excellent story, presentation, and spread of features. Infinifactory has easily claimed a place as my favorite puzzle game of all time, with a perfect balance of challenge and satisfaction.

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