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InFamous: Festival of Blood Review

Pyre and lightning.

The thing about hunting vampires at Halloween is, well, you're going to have some problems with collateral damage. Take yesterday evening as an example. 'Pyre Night' celebrations had gripped New Marais pretty hard, real honest-to-goodness bloodsuckers were thronging the streets, and around the town square, I was laying into the undead left, right and centre, and feeling pretty good about things.

That's until I started to realise that some of them weren't actually undead. Some of them were just, y'know, dead - partygoers in fancy dress costumes who I'd been cheerfully lamping for the last ten minutes or so. Thoughts to the families.

Such hazards come with the territory as far as Festival of Blood's concerned. Sucker Punch's latest electrical adventure - it's not DLC, really, as you can play it without owning InFamous 2 - is an old-fashioned Halloween Special when you really get down to it. It's cheesy, it's creepy, and it's pleasantly inconsequential.

New Marais is locked in the throes of a spooky torchlit festival, the cinema's showing films like Die Cooper and Assassins Bleed, and Cole's had an unfortunate run in with a frosty upper-class vampire lady known as Bloody Mary, who's turned him into a vampire too. With dawn as the deadline, and Cole's Amp replaced with a splintered crucifix (don't worry, he still wields it like a baseball bat, and can pull off a new 'Stakeout' finishing move to boot) McGrath must put everything right again and get himself back to normal. Hopefully without undue, well, collateral damage.

Festival of Blood's campaign may be short, clocking in around the two-hour mark, but it plays out in a decent chunk of the city. You've got the entire south island to mess around in, and a lengthy section of all-new catacomb that leads from the church down to the Sea Fort.

InFamous is always at its best after dark, and Festival of Blood even throws in an over-sized moon.

On top of that, you'll have a handful of new toys to play with. There are new enemies for starters. Enemies like the wall-clinging Harpy, armed, for some reason, with Uzis, and like straight-up vamps, some of whom have pinched Rage's wing-sticks. There's also a huge devil-like Firstborn to contend with from time to time - it can disguise itself as a human, and it continues the developer's slightly irritating fondness for teleporting foes.

Then there are the new attack moves, unlocked by repeatedly staking the undead. Punch Blast's the first, and it's a bit of a disappointment, frankly. If I'm doing it right, it's just a colourful variation on Cole's standard knockback move. After that, though, you get the Shadow Stake, which is a super-powered ram-attack, and therefore a lot more fun. Then you're into upgrades for grenades and rockets. Boom, etc.

As a member of the undead, Cole also learns a few new skills, such as the ability to take to the skies as a swarm of bats (although the controls, which have you steering with the right stick while you hold down 'up' on the D-pad are a little strange), and Vampire Vision, a detective mode clone that allows you to see into another dimension in order to track invisible monsters, follow trails of otherworldly graffiti, and move through doors that - spooky stuff - aren't really there.

"It's cheesy, it's creepy, and it's pleasantly inconsequential."

Your new powers come with a new meter, too, which sees you managing your blood levels alongside your electrical charge. Blood's topped up either by gorging on innocents or by staking vampires, depending on whether you're a nice person or not, and the whole thing slots into the existing framework pretty well. From the start, you're encouraged to approach fights with a view to chaining special moves together with blood-boosting stakedowns, while also keeping a weather eye on your access to the electrical outlets you'll need if you start to take too much damage.

The campaign's relatively inventive as it draws you along from one fight to the next - although there's a little light padding towards the middle - and it's hopefully not too much of a spoiler to say that the spooky adventure ends with a suitably gothic rumble that ranks amongst the series best.

And, once it's over, there's still a fair amount to do in New Marais, as you can zip around the city collecting Canopic Jars that will increase your blood meter, hunt down the undead equivalent of audio logs left by Bloody Mary, some of which are wonderfully nasty, and tackle roving bands of monsters just for the - ha ha - stake of it.

You'll also be able to access a range of UGC missions scattered across the map. InFamous' editing suite is as powerful as it is intimidating, and even playing through the game in a pre-launch state, there was already some excellent stuff to pick through. Plus, if you're a creator, you can expect new items to mess around with in your own productions. I made a level filled with nothing but slightly overweight ladies wearing bat wings. I offer this up without judgement.

Festival of Blood's slight but fun, in other words - a decent shaggy dog story for you to plough through on Halloween evening before the doorbell starts ringing and your friends drop round dressed as the seven ages of David Bowie, or whatever your theme is this year. Sucker Punch may not take the crown for spooky seasonal DLC - it currently belongs to Gearbox for the Zombie Island of Dr Ned, even if, okay, it took that team until Christmas to release it - but, padding aside, this is a pretty likeable fright-fest.

6 / 10

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