Second Son is the first inFAMOUS game that does not feature Mr. Cole McGrath as the protagonist. This time the lead is Delsin Rowe, voiced by Troy Baker. Delsin is part of the Akomish Indian tribe near Seattle, Washington; the location in which this latest chapter of the inFAMOUS series takes place. Second Son moves the story along quickly, revealing to us and Delsin himself that he is a very unique conduit when he absorbs the smoke powers of an escaped fugitive. After his tribe is attacked, Delsin finds himself heading to Seattle to confront the one responsible for the assault.
Once Delsin arrives in Seattle, Second Son really comes into its own. Seattle is significant in size and is gorgeously rendered. Everything from the buildings, signs and cars, to the people (including the main characters) are incredibly detailed. Getting around the city is relatively easy though with the powers Delsin has at his disposal. Each power offers specific advantages depending on the individuals’ play style. Smoke allows Delsin to travel through air vents while some of the other powers, like Neon, allow him to run up walls and through the city at a significant pace.
The familiar lattice work of power cables connecting buildings in the previous inFAMOUS games is gone as Delsin turns out to be far more flexible in his ability to scale and travel from building to building. Navigation is fairly easy and not very different from the series’ standard. The familiar mini-map/radar is still there, with the option of pulling up a larger map where custom waypoints can be placed to help guide Delsin to specific points. Just getting around and maneuvering through the city is fun in and of itself, it gets even better when combat and bad guys are thrown into the mix.
“Theatricality and deception are powerful agents to the uninitiated…”
Delsin’s powers aren’t just unique in the way that he moves around the world, they also have their own unique combat mechanics. With smoke, Delsin can shoot fiery bolts at enemies and launch smoke grenades that will allow him to subdue a group of enemies with ease. Neon on the other hand, offers abilities like time dilation when holding L2 to hit enemy weak-points and a grenade that unleashes a stasis bubble freezing enemies in time. Stasis comes in handy, allowing Delsin to quickly subdue or eliminate a group of enemies.
The amount of flexibility he has in dealing with enemies is amplified by the fact that swapping between different powers simply requires Delsin to absorb whatever element is nearby. Tired of Neon and want to switch back to smoke? No problem, just absorb the smoke from one of the burned out cars on the battlefield and instantly change the dynamics of the fight at hand.
Delsin’s melee capabilities come in the form of a metal chain that becomes infused with his active power. When getting up close and personal it whips around embued with Smoke and acts like a lightsaber with Neon. Delsin can also learn to initiate melee and grapple attacks when dashing towards enemies.
“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Karma comes into play during combat, affecting some of the secondary characteristics of Delsin’s attacks. If you want to play as a hero, Delsin’s powers will allow him to subdue enemies in a non-lethal manner much more easily. Playing as a villain on the other hand, supercharges his attacks allowing him to take out more enemies with much more collateral damage. Karma also comes into play in unleashing Delsin’s uber attacks, like Orbital Drop, that will take out multiple enemies in a single stroke. Delsin must perform karmic deeds in-line with his karmic affiliation in order to fill up a special meter.
There are a few morality choices that take place during the cut-scenes that will impact the overall arch of the story but your choices on the field of battle do not have much of an impact when the story-tellers take back the reins.
“The night is darkest just before the dawn.”
As in any 3rd person game, the camera can be an issue. Second Son’s camera suffers at times and I lost complete line of sight on Delsin in the heat of battle which often lead to my death. Aside from the sometimes wonky camera and some weird physics glitches, that saw Delsin pushed by seemingly invisible forces when traversing very uneven terrain, Second Son makes a triumphant debut on the PlayStation 4. Sucker Punch once again captures the fun of being the hero or villain of a major city. Citizens and police react according to your Karmic alignment, often stopping to cheer Delsin on and snap pictures of him with their phones if you play the hero.
The contextual use of the touchpad, replacing repetitive button presses to do things like open doors or disable auto-turrets, is a nice touch. It soon became second nature to quickly swipe with my thumb. Sucker Punch has delicately tinkered with their formula for inFAMOUS, but the core experience of Second Son remains a familiar experience. There isn’t anything revolutionary in terms of the game’s mechanics; however, inFAMOUS Second Son is a delight to play. It is a must play for any PlayStation 4 owner and the best reason yet to join the PS4 community.