Within inFamous Second Son, Delsin comes into contact with several new and interesting powers, the likes of which we hadn’t previously seen in the series and which certainly took his abilities in interesting directions. In some ways it’s actually quite interesting that Sucker Punch showed so much restraint, keeping his arsenal in check throughout.
However, the universe and backstory to the game, whether you think of the various powers demonstrated in the first two games or those mentioned in the dead drops in Second Son, point to several other powers as well. inFamous Paper Trail takes one of these, paper, and adds an additional story arc and conduit to Second Son, promising an extra 5-6 hours play over six weekly episodes.
Rather than existing purely within the game of Second Son, Sucker Punch have instead teamed up with 42entertainment to add gameplay that reaches out into the real world internet by way of an Alternate Reality Game.
Signing up for an account on infamouspapertrail.com, you take part in a few tests to ascertain whether you are likely to possess the conduit gene and your position on the rights of conduits. These simple introductory tasks will earn you some bonus karma when you hop into the game.
The story itself kicks off with a mission in Second Son, revealing another string of murders in Seattle at the hands of another conduit. It’s understandable that Delsin’s initial conclusion is that they could be related to Fetch, or at least a copy cat killer, as he encounters a mysterious new conduit at her billboard. Chasing after the White Rabbit, it’s a very similar feeling first encounter to Fetch’s, in fact, but quickly pushes you back to the website.
Having collected evidence at a crime scene, you can then view it on the Paper Trail website, digging through a few photos, opening up the origami doves which are her calling card, and piecing together the clues in order to find the phone number of a drug dealer to track.
It actually sends you off to another website with these clues and pushes you to engage in a little social engineering to find the number and let you head back to the game for a mission, followed by more puzzling and clue hunting on the internet.
There’s actually a few rather tricky little puzzles, which took a little thought to figure out. If you can’t see a solution in front of you, it’s often trying to send you to another website, giving you a number to trace or look up, and I’ve often found myself jotting down a little detail, though mainly so I don’t have to hop between tabs too often.
The White Rabbit conduit is also an intriguing character, alongside her powers. Wearing a mask that lends her that name, she leaves behind her a paper trail that’s reminiscent of a rhythmic gymnast’s streamers and a smattering of floating origami creations, which is visually arresting. It’s clear that she’s leading Delsin on a path to uncover certain mysteries, explaining her murderous actions, by way of messages written on the backs of the origami doves you find at each crime scene.
We’re at the midway point of the story, with the fourth of six weeks set to come out tonight. I must admit that I’m really hoping that it steps up a gear, as the first three weeks have generally been quite uninspiring. There’s some nice puzzles on the ARG side of things and it’s a well crafted set of puzzles, but whenever it requires that you head back to Second Son itself I’m left underwhelmed.
Too often have I had to chase the, admittedly beautiful, paper trail of the White Rabbit, as she leads me on yet another wild goose chase that constantly doubles back on itself to fill out time. The in-game missions can often be very short before sending you back to the website, and offer little in the way of new gameplay ideas. It retreads the same ground, but worse, it noticeably reuses dialogue from the main game, belying a limited scope that isn’t able to bring the actors back into the recording booth or push the game itself in a new direction.
With Paper Trail halfway through its six week run, though, there’s plenty of time to redeem itself. There are certainly further plot twists – though last week’s was easy to miss – to come and I’m interested to see if Delsin will get his hands on another new power or if they can work some fresh ideas into the console side of things.
Unfortunately, as it stands right now, this is merely a fleeting diversion that could easily have existed purely as an ARG to build hype in the run up to Second Son’s release.