To briefly use its full name, Injection π 23 ‘No name No number’, is a survival horror game that lends a lot from games such as Silent Hill. It has an emphasis on survival and exploration over action and has some very cool features. The game was made by solo developer Jose Antonio Muriel from Abramelin Games and was aided by the PlayStation Talents program. The idea is that this game will be part of a trilogy of titles that will seek to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances of the people from the town and discover why there are hideous monsters roaming around the village in Malaga.
This game has some very unique ideas and despite it being very difficult, is actually very enjoyable if you can look over some of its flaws. Let’s dive in deeper:
Your story begins when your dog, called Joy, escapes from your apartment and goes missing. In your attempt to track her down you find that the town of Villanueva de Tapia, a real village in Malaga, Spain, is completely desolate. The sky is filled with ominous black clouds and there is no sign of life anywhere, that is until you meet some seriously messed up monsters. While you search for your dog you will uncover some secrets in the form of notes, files and other bits of collectables that will piece together the story. The only real plot progression takes place during cutscenes, which are intentionally blurred black and white.
It’s a bit of an eyesore and those who suffer from epilepsy and the like will most likely be affected, the developer even put a warning before the start of the game letting you know that certain scenes may not be suitable for people who suffer from epilepsy. I personally found some of these to be very unnerving and uncomfortable, even as a person without those difficulties.
While they are unclear, I actually quite like them because it fits the style of the game perfectly. Injection is designed for you to come up with your own theories and the cutscenes are no different. I would compare them to a moving Rorschach inkblot test; if you ask different people what they see you’re going to get very different answers. This is mirrored in the notes that you find too, as they point to various devious underlying mysteries. There are satanic rituals, kidnappings and torturers, and even a psychological route, it’s up to you to decide which you believe is really happening, or if it’s a combination of all of them. As such, the game is gripping enough to pull you back even though it is incredibly difficult and sometimes frustrating as we will now discuss.
Right off the bat, you are given freedom as to how you experience the game. An interesting design choice is that Injection, which I will shorten it to from now on, allows you to choose your camera perspective at any given moment. You can switch between first person, third person, a more omnipotent view, and a fixed camera that is reminiscent of the classics in the survival horror genre. This choice is great because it allows you to experience the game how you want. If you have a preference to how horror affects you then you can play it that way. Some people like their horror up close, so the scares hit harder in first-person, or you can use the fixed camera to hide the monsters around the corners, it’s a feature more games should definitely use in this genre. The only issue with this is that sometimes there seems to be a button prompt misalignment, as sometimes in first person I couldn’t interact with things that I could in third-person, but it’s not game-breaking or too much bother.
As well as camera angles, Injection utilises some criminally underused features of the DualShock 4 which I think deserves some credit. The use of the controller speaker is brilliantly creepy and is useful to let you know when you’re being chased, emitting a very disturbing and high pitched sound. There are also interactions with the light bar, where it switches between colours to signify when you are close to an object and starts flashing. This is useful and a fun addition but is definitely limited by the placement of the light bar if you don’t have a newer model of the DualShock 4. These features don’t all quite stick though, as there is a voice interaction collectable which I just couldn’t get to work at all so I’m really not sure what it’s supposed to do. Unfortunately. I think it may be due to my accent as I think it may require you to say Spanish words or numbers?
Now, on to how you will be spending your time in Injection. The crux of Injection will be spent solving puzzles and finding key items. There are some very unique puzzles that I have not seen in other games in this genre which I found impressive. There are puzzles that use codes, puzzles that use lights and even a puzzle that uses a pool table! There’s a good variety here and is very reminiscent of the early games in the Resident Evil series, as well as the combining of key items in the Silent Hill games.
The solutions to the puzzles are hidden in notes, files and sometimes in the environment and you will have to triple check all of your collected items to find the answers. This can be a huge source of frustration though because items in the environment are sometimes so difficult to see that you will miss them entirely. Too many times, I had to backtrack through the environment spamming the interact button to try and find an item I might have missed because they’re extremely small and often blend into the surroundings.
When this game opens up in chapter 3 the map is pretty huge so finding the right file can be very tricky. Some puzzles I searched far and wide for the answers but I just couldn’t find them and had to stumble upon the answers through guessing, which is a shame, but that’s probably because I just wasn’t looking in the right places. Despite this, they are very interesting and will test even the more hardcore of players who are familiar with puzzles in this genre.
The rest of your time will be spent dealing with enemies. By dealing with, I mean avoiding and luring them away from places you need to be. There is a weapon but not until halfway through the game and with the scarcity of which you will find ammunition coupled with how every enemy is a bullet sponge, stealth is definitely your best friend. The aiming can be a little wonky so you must take good care to aim shots accurately, which I actually like because it shouldn’t be easy for an average dude to shoot things like a pro. A least you can actually move while you’re aiming which is a definite improvement over older survival horror games.
The enemies themselves are absolutely horrifying and are very unique. They look like multiple nightmares fused into a single being at a time and often have lots of limbs and heads which just make them very uncomfortable to be in proximity to. It can sometimes feel repetitive avoiding enemies because you will often have to lure them somewhere to move around them, just to pick up a single item then lure them away again. This is heightened in difficulty by the very unforgiving stamina bar that depletes when you sprint. It certainly adds tension to your interactions with them and requires a lot of planning before you engage with them. For that reason, it’s certainly an effective choice but it is let down by a couple of other aspects that make it very frustrating:
The biggest problem with the enemies is how they spawn randomly near your save point. In classic survival horror games, there’s always a ‘safe’ room so you can take that much-needed breather and save your game in peace. The saving in Injection is a little too harsh. With puzzles that can take hours to figure out and long sections of stealth, it can feel completely demoralising when you die and you haven’t saved it or reached a new chapter. So, having enemies roam around your save point is a little bit strange and makes even saving quite difficult, especially when you factor in that you have to find materials to craft a save before you can even save, forcing you to explore and potentially get killed. It’s a very unnerving experience and is not for the casual gamer, it’s going to take you a lot of time to get through the story.
There are a few things I should mention about how Injection performs at the time of my review. On three separate occasions, I was doing something seemingly mundane and the game would completely crash. I’ve seen a few people complain about the same thing and I’m not sure of the cause. Also, Injection π 23 ‘No name No number’ runs smoothly most of the time and looks perfectly commendable, but there are sometimes instances where monsters and objects can disappear at very short distances until you get much closer to them. This is especially the case in the more open sections of the game when you must use the map to explore the town.
There are also multiple instances where the Spanish translation to English isn’t up to scratch. Sometimes it’s just a little unclear what is meant, such as “antidote ends with poison”. You can see what it’s trying to say but ends up meaning something entirely different. There are also parts where Spanish is written in amongst the English subtitles completely unchanged, which was a little strange.
However, to the developer’s credit, there have been multiple updates since launch where they are addressing these very issues and taking feedback on their social media pages so they are on top of these and taking things on board. There was a big discussion about how the health and stamina bars were in the form of wires that are cut when depleted which people didn’t seem to like so the developers have changed them to be more basic and also updated the map system to make it clearer, so definitely message them if you find anything else!
For better or worse, I found myself saying “what the hell is going on?” multiple times in each chapter of Injection π 23 ‘No name No number’. Sometimes I was genuinely interested, ‘what the hell is going on, I need to know!’, then there were times where I said it because I was just baffled, whether by a puzzle or where I was supposed to go. I can fully understand how this game was supported by PlayStation Talents team in Spain because there’s a lot going for it. Abramelin Games clearly used the inspiration of gems such as Silent Hill but then added a lot of very original ideas and made a game with a lot of potential.
The game left me wanting more, so the trilogy is definitely a welcome idea and I look forward to playing those as well. The ambiguity of the story isn’t for everyone as many would like a story told for them, rather than having to work it out all out but that is entirely a preference thing. There are a lot of files to sift through and theories to flesh out but not enough games leave you with that lasting impact so I personally like it. The game is extremely tough and sometimes a bit unfair and the luring and dodging of monsters can be repetitive, especially if you have to repeat yourself due to long sessions without a save.
Injection π 23 ‘No name No number’ is a game that has many great ideas but ultimately doesn’t quite land them all as effectively as I hoped for. Although, the monsters are genuinely horrifying and there are some super creepy set pieces that make scouring through the claustrophobic alleys of Malaga a haunting experience. The difficulty will be a huge turnoff for many players, but for a game with multiple modes, tons of replayability and a lengthy campaign, the game is so cheap at £7.99 that it’s definitely worth a go.
I can’t say I enjoyed every second of the game, there were times where I wanted to give up entirely because of the difficulty, but the pay off of completing each chapter is very gratifying and despite the game’s flaws, I reckon you should give it a chance.
Injection π 23 ‘No name No number’ is also out on the Xbox One and Steam now, so you can pick it up on whichever platform you prefer!