When Infamous: Second Son came out, I loved it, but also felt the need to defend a lot of the decisions made by the writing team. I still feel the same way about Second Son as I did then, and if anything, the new stand-alone DLC First Light further cements my comments on the writing in the core game. That the game refused to focus on any of the other characters besides Delsin Rowe, was part of why it lured me in. It was character-driven and character-focused, which its gameplay attempted to replicate to varying degrees of success. With First Light, Sucker Punch has done something which goes against the entire point of the Infamous franchise: it removes player choice.
First Light focuses on Abigail “Fetch” Walker, the wild, neon-powered character met by Delsin early in Second Son. It takes place before the events of Second Son, with Fetch being held captive by Brooke Augustine at the DUP headquarters near Seattle. Augustine is attempting to mold Fetch into something more powerful and more controllable, but this is only a small part of the actual DLC. Most of the story actually takes place two years prior to Fetch being locked up, where we meet her and her brother, Brent, attempting to leave Seattle. Naturally, things go awry. What irritates me about First Light is that there’s really no surprises in the game. Because of the framed narrative and the fact that we have met Fetch in Second Son, there’s already a predetermined destination. We know which characters die and we know the general reasons why. All First Light does is illuminate some of the finer details which don’t really feel necessary.
Fetch needs to become a very specific type of character by the end of the DLC, and we get to see the journey towards that endpoint. Unfortunately, it does little to justify the fact that it has no moral or player choice. There was even a point when it forced me to do something evil and I tried to just not press any buttons. It was futile. I needed to play evil. The game justifies the lack of agency by having Fetch be a well-written character, but as an Infamous character, it lacks any real significance. She is already a defined character and we are simply watching her transform into that definition.
That isn’t to say that First Light isn’t still a good piece of DLC. It starts off weak with Fetch having limited neon powers and missions consisting of constant combat arenas. And the big addition to First Light are literal combat arenas. Fetch will take breaks in between the retelling of her story to Augustine, and be forced to compete in these challenges where she has to hone her powers. There are two types of arenas in the game: rescue arenas and survival arenas. The rescue ones consist of saving hostages, while the survival ones are just Fetch dealing with waves of enemies. If you’ve played Second Son, you can do these with Delsin and his wide array of powers. But really, I have no interest in the combat arenas since I’ve already had to deal with so many in the DLC’s story.
On top of the combat arenas, there are also challenges that have been added which can be completed in both the story and the arenas. Those add some sort of longevity to the game, as you will likely complete everything in the story, including side activities in roughly 4-5 hours. There are police drones to destroy, neon skill points to collect, and walls to tag with neon graffiti. With DLC like this, I always feel like a lot of the content is merely there as filler. You’re really just paying for the story and production values, which I think barely justify the price. As I said, the DLC is good, and it is because Fetch as a character is intriguing and by the end of the story it starts getting extremely well done. But the first hour or so is a complete drag.
That last section of the story, however, is a marvel to experience. The character of Fetch becomes what she is intended to be, and we get to witness that transformation. Even more important, we get to engage with that transformation. It may not be through moral decisions, but it still lends that agency to the player, which has become so ingrained in the Infamous franchise. The DLC serves to illuminate a character who didn’t necessarily need the extra attention, but it is not a disservice. The unfortunate part of First Light is that there is nothing else worth paying attention to. Sure, the combat is fun, but it is only marginally different than the core game, and the additions made to this DLC act purely as distraction.