The entire time I spent playing InFlux, I kept wondering to myself and trying to discern just what
about it was causing me to dislike it so much. But ultimately it became clear that there was no one thing that was so abhorrent as to destroy the game, but a long list of mediocre mechanics, frustrating moments, and missed potential stacked upon each other to create a game that is not fun to play.
And you really wouldn't notice this from the outside, so much is the subtlety of InFlux's deeply permeated problems. What appears to be an average, but solid physics based ball puzzle game is instead a amalgamation of poor design decisions and tedious level designs.
The most easily called out of these issues is the sluggish and clunky controls of your ball. There is such an absurd amount of momentum attached to movement that it's nearly impossible to retain any control even when moving slowly. It's as if there's a second invisible player playing beside you which constantly wants to go in the opposite direction, and you are left to try and wrestle control back away from them as you try to move forward with anything resembling precision.
This of course bleeds into the actual puzzle designs, which naturally require excessive amounts of control and constrained movements in order to complete, something which is nigh impossible given the previous paragraph. Compounded upon this is the astounding amount of tedium built into each and every puzzle, often placing you back at the beginning of long sequences for the slightest mistake, and making completion feel like a brief relief before you're put right back into an even more aggravating level. There's nothing clever or satisfying to find here, just an abundance of cheap failures and unrefined design.
This finally ties all the way back around to the clash of styles presented with the presentation. The game is split into two parts: that of navigating a realistic, occasionally rather pretty world ripe with nature, and that or completing the actual puzzles in a sterile white box floating somewhere in the cosmos. The transitions are glaring and abrupt, and turn the parts of the environment that are actually interesting to look at into little more than glorified conduits to carry you from one stale puzzle to the next. This isn't to say the overworld (for lack of a better term) is actually a compelling place to explore, as it feels as barren and underdeveloped as anything in the game, but in comparison to the drab color pallet of the puzzles at least presents an occasional bit of eye candy to counteract the monotony of constantly being in the same room.
There might have been some point where InFlux was coming along into something decent (I'd like to think so at least), but if so something went terribly wrong at some point and sent the entire game careening down the crapper. No matter how hard I tried to enjoy it, every single moment I spent with it was nothing but dull and frustrating, leaving me feeling like the game was just waiting for me to give up on it so it could roll over and die like the lifeless creation it is.