Infinite Undiscovery is the latest game from the Square Enix camp of Japanese developed role playing games to hit the Xbox 360. With a few games from Mistwalker garnering mixed receptions from gamers, this time Tri-Ace is at the helm and for those of you familiar with their other titles, InfiniInfinite Undiscovery is the latest game from the Square Enix camp of Japanese developed role playing games to hit the Xbox 360. With a few games from Mistwalker garnering mixed receptions from gamers, this time Tri-Ace is at the helm and for those of you familiar with their other titles, Infinite Undiscovery offers a journey into a fantasy world which we can all relate to in one way or another.
In this game, you take on the role of young upstart Capell, as he is thrust into an unwitting situation due to the fact that he has an almost identical appearance to the leader of a resistance movement who are tasked with smashing huge chains that link the world’s moon to the surface. This in itself brings misery and doom to the inhabitants of the world, and with the evil DreadKnight being at the centre, Sigmund (the resistance’s leader) and his band of followers opt to fight until all chains are smashed. Having been thrown into a local jail by the locale militia, Capell is thrust into the fight after being rescued from his captors by the lovely Aya ( a female member of the resistance). From the offset, Capell is thrown into a situation he’d rather avoid but after some bonding with Aya his journey leads him on a quest to save the world.
te Undiscovery offers a journey into a fantasy world which we can all relate to in one way or another.
Tri-Ace has decided to ditch the traditional turn based method of combat which has been synonymous with Japanese developed role playing games over the years, in favour of real time combat which is evident from the very opening of the game as Capell and Aya escape the confines of the jail. This approach seems to becoming more and more prevalent as the genre really did need to spice things up a little after offering the same turn based interface for so many years. For those of you unfamiliar, what this actually means is that during your progression from point A to B or wherever else you want to deviate to, outside of safe towns and settlements, you’ll be presented with open areas which are the haunts of various enemies. This means that you’ll see them in real time and have the option to sneak past if the terrain allows, or perform a sneaky attack which gives you a bonus. This is most certainly a very welcome approach and means that players can opt to fight as many or as few battles as the game allows (enemies re-populate the areas if you return to them once cleared).
Aside from offering a very well thought out story, which you’d expect from a role playing game, it’s the combat that really stands out in this game, although it’s not without its flaws or annoying moments. As the story progress and as Capell becomes more in tune with the overall plight of the world rather than his own desires, you are presented with a number of characters who join you on your adventures. This is nothing new, other than the fact that the real time combat element makes their involvement a little more engaging as you’ll have plenty of options to choose which characters tag along with you or not. What is actually good here is that as you roam the lands, your party of three others are seen running around with you rather than merging into your character as you move. Then once you get into combat, there’s a sense of companionship as all four of you slice and dice the various enemies the game throws at you.
The basic combat with Capell is pretty simple as you are able to tap either the A or B buttons for light and hard attacks respectively, and with more attacks being unleashed if you hold the buttons down momentarily as if charging up attacks. With various button presses you are able to perform simple combos that work well in the real time environment. Couple this with the fact that you can move around at will draw or sheath your weapon for those moments when you’d rather be a chicken, and you have a combat system that is pretty engaging for the most part. The real intricate part of the combat is when you use the connect feature which allows you to order one of you team mates to perform a specific attack move or action. Like Capell’s charge up moves which can be preset in the menu and changed when more skills are gained as you level up, you’re able to assign what moves your team mates perform when in connect mode. This adds another angle to the combat and if you’re willing to experiment a little can give you a distinct advantage over many of the game’s enemies. A good example of this is using a ranged attack on unsuspecting foes from Aya which gives you a welcome, yet brief attack bonus. It is entirely possible to defeat foes without even having to unsheathe your weapon. It all sounds pretty peachy, and in some respects once you get to grips with it, it can be. However, to throw a spanner into the works, the interface is rather clumsy and more often than not becomes a little cumbersome to use when the crap hits the fan. You really have to think fast, and more often than not it’s most likely to be a feature that is ignored for the most part, although as I mentioned, those who do persevere with its lack of fluidity will gain a distinct edge, even against some of the later intimidating bosses.
Outside of combat, you’re able to utilise another of the game’s unique group features, which enables you to craft various items, including weapons, potions, spells, armor and more. This can easily be overlooked as the more traditional methods of acquiring items are still heavily present. However, spending some time here going through the various characters and seeing what they can offer, can yield some rather interesting and useful results – although there seems to be a balancing issue in some places where you can cheat the game to an extent and earn lots of cash in a very short space of time. I’m not sure if this was left in deliberately or not.
Going back to the story element, and whilst the game and its leading cast are somewhat cliché, the story is engaging enough to make you carry on until its conclusion. However there are some rather tedious hair pulling moments to be had at several junctures in the game, where a lack of save points between some areas creates unnecessary frustrations. You’ll often be thrust into a bad situation with little warning and instant killed before even realising what happened. If this occurs after half an hour or more away from the last save you made, then you can imagine the frustration. Luckily these experiences make you more prepared, yet is still a rather punishing approach. On one occasion I spent over an hour, lost in a forest which meant fighting lots of enemies and actually leveling up quite a bit. Once I had discovered the exit from a maze of unusual teleports, I was met with a cut scene and then thrust straight into a battle which killed me and my party in seconds. This waste of time was pretty punishing and had me furious to the point where I almost gave up on the game. Luckily my desire to see the conclusion of the game’s characters’ plight was enough to drive me onwards.
The game’s graphics are really a let down during the opening moments and are really not a true reflection on what’s offered here. You start off in a dark dungeon type area which is shrouded in darkness, and then upon escape enter an equally dark and moody woodland area. From the offset, for graphics whores, this is certainly enough to create the wrong impression about the game, because an hour or so past this area and not only does the game in general pick up pace, but the game’s graphics come into their own. Infinite Undiscovery isn’t the best looking game on the system, but there’s certainly some areas that look very pretty indeed. The characters themselves aren’t the best looking either, but do convey a varied bunch of individuals to care for, well enough. There are some poor looking textures on occasion, but I would say my main beef with the graphics are the effects used in combat which can turn the screen into a palette of effects, leaving you somewhat disorientated to what’s actually happening. It’s a minor quibble but one that annoyed me never the less.
The sound is quite the mixed bag, because on one hand you’ve got some extremely well produced music on hand to instill the right emotion within you just at the right times. Yet on the other hand you’ve got some rather lackluster voice acting that somewhat takes away from the grandeur of some of the game’s musical pieces. For the most part you’ll find the voices bearable, and in some cases the script might actually make you laugh out loud. However the lack of westernized lip syncing somewhat detracts from the experience as well as the fact that I assume to save space on the discs, that not all scenes use voice overs and just have a line of text to convey conversation. It’s rather weird to see but rest assured, the most important scenes are voiced, whether this is a good or bad thing is rather subjective. For me the performances bordered very much on pantomime although in general decent enough to convey the characters and their plight.
Other than the poor save points adding more to the playtime than is necessary, Infinite Undiscovery can be beaten in a reasonable time. My final clocked time playing on the normal difficulty was around 25 hours. That said, there’s plenty of places to explore off the beaten track and with the added element of creating stuff and building skills for the NPCs you could carry on playing for much longer. Once the game is beaten, you have the option to start from scratch using a Hard difficulty or carrying on in the world before the final boss area, with a new dungeon area unlocked. This offers more items to find, and more extremely tough enemies to grind. The achievements seem to be fairly balanced too, meaning those of you who want total completion of the game are going to have to invest the time required.
Infinite Undiscovery isn’t the greatest RPG out there, but with charming characters and an interesting story (despite being dipped in rather an abundance of cliché) it certainly is well worth looking into if you like RPGs. I would say that the game isn’t very accessible for enticing new gamers into the fold due to the rather lacking opening and the clumsy and somewhat intimidating interface. Yet if you can persevere and learn as you wade through the opening, you’ll be greatly rewarded with a more enjoyable experience overall. I think this is going to be a love/hate type of game, because like I mentioned, I had my fair share of heated moments due to poor game design. However I am most certainly glad I stuck to it because in the end the game provided me the entertainment I was looking for.