Infinite Undiscovery lays out a really interesting premise, but never fully lives up to its narrative ambition.
The Order of Chains has shackled the moon to the planet to draw from its lunar power, adversely impacting the environment. A band of liberators, led by Lord Sigmund, are attempting to literally cut each individual chain link to break this perspective chain of negativity that runs riot throughout the area, and free the moon from its tether to restore nature’s balance.
We follow the wrongly imprisoned Capell, a young flute player that looks suspiciously like the liberator of the land, Lord Sigmund. When Capell is broken out of prison, again mistaken for the hero of the people by one of Sigmund’s comrades, he is hurled into a conflict way above his flute-playing pay grade that just might decide the fate of the world.
“The real-time battle system is deep and rewarding”
In terms of narrative, this game sets out on an interesting premise, and the characters you meet on your journey are both interesting and varied. Unfortunately, the game’s world does not live up to its billing. And, like the moon, the narrative frame is tethered to the game’s limiting and frustrating gameplay environment. It’s not all bad, however, because the real-time battle system is deep and rewarding. While the characters are clichéd, they are likeable enough.
Throughout the game, up to 20 characters join your party. Each has their own unique combat style, skills and armour types that make equipping them both an extensive and expensive job. There’s also plenty of depth to the characters, although some are a little more fleshed out than others, which isn’t surprising given the sheer number of them that join the party throughout the game.
“Each of the character’s backstories seep through and provide emotional attachment to your comrades.”
Voice acting is a hit-or-miss affair with some strings of dialogue being downright embarrassing to witness. Overall, it does hold up reasonably well. Not so acceptable, however, is the lip syncing which doesn’t even remotely match mouth movements. Lips often start moving by themselves moments after the character has already stopped speaking. It provides plenty of unintentional laughs.
It did get better as the game progressed, which is another thing I’ve noticed throughout Tri-Ace’s oeuvre. It often feels like the developers lacked direction early on and that they were figuring it out as they went along. This makes the game feel like it lacks a unified vision, and whatever idea the development team had for how the game ought to play out is lost in translation. Backtracking is a constant issue within Infinite Undiscovery, and when the world feels devoid of life, it’s not the most enjoyable revisit through earlier sections of the game.
Where the game excels, rather typically of the developer, is through battle. The team at Tri-Ace have made a name for themselves with regards to interesting and deep battle systems over the years, and the same holds true here. Up to four people can be part of your team at any one time, with the rest of the characters divvied out between other teams. In particular sections of the game, these other groups separate and go about their own business which is a nice addition and provides a use for each of the different characters through the game’s narrative.
Battles take place in real-time within the field of exploration, with free movement around the area as you hack ‘n slash your way through enemies. Attacks are implemented through just two buttons, with each button corresponding to different moves, which can be changed and upgraded as the game progresses.
Healing is automatic and cast by the designated healer of the team. In desperate scenarios, however, commands can be given with the press of a button for instant healing. This allows for the flow of battle to continue without an incessant need to stop and start the action that often plagues battles in other games. This also means battles are somewhat less tactical, and a little more gung ho than other titles of its ilk. Experience points accrued from battle, money, and items all quickly stock up through play and leveling up happens relatively quickly with little need to grind for experience points, making it quite an accessible game for the genre.
Each character has their own unique set of skills for use outside of battle, such as cooking, enchanting, or blacksmithing (among others). These skills can be used to create powerful items and equipment that is unique, meaning they cannot be purchased from shops. While the creation system is both fun and rewarding, offering some of the game’s best items along the way, they are not mandatory to make progress through the narrative. If crafting and creation are not of interest, there are plenty of shops riddled throughout the game’s world for stocking up on required items and equipment, although it can prove a costly endeavour.
Infinite Undiscovery lacks an world map. Instead, travel between locations takes place in real-time on foot, battling as you go, with plenty of cut-scenes to maintain narrative progression. Party members often speak among themselves as they travel between locales, which keeps things interesting through some of the mundane parts of the game (especially those previously mentioned backtracking sections). This maintains the game’s narrative flow and allows each character’s backstory to seep slowly in, providing some emotional attachment to your comrades.
Infinite Undiscovery has an interesting narrative framework tied up with some enjoyable gameplay elements. The game’s world, however, lacks the soul and depth necessary to make it truly memorable. It looks a little rough for an Xbox 360 game, too. We need more than just a framework of good ideas in a 30 hour game. Unfortunately, Infinite Undiscovery has more moments of silliness than it does of substance, making it more of a chore than a pleasure. There are moments of great gameplay here. But they only present themselves in small fragments, ultimately failing to provide a complete and cohesive experience.