Infinite Undiscovery: Is It Really Infinite?

September 15, 2008

Infinite Undiscovery is an action-RPG with a name that makes little sense. Developed by the team at Tri Ace and published by Square Enix, it’s hard to imagine the game going too wrong. No matter what you think of the name, you’ll discover that it’s a solid, well-executed game with a few sharp ideas--even if it doesn’t re-imagine the genre.

In the world of Infinite Undiscovery, the moon has been chained to the earth, creating disaster and discord across the world. This sets up an immediate quest to destroy the chains, and helps forge the game’s identity with distinct imagery. Most characters carry lunar glyphs that let them wield magical powers, and there’s a bit of lunar mystery to uncover alongside the main character’s self-discovery. Protagonist Capell happens to look just like the legendary hero Sigmund, and while his is not the most interesting or original story it’s done fairly well with a few twists.

Infinite Undiscovery plays like a traditional console RPG with an action-heavy battle system and some extra emphasis on environmental interaction. Your path through the game is linear with the opportunity for side quests, and you’ll gather a small army of characters, which you can swap in and out of your party, calling on their individual skills using the connect system. There’s also a crafting system and status enhancing enchantments, which add a bit of depth.

There’s no transition from exploration to battle, but the game isn’t seamless. There’s still a clear separation between safe areas and action areas, so you’ll alternate between fighting, taking in plot via cutscenes, and resting in town. The game’s physical world feels fairly large due to the fact that there’s no separate world map and you’ll do all of your exploring on-foot.

You’ll have to deal with more than a few environmental hazards during your travels, like a desert sandstorm or an unreachable fireball-spewing dragon. One boss battle has you taking refuge behind craggy rocks in between crashing tidal waves. The overall level of interaction is a small step above most RPGs, but it’s no revelation when you “discover” yet another level to pull a lever or play your magic flute to uncover a measly hidden treasure chest. Other ideas like a catapult castle siege and invisible enemies are interesting, but don’t feel properly fleshed out.

Perhaps laying into the game’s theme, Infinite Undiscovery doesn’t always give you a solid indication of what you should be doing, leaving you to figure out where to go and what you should do next. It’s an expected hazard of console RPGs, but it happens here time and time again. Since there’s only ever one action that will move the story forward, you’re often left wandering around until you trigger a cutscene. When you know where you’re going, the game does move at a good pace.

As in most RPGs, you’ll spend a lot of time swinging your sword. Capell can execute several combo attacks that can launch, knock down, or rapidly attack your enemy, and you can choose two powerful battle skills to call on at any time. You can also request healing with a single button press, and give basic orders like “spread out” or “focus” to avoid damage or take out specific enemies.

You can’t directly control allies, but you can assign skills and then trigger them using the connect system. Even if you don’t use the connect system that often, your allies fight extremely well for themselves. This flexible and fun mechanic makes combat Infinite Undiscovery’s strongest asset.

Connecting also comes into play in civilized areas, where you can bring one party member with you who can trigger different conversations and side quests. It’s never necessary, but bringing the right character to the right place can feel like busy work. Party management is also a small hassle, since there’s no way to automatically equip a character with the best equipment available. With more than a dozen potential companions and situations that have you deploying separate computer-controlled parties, staying well-equipped can be a lot of work.

Undiscovery often demands considerable effort on your part, since your objectives are never shown on a map. You’ll have to seek out and find your next destination, yet if you stumble upon an area you aren’t meant to visit yet, you’ll have to turn back and search somewhere else. Towns themselves present a similar situation. You aren’t told where to go, and you’re rarely rewarded for going off the beaten path. Disappointingly, Capell’s magical flute only comes into play at very specific and obvious points. The melodies sound nice, at least.

Infinite Undiscovery’s presentation has its high points, but there’s a real problem with consistency. Sometimes the voice acting is good, sometimes it’s laughably bad, and sometimes voices are mysteriously absent. Overall the presentation is solid, which only makes the dips in quality stand out.

Most characters and environments look great, but there are a number of bland exceptions. Lip-synching is a small issue, but one that’s hard to ignore as it’s consistently off. Combat looks flashy and exciting, but the constant stutter effect while hits are landing, though intentional, can be a little distracting. At least the special attacks pack some visual punch.

Infinite Undiscovery is a capable console action-RPG with an interesting story and some unique ideas, but other than its excellent battle system, the game just isn’t on the same level as the best games in the genre. Total playtime is also shorter than you might expect, but at 20-30 hours, it’s suitably epic without feeling too padded or requiring you to grind. Ultimately, Infinite Undiscovery is much better than its name.