Infinite Undiscovery (1)

Genre: Action RPG
Year: 2008
Developed by: Tri-Ace
Published by: Square Enix
Platforms: Xbox 360
#395
Feeling Like: Checking the dictionary

This is a wacky one.

If you argued with me, even with a mild amount of energy, I’d be convinced to knock it down 10, 20, even 50 spots. Justifying Infinite Undiscovery’s appeal is not a hill I’m about to die on, or even suffer mild irritation for.

After all, it’s riddled with cliches and frustrating design. There’s no hotkey for the map, which I was constantly checking. What is the point of adding a button press to unsheathe my sword? Why are my abilities so easily interrupted by enemies? Why are the facial animations so outdated? The big areas lend themselves well to exploration, but even that wears thin quickly.

I’m beginning to talk myself out of even putting Infinite Undiscovery on the 500, so I’ll wrap up the negatives with this: it’s a mediocre JRPG filled with bad writing, boring fetch quests and a cumbersome menu design.

However.

It also has a pretty good story, it doesn’t waste your time and the battles are oh-so close to being amazing.

None of this “hours to get going” hogwash here. Within fifteen minutes, you know who you are, you’re introduced to the rebel faction, and you’re fighting enemies. In a Japanese RPG, that’s light speed in terms of pacing. I completed the entire campaign in 23 hours, which means the developers deserve some kind of medal for keeping this experience as short as possible…by JRPG standards, naturally.

Infinite Undiscovery (2)
You’ll have a LOT of party members to manage

The world is interesting. Baddies have chained the planet to the moon. Where the chains are embedded, destruction follows; animals die, plants wither, people suffer, etc. Your job is to go through the world and free the world of it’s lunar influence. The image of a giant chain snaking through the sky endlessly towards the moon is a sight to behold. We already have preconceived notions of the moon influencing our planet. It’s a source of great wonder in all forms of entertainment, from books, to poetry, to mythology to video games. What happens when you sever them?

I wanted to find out. I did! Despite the annoying children characters, the pointless cut scenes, the odd “connect” functionality with your teammates, the lack of bravado from the main character, or the lackluster villains. I was motivated to keep going.

Infinite Undiscovery (3)
Reason for motivation: Exhibit A

And it all comes back to the battle system. It was (almost) a dream. No loading screens. Real time combat. Friendly AI partners that engage enemies properly, heal people when ordered and scatter when necessary. Frantic, chaotic action. Particle effects everywhere. Spells cast at a moments notice. A canvas of moving color. Complete, beautiful anarchy.

They came SO close. Technical hiccups mean that the frame rate would drop often and you’re responsible for a few too many allies (18 by the end). But when you fully equip your mini army, break off into three different units and see them in the distance fighting enemies with everything they’ve got on them, it’s truly incredible.

This doesn’t happen very frequently and most of the time you’ll be fighting the camera and the stuttering hardware, but I applauded Infinite Undiscovery for trying. Since I only controlled the main character, I was able to focus on myself and issuing commands as best I could. I could never keep track of all the attacks flying left and right, but I didn’t want to. This is likely how a band of 18 magicians, musicians, warlocks and soldiers would fight. Why would we leave 14 members behind when we can ALL come beat up some lizards in a forest?

There are much better JRPGs, and many better examples of fighting in a giant group. Final Fantasy 15 puts the real time combat here to shame. Ogre Battle 64 and Suikoden 2 handles multi party management in a much more manageable way. But I enjoyed my brief time here enough to put it at 395 and call it a day.

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