Developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix and released in 2008, Infinite Undiscovery was one of the many untapped treasures hiding in the back of my game collection. tri-Ace is a video game development company that is based in Japan and it works exclusively on RPGs. They are most well known for their role is development of games such as games from the Star Ocean series, Resonance of Fate and Final Fantasy XIII-2. Recently I took to playing Infinite Undiscovery in hopes it would live up to the variety of RPGs I have become involved with in my lifetime. Would it live up to my high, perhaps unrealistic expectations?
From a third-person perspective, players take control of the games main protagonist, Capell. Through seamless game play and excellent story-telling, players take Capell from a run down cell in a secret prison on a journey with the members of the Liberation Force. The story centers around the 17 year old and his growth from a fearful flute player to a strong willed leader, making many friends and attempting to save the world along the way. Infinite Undiscovery takes place in a world where the populous reveres the moon, using it to grant individuals magical power, usually at birth under the light of the moon. The mandate of the Liberation Force is to severe the chains that are being placed around the world, tethering the moon to the planet. When a chain is set into the ground by the antagonists, a group calling themselves The Order of Chains, horrible monsters appear and nearby cities and kingdoms are often faced with great perils.
Infinite Undiscovery is an action-based, real-time RPG. The player primarily relies on Capells swordsmanship and some flute playing skills to defeat enemies throughout the game, but with a simple tap of a couple of controller buttons, Capell can connect to other party members to utilize their skills to perform a variety of tasks outside of battle or to subjugate their wrath on the enemy at hand. Item use during battle is a particular pain, when the menu is up the player is unable to move Capell, leaving him at the mercy of the enemy. When your party is in trouble and you require a potion, it can be a tricky maneuver. I cannot express how many times Capell has died in my care due to this annoying system. Battle is relatively simple, A for a quick attack and B for a heavy attack. There are very few combinations to explore, (A + B, A + A + B and A + A + A + B) each resulting in a special skill. As the player levels up, Capell along with other party members do gain some new battle skills. These skills are not customizable in any way, they are given out like Halloween candy at pre-determined levels. Capell’s skills are used by holding the A button or B button respectively after they are set through the menu.
Along with real-time battle, comes real-time item use/item creation/enchantment. After sheathing Capells sword (and inevitably the rest of the parties weapons) and the menu is pulled up, the party sits in a little circle awaiting the players orders. This makes the party vulnerable to attacks as time in continuously flowing. It is very important to clear the area ahead of time. Item-creation is similar to many other games, collect or purchase ingredients and create everything from food and medicine to armors, books and weapons. Each character within the game has a specialty and with practice has the ability to ‘level up’ their creation skills and acquire more recipes. There are hundreds of items in the game to create, the player may choose to create them all, or simply purchase their items through one of the many in-game merchants. Unlike item creation, enchantments can be done anytime as Capell is the character who performs the enchanting (due to his inability to use magic). Everything from increasing attack, intelligence, hit point and defense values for the party to making the party immune to sleep, poisoning, etc. I found myself neglecting the use of enchantments until very late in the game, although when I finally did begin using them, they became an invaluable part of my battle strategy.
Make sure to prepare a bowl of popcorn before beginning Infinite Undiscovery. As with many RPGs, the game is extremely story-based and the cutscenes are numerous. I was pleased to see most of the scenes are voiced over, and the game allows the player to set subtitles ‘ON’ in the options menu. I said -most- right? Bizarrely enough, after an extended cut scene the developers take a turn and stop paying the voice actors for brief periods. Leaving the player to read the tiny writing across the bottom of the screen to continue following the story. Oh, and I certainly hope you like bad kung-fu flick dubbing, because there was not even a feeble attempt at matching the voice acting to the predetermined Japanese mouth movement. Sometimes a character will be speaking for 30 seconds, while their mouth stops moving for the final 10. The voice acting itself was not something to brag about, some performances were rather lackluster and left much to be desired.
Speaking of characters, with over a dozen main and an additional five secondary members of your group – the player is left with a multitude of options for setting up their party in the local town before heading out on their adventure. There are even times when the player is asked to set multiple parties (ranging from 2 to 3) to aid in missions requiring ‘multiple aspects’ to be completed. The player only controls the primary party however, and Capell is always the party leader. As there is an upside and a downside to every choice made when developing a game, the upside to having so many choices in party members is that the player can customize their party to their liking. Rely on healers, tanks, magic-users, thieves and straight out attackers of every variety matching the players unique play style. The characters never grow stagnant as these characters are introduced over the entirety of the game. Deep into hour 20+ I was still acquiring new allies. The downside, lack of character development in many instances. Some characters are simply thrown into the mix, forced to join your group by some member of royalty, or simply coming along to seek out their own form of personal vengeance upon The Order of Chains. The player is usually offered the basics of the characters history, and the game then moves onto the next chapter.
One of the most disappointing discoveries of the game Infinite Undiscovery was the save points…or lack thereof. As the player progresses through a variety of cities, dungeons, castles, fields and caverns there are a relatively small amount of save points to use. One particular castle in which I had progressed, was filled with a variety of ‘big bosses’ one after the other. Only after dying several times and replaying 75% of the area did I make it to the ‘top’ and was finally able to save. With few save points, the player would hope to see ‘Checkpoint Reached!’ pop up on the screen every so often, but that is not the case. Save when you can and try not to die in the meantime, try and keep a good healer on hand.
Infinite Undiscovery is a must play for anyone who enjoys RPGs, or anyone who wants to simply enjoy the twists and turns the plot provides. However, the customizable parties do not really make up for the lack of skill customization or the lack or character development. (aside from Capell) On the verge of completing the game, I have noticed there are some sub quests I did not complete and chests I could not reach. I will not be playing Infinite Undiscovery a second time as the story and game play will not change based on not completing these menial tasks.