Disgaea Infinite ReviewGreg Knoll
Initially, I worried that I wouldn't have much to say about Disgaea: Infinite.In truth, it doesn't really play like anything I've ever encountered. From a traditional standpoint, Infinite is lacking nearly all of the elements that make a game-character development, free-roam, battle systems, inventory. It is even missing that oh-so-important formula of breaking away from dialogue and allowing the player to explore his surroundings.
And though that sounds incredibly odd-because you're probably thinking the same thing I was right now-that's not to say that Infinite isn't incredibly entertaining,or worth what you would pay for it. It's just a completely new experience, and a definite shift from what Disgaea is known for.
It's labeled as an action game, it would be easier to describe it as a moving choose-your-own-adventure book with voice-overs and countless, integrated paths to walk.One of the most notable and loveable characters, Prinny, is given the spotlight in this laid back, comical adventure. The game starts out leaving you to only read dialogue as Prinny scours about the castle, meeting several other key characters-like Flonne, who's waiting fervently for her "Prism Rangers" DVD to arrive, or Etna who's as cruel and self-conscious as ever-while haphazardly stumbling on to perhaps the greatest mystery in the Disgaea universe...
Okay, not really. Laharl is actually on a quest to steal Etna's super rare limited pudding,and will let nothing stand in his way. Towards the end of the opening sequence, Laharl disappears to his chambers, laughs manically and moments later is blown out of his tower by a massive explosion. He survives, but believes it was only by chance, and immediately begins spouting conspiracy theories and assassination attempts-ultimately blaming the Prinnies and cutting their already low wages. Your Prinny (oddly) is a fighter and refuses to give up his minuscule payout, opting instead to take advantage of the powers given to him by a mysterious watch, Tick-Tock, travel back in time and solve the mystery of Lord Laharl's pudding disaster.
The story sounds somewhat simple, but it's actually incredibly intricate, with several possible culprits to Laharl's assasination-each with their own sidestories and independent quests. Seeing as Prinny couldn't possibly follow all of them, the wonderful little Tick-Tock also grants the amusing penguin the ability to possess another character in the game and at key points dictate their responses. It turns what should be a simple graphic novel into an involved interactive experience that requires deduction and focus, but ultimately leaves the decision up to the gamer. If they opt to follow one character from beginning to end the option is there, but for those who wish to experience everything Infinite has to offer it's far more rewarding.
It does require some switching and the occasion re-tread over previously seen dialogue but that never really became an issue. Infinite takes everything I know and love about the long-running series and puts it into overdrive. It makes even more jabs at pop-culture, puts a negative light on things most enjoy (like shapely women) and doesn't let up on the humor for an instant. The antagonists are overly cruel, the heroes utterly dramatic and the Prinnies lovably pathetic.
All of this is meshed together by brilliant design. The game is easy to learn and the interface is incredibly friendly. NIS built it for both fan favorites and newcomers by adding a data base, providing descriptions for nearly every character/area within the world of Disgaea-including some funny anticdotes about some of the zany items you'llfind on your adventures. I definitely appreciate that, but I must say the real gem is in the stellar animation. The cel-shading, artwork and graphics look outstanding on the PSP,drawing in the player and immersing them into the story, instead of just having them follow text.
And yes, I made the reference to a choose-your-own-adventure novel but Infinite is so much more than that. It's broader and more intricate, definitely but all the while charming and unique. It's not initially what I expected, but sometimes that can be a good thing, and it was certainly a welcome change from the run-of-the-mill games I've been playing lately. For anyone who's a fan of the series, or even someone who's looking to learn more about this wonderful series it's a must have.
Just don't try taking mine.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
May I have the strength to lead with compassion. May I have a resolve strong enough to inspire it in others. May my heart be true, my motives virtuous, my spirit valiant. And whether I fail or succeed, may I at least be brave in the attempt.
About the Author: Greg Knoll
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