INFINITY STRASH: DRAGON QUEST THE ADVENTURE OF DAI | REVIEW| PC
''LIVE OR DAI''
Genre: Action Adventure RPG
Release Date: Sept 28th, 2023
Platforms: PS5/PS4/NSW/Xbox Series XS/PC
*Review copy provided to me by SQUARE-ENIX*
Infinity Strash is the latest spinoff adventure game in the Dragon Quest franchise that is developed and published by Square-Enix. With the Dragon Quest series becoming even bigger than it's been in years with titles like Dragon Quest 11 and Dragon Quest Treasures, Square-Enix now decides to add another spinoff to its library with Infinity Strash - a game based off its anime counterpart. But was it a wise decision to focus on this particular spinoff? or should they have gone a different route? only one way to find out, so lets go!
On an isolated island in the southern seas, a boy named Dai lives among monsters, yearning to become a hero himself someday. However, everything changes when the Dark Lord is revived. With a new crisis facing the world, Dai makes a promise to his mentor, encounters new friends, and slowly learns about his own inescapable fate... This is the beginning of Dai's adventure, and his quest to become a true hero.
''ACTIVATING THE TRIFORCE''
Dragon Quest is one of those RPG franchises that constantly stands the test of time throughout the generations, alongside other juggernaut IP's like Final Fantasy, and it continues to remain integral to the industry and influential to newer experiences on the market for the RPG Genre. Through the years, Dragon Quest has managed to rack in 11 mainline games, the 12th currently in development, and a plethora of spinoffs that range from cute and fun with Dragon Quest Treasures, to oh my god, what were they thinking with the stuff that was added in Fortune Street. My point here being is that Dragon Quest has a long and diverse history, and that history, mainly of Dai, which dates back to 1991 with the manga, now continues that adaption of the anime in the brand new game, Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure Of Dai. Good lord that's such a long name, any longer and that's not going to fit on a box art or it will end up like the ''game of the year'' stickers on the cover of the batman games. Long name aside, is this game actually worth it though? with upcoming titles like Ninja Storm Connections being buried by everyone and anyone for the lackluster effort they're portraying, or will it lean more positive like the free to play My Hero game. Which side of the spectrum does it sit on?. Ehh, the kind that both annoys me and intrigues me. One minute I'm like All right! lets go, fighting time - but then for the next 20 minutes I'm stuck falling asleep in my chair and forgetting there's an actual GAME here to be played. Confused? well don't worry, Popp didn't cast a mage spell on you, you're good, I'll just have to explain why I have that slight annoyance towards the title, even though, overall, the quality is very well done.
Infinity Strash drops you into the story of the game as you see the battle rage on between the two dragon knights, Dai and Baran. Its got all the makings of the typical Shonen trope, Baran being the battle hardened foe with immeasurable power and Dai, who's got tons of courage and never give up attitude, being the weaker of the two but refusing to quit. The fight however doesn't last long, for Baran doesn't want to kill Dai, merely just get him out of his way, so he unleashes an attack that erases all of the memories Dai has accumulated over the years, and this sets up the main story of the game, which is.. uhh.. a long fetch quest to retrieve the lost memories of your past. So in a nutshell, you're overcoming and battling against amnesia, and I assume in infinity Strash 2, we'll be fighting Alzheimers next, right?. All jokes aside, yeah it's not very original, like at all, but it's an anime adaption and Shonen, so, at least its not the Curry Of Life all over again like Naruto, right? be thankful. The character that drives the story forward in this title and the main one usable at the start of the journey is Dai, who'm eventually forms alliances and friendships with characters like Popp, who Dai trained with under the guidance of their master, Avan, and Maam, who is also a former student under the same master at one point. Much like other RPG's on the market, in certain situations, such as Temple Trials for side quests or even specific main story missions, for the games combat, you will be able to select and assemble a party of your choosing, which consists to up to 4 allies. That is, when you actually get to play the dang game, considering most of the time you're watching cutscenes over playing the actual game, with some chapters having 21 playable missions and of that 21 playable missions? 14 of them ends up being 3 to 4 minute long cutscenes. While the cutscenes were great, extremely well done and acted, and definitely gets you in the mood to watch the anime, I was just left wondering, ''when am I actually going to get to play the freaking game already''. It got me to the point of trying not to harness my inner anger and go on a rampage like Fang from Primal. I kept it together though, so the world was spared.
''SPEAR TO THE BUTT INCOMING''
At its core, the game follows the basics of what everyone is used to, you get a world map that serves as its general hub for selecting mission chapters, side quests, access to play previous stages and chapters, etc. Its basic, but easily recognizable by their icons. For example, blue crossed swords means main missions that involves a physical fighting mission that ranges from a Musou style of play style that has you defeat all enemies in the area designated to you or pits you one versus one against an enemy villain of that chapter. Meanwhile, a book represents a 4 minute long cutscene that catches you up on the story taking place using a storybook and manga style of anime animation with voice overs. Finally you have red flag icons, which act as your side quests to partake in before or after a story mission that mostly involves you beating a specific amount of enemies in order to raise your level. Yeah I know, not very substantial. Heck it feels like there's more variety in gameplay in Plumber's Dont Wear Ties that involves you making decisions on whether to beat up your creep boss, have a weird montage of getting ready to go about your day, having your mom call you and nag you about getting a girlfriend at 40 years old, all in good ol FMV quality. Ok, maybe infinity Strash's variety isn't THAT bad, but still, there's not much bark to this games bite, and it leaves it feeling like a meal that's undercooked. But all is not lost, as to get away from some of the tedium of the main story being cutscene heavy, you have the Temple Of Recollection mode, which is a rogue lite dungeon that starts your characters off at level 1 and increases your level further as you make it through various rooms of bad guys by going through specific doors that give you buffs of magic, HP, or allows you to buy items to use. In a nutshell it operates as a gauntlet of matches that only increases in difficulty the further you get. It's basically like Final Fantasy 14's version of Palace Of The Dead, but here it allows you to enhance bonds for equipable stat cards for main game use and increase character spells and their abilities. I went into this mode extremely unprepared and wiped on the last floor of the first stage. Literally was running around with 5 hp like a chicken without a head. I'm so garbage.
Unlike normal RPG's with a typical equipment management system, Infinity Strash makes your gear end up basically being just a skin with no stat increase, and instead forces those RPG stat managements onto your attacks, such as the Coup De Grace Attack, which acts as your special attack when power gauge is filled, and an additional three spells and abilities to hot bar to your menu for use throughout battle - which you can upgrade using your gained money or items you come across by going to Temple Of Recollection and using your materials to raise each attack power. The same goes for your Memory Bonds as well, which when your characters in the story or objective meet specific milestones or levels, will obtain new slots to unlock in order to equip items and cards known as Bonds. These Bonds are equipable to any character as long as they meet the required level in order to use them, and every individual card offers new attributes and stats increases for HP, attack power, magic, defense, etc. This in turn feels like a very streamlined approach to traditional equipment management replacement. Good thing that the enemy isn't Doctor Vankman, otherwise he would know ALL the cards you have in your possession and zap ya for it. So card based system for bonds and equipment, special attack and three specific abilities for each character like Dai using Zapple lightning, Maam using healing abilities, Popp using powerful magic spells, all of which are upgradable, musou fighting versus hordes of enemies or one versus one fighting, side quests, and tower of recollection for other content to keep you occupied. Is that it? well kind of, I mean, other than my negatives, overall the game is very polished and well put together, sadly, there's just a bit of a hiccup period of the game, even during the height of its great moments.
''DOOR OF NO RETURN''
Oh man. Where do I start. As stated earlier, Infinity Strash is a retelling of the anime's story, and sadly to a degree, where it hurts the actual game itself overall. While the nuance of interactive gameplay segments intertwined with cutscenes sounds good on paper, in the vein of games like Ninja Storm, here, it doesn't work so well. With the cutscenes predominantly making use of static images that have dialogue over it, you feel like you should be watching the actual anime itself rather than playing a game where the cutscenes themselves completely undermine and overshadow the ACTUAL gameplay.. of you know.. a video game. The game tries to be two things at once, but ends up peeing on the floor and making a mess of its balancing. Think of Adam Sandler just putting newspaper over anything that spills and that's Infinity Strash with its gameplay to cutscene ratio. The first couple chapters in this roughly 7 to 8 hour journey aren't too bad, and you might even find enjoyment in it, but soon as you hit Chapter 3 and beyond? you can get like 4 storybook cutscenes in a row, and in total of a 21 level chapter, you can have potentially 14 of those being cutscenes. No matter how you slice it, Britney Spears, that is NOT a good balance at all. Its definitely a head scratcher, and midway into Chapter 5 I just wanted to literally skip everything just to get to the gameplay segments to have more fun, but then those gameplay missions themselves lasted like two minutes, before another 10 min of cutscenes. It's like I'm in Red Dragon and Square-Enix is like THIS IS ADVENTURE OF DAI, DO YOU SEE?. If you know, then you know.
''HOW I FEEL SHIELDING OPINIONS FROM FANBOYS''
At the end of the day Infinity Strash IS NOT a bad game, it's actually very well made, smooth, looks great, voice acting is good and it genuinely wants to make you watch the anime itself. However, with lack of variety in its combat from main story to side missions, balancing with cutscene to gameplay segments being way off, I feel completely hurts this title overall and what it was attempting to do. Even though changing difficulty level to Adventurer for raising difficulty of boss fights, it still can't make up for its short comings, especially when it feels like 4 of the games 7 hours of gameplay is the cutscenes themselves. Square-Enix here tried to take us on a ride with an ambitious journey by mixing anime narrative and super gluing it in with a video game format, but it ultimately falls short in its overall execution, even when it delivers moment to moment fun and enjoyment, and because of this, at it's current $60 price tag, I cannot recommend this title at a full retail price. It's best to wait for a bit, maybe for a price tag of around.... THREE FIDDY. Huh, no no, the price I feel would be worth it is around $25 to $30 for what this game offers, I feel that is fair. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says WAIT.