Infinite Undiscovery Review

Infinite Undiscovery feeds your need for narrative, but it's ultimately a shallow, flawed experience.

Role-playing games strike a tricky balance between gameplay and narrative that is easy to take for granted when everything goes together correctly. Infinite Undiscovery is sadly an example of how flawed design and myriad imperfections can mar an otherwise enjoyable adventure. Square Enix manages to provide the frame of a role-playing game epic that falls short on execution.

When the world is in danger, be sure to ask nearby furry creatures for assistance.
When the world is in danger, be sure to ask nearby furry creatures for assistance.

The world of Infinite Undiscovery is influenced heavily by the moon, which is home to a god who is revered as a source of magical blessing. Humans who are born under auspicious moon phases are tattooed with sigils known as Lunaglyphs, which grant power and the ability to cast spells. Everything's in disarray because a group called the Order of the Chains has shackled the moon to the earth, disrupting the normal flow of power and bringing the two heavenly bodies on a collision course. The people's only hope is Sigmund the Liberator, a man with the ability to cut the chains and restore the world to normal. Capell, the protagonist, is a cowardly musician who mysteriously is a twin to Sigmund in appearance, which gets him unwillingly wrapped up in the troubles of nations.

All of the characters are well defined, and it's easy to come to know and grow fond of them through the game's preponderance of narrative cutscenes (some silly dialogue notwithstanding). Whether it's Capell getting thoroughly browbeaten by the idealistic princess Aya, the adorable scamps Rico and Rucha chatting in excitement, or the serene priest Eugene offering some sage insight while adjusting his glasses, you're always learning something new about the characters and their motivations. You'll have close to 20 playable characters by the end, and though some are better fleshed out than others, many are likable. The narrative itself is engaging but at the same time feels a little light on depth, some of which is due to the gameworld.

Wedged between all of the storytelling mania is the gameplay, which sees you roaming the world in search of chains to smash and people to aid. One of the problems with both the world zones and many of the dungeons in the game is that you're often given very loose guidance about where to travel (such as "south"), and the areas themselves are huge and can be lengthy. Combine winding paths that have multiple nooks and crannies with a mapping system that relies on you discovering areas in very narrow swaths, and the whole thing feels less like exploring a world and more like a way to make you wander around and cut through enemies. With such huge outdoor zones, there are a surprisingly small number of towns to visit, which makes the lands that you wander through feel empty and lonely. You'll also have to retrace your steps quite a bit, which will get tiresome around the fifth time that you've had to cross the same desert.

Battle is completely real-time and action-oriented. You'll always be controlling Capell, and you have a few simple AI settings for your party members that you can cycle through using the D pad. Once you're in range, you'll target the nearest enemy--but it's not an autolock for attack purposes, so you'll have to continually move around to try to score hits on mobile foes. This is somewhat of a pain if you're trying to connect with an ability that involves a lengthy animation. Capell can execute quick attacks and strong slashes, and you can bind two special skills that will be activated when you hold down the A or B button. Attacking an enemy in succession will start a combo meter that you can build through your own hits and those of your friends. Using the connect feature, you can issue orders on the fly to a specific ally to use his or her special attacks, which is good for combo-building or solving some of the game's dungeon puzzles. The X button will play your flute, which lets you perform various tunes that will reveal hidden passages or enemies, or shield your party from harmful magic.

Use your connection abilities to assassinate harmless barrels.
Use your connection abilities to assassinate harmless barrels.

The action is fast-paced and can be quite satisfying when you're unleashing large combo strings, but there are some problems. One is the camera, which is zoomed in so close that you can't see a lot of your field of action without panning around regularly, particularly if you're hemmed into a corner. Your view is also often obscured by an orgy of sword slices and light effects from special attacks, which can trigger some graphical slowdown. You can use the Y button to call for your party members to use healing spells or items, but occasionally they'll take their own sweet time getting it done, leading to their deaths. If you take matters into your own hands and have to open the menu during battle, you have to run to a hopefully safe location because the menu doesn't pause the game while you're sorting through and trying to find your favorite restorative. Another fun twist is that if you die, you have to just lie there and hope that one of your party members is able to cast a resurrection spell or use an item at some point while your timer ticks down, otherwise it's game over. Once Capell goes down, you cannot issue orders, access the menu, or do anything else until you come back to life, no matter how many of your party members are still up and running around.

In addition to normal fights, there are a few timed events in which you'll have to complete an objective while simultaneously fighting against the clock. Frustratingly, these events can be nested in other battles that are already a good distance from a save point, and if you fail then you'll have to restart from your last save. The same is true of boss battles, an archaic bit of punishment that really saps your momentum while you painstakingly retrace your steps.

Despite all of the loopy paths and redundant dungeons, as well as the sudden-fail conditions and game-over screens that force you to slog onward and repeat content, and cutscenes that like to cascade over one another every few steps, this game is short by RPG standards. At about 20 hours, it's just not that meaty, even with multiple difficulty settings and a sprinkling of side quests and item creation to tinker with.

Visually, there's some nice architecture in the world's castles and fortresses, gleaming marble floors and statuary, and metalworking detail on gates. Outdoor, natural-type environments are a little muddy and bland. Spell details look very nice for your own abilities and those of your foes, with lots of powerful slashes, explosions, swirling shadows, and such. Character models are detailed in armor and appearance, and every so often characters will narrow their eyes and tilt their heads and there's a sense of very natural movement and expression. Much of the time, however, the characters' lips seem to move independently of the rest of their faces in a very odd way; lip-synching is also almost nonexistent. In fact, there are sometimes whole sentences of conversation that go by without the speaker moving his or her lips at all.

Could I have the 8-hit combo meal, please?
Could I have the 8-hit combo meal, please?

The voice acting holds up very well on the whole; each of the main characters has a voice that fits him or her very well, and aside from some emotionally overwrought moments, they manage to hit the proper tone for their scenes. Some of the secondary roles fall a little flat and wooden, and some of the dialogue is positively dopey. The orchestral score is mostly lovely, with rousing battle themes and background music that does its job of setting tone and otherwise not bothering you.

Infinite Undiscovery has all the trappings of a mighty adventure, but it lacks the true soul. Some of that energy is siphoned off by a largely empty and repetitious world, some of it is drained by faulty scenario design, and much of it isn't allowed real depth because of the relatively short length. It's easy to grow fond of the characters and become involved in their plight, but the narrative is only one part of the whole.

The action is fast-paced and can be quite satisfying when you're unleashing large combo strings, but there are some problems. One is the camera, which is zoomed in so far that you can't see a lot of your field of action without panning around regularly, particularly if you're hemmed into a corner. Your view is also often obscured by an orgy of sword slices and light effects from special attacks, which can additionally trigger some graphical slowdown. You can use the Y button to call for your party members to use healing spells or items, but occasionally they'll take their own sweet time getting it done, leading to their deaths. If you take matters into your own hands and have to open the menu during battle, you have to run to a hopefully safe location because the menu doesn't pause the game while you're sorting through and trying to find your favorite restorative. Another fun twist is that if you die, you have to just lie there and hope that one of your party members is able to cast a resurrection spell or use an item at some point while your timer ticks down, otherwise it's game over. Once Capell goes down, you cannot issue orders, access the menu, or do anything else until you come back to life, no matter how many of your party members are still up and running around.

In addition to normal fights, there are a few timed events in which you'll have to complete an objective while simultaneously fighting against the clock. Frustratingly, these events can be nested in other battles that are already a good distance from a save point, and if you fail then you'll have to restart from your last save. The same is true of boss battles, an archaic bit of punishment that really saps your momentum while you painstakingly retrace your steps.

Despite all of the loopy paths and redundant dungeons, as well as the sudden-fail conditions and game-over screens that force you to slog onward and repeat content, and cutscenes that like to cascade over one another every few steps, this game is short by RPG standards. At about 20 hours, it's just not that meaty, even with multiple difficulty settings and a sprinkling of side quests and item creation to tinker with.

Visually, there's some nice architecture in the world's castles and fortresses, gleaming marble floors and statuary, and metalworking detail on gates. Outdoor, natural-type environments are a little muddy and bland. Spell details look very nice for your own abilities and those of your foes, with lots of powerful slashes, explosions, swirling shadows, and such. Character models are detailed in armor and appearance, and every so often characters will narrow their eyes and tilt their heads and there's a sense of very natural movement and expression. Much of the time, however, the characters' lips seem to move independently of the rest of their faces in a very odd way; lip-synching is also almost nonexistent. In fact, there are sometimes whole sentences of conversation that go by without the speaker moving his or her lips at all.

The voice acting holds up very well on the whole; each of the main characters has a voice that fits him or her very well, and aside from some emotionally overwrought moments, they manage to hit the proper tone for their scenes. Some of the secondary roles fall a little flat and wooden, and some of the dialogue is positively dopey. The orchestral score is mostly lovely, with rousing battle themes and background music that does its job of setting tone and otherwise not bothering you.

Infinite Undiscovery has all the trappings of a mighty adventure, but it lacks the true soul. Some of that energy is siphoned off by a largely empty and repetitious world, some of it is drained by faulty scenario design, and much of it isn't allowed real depth because of the relatively short length. It's easy to grow fond of the characters and become involved in their plight, but the narrative is only one part of the whole.

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    The Good
    Detailed character models and world architecture
    Characters and their stories are engaging
    Fast-paced battles with spiffy-looking special moves
    The Bad
    Gameworld is lonely and bland
    Too much repetition
    Short and lacking in depth for an RPG
    6.5
    Fair
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    Infinite Undiscovery More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • Xbox 360
    Infinite Undiscovery is a role-playing game exclusive to the Xbox 360.
    7.3
    Average Rating1666 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Tri-Ace
    Published by:
    Square Enix
    Genre(s):
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Mild Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence