Release date: September 28, 2023
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S
Developers: KAI GRAPHICS INC., Square Enix, Game Studio Inc., KAI Graphics Co., Ltd.
Genres: Role-playing video game, Adventure game, Fighting game
Publisher: Square Enix
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
"Review Copy Provided By Square-Enix"
This isn't Dragon Quest; this is An Ode to the franchise!
In the spotlight of North American gaming, Dragon Quest might be a fairly fresh face, but let’s spill the tea: Japan has been throwing confetti for this big deal since the rad ‘80s. Nestled within its broad multimedia wings is the renowned manga series, The Adventure of Dai, which the modern globe applauded in its 2020 anime adaptation. Enter: Infinity Strash, the action RPG lovechild brought into existence as a trendy game tie-in. Dive into the gaming canvas of a Shonen Jump classic, with our boy Dai and his squad starting from scratch, hustling through escalating power foes, acquiring cool powers, and raising the stakes like poker night at a superhero's house. Yet, it’s their unbreakable friendship glue binding this adventure scrapbook, spiced with Akira Toriyama's iconic monster aesthetics waving the Dragon Quest banner.
Infinity Strash might not hit home runs in unexpected gaming innovations, but oh boy, it’s polished like grandma's silver. The game oscillates between being your average hack-and-slasher on a lazy day and rising to its apex with elements of card-collecting and team assembly that reminds one of mobile gaming days minus the blergh parts. The visuals? Crisp. The performance on PlayStation 5 and PC (particularly the Steam Deck and ROG Ally?)? Chef’s kiss. However, if you are fresh off the gaming boat, Infinity Strash isn’t your welcoming committee. It’s designed for the Dai veterans and those Dragon Quest enthusiasts with an insatiable appetite for slime-bashing. The storytelling follows the “give me the highlights” approach, using stills from the source material as a bridge between the in-game cinematic crescendos.
While its presentation might be comfortably vanilla, Infinity Strash attempts to sprinkle some gameplay uniqueness. Its identity teeters between the exuberant Musou style and the punishing rhythm of arena fighters or Soulslike games, integrating cooldown management for special moves and foundational combos. But beware, amidst the grandeur of huge VFX and animated extravaganza, dodging, blocking, and parrying become a visual challenge akin to catching a fly with chopsticks. Somewhere between style and substance, Infinity Strash occasionally trips, mirroring the struggles of its kin, like Eternights. The sometimes-awkward marriage between strict timing, recovery vulnerability, and hack-and-slash elements might make you raise an eyebrow, especially during boss fights that can turn sour without warning.
But, ah, the game has its shining moments, especially within a roguelike-flavored supplemental mode, which acts as the driving force behind a comprehensive party build customization system. Progressing in the story unlocks layers in the Temple of Recollection, your go-to for earning "Bond Memory" cards. These manga-art cards, once equipped, are your ticket to stat bonuses, and the deeper you delve into this, the more robust these cards become, smoothing your journey through the main plot. Yes, there's a grind – but it's a gentle, optional one. Each new card discovery rewards you with manga tributes, and finding duplicates means leveling up. And while you'd lose your collection upon failing a run, the absence of real money in this equation makes the stakes feel delightfully low and the grind surprisingly humane.
Infinity Strash subtly winks at its Dragon Quest lineage without mimicking the manga’s visual style outright. It's a fun romp for the series' aficionados but might leave the uninitiated feeling a tad out in the cold. If Dragon Quest is whispering sweet curiosities in your ear, consider starting your adventure elsewhere. Happy gaming!