Star Ocean Universe

Infinite Undiscovery Review


Infinite Undiscovery tells the story of a sinister force who has managed to ensnare the moon with chains and managed to fasten it to the surface of the world. This is causing dire reproductions for the land, creating natural disasters and putting the life of man at great risk. This force behind this is known as the Order of Chains, and is lead by the Dreadknight, Leonid and his menacing horde. You play as a young man by the name of Capell, a competent flute player, but also shy who tries to avoid conflict whenever possible. However he unfortunately has been mistaken for the Liberator, and has been thrown in a prison of the Order of Chains, this is where the story begins.

Who is the Liberator? Why have the order of chains mistaken him for Capell? What are the true intentions of the Order of Chains? These and many other questions will be answered during your journey.

Proceedings begin with Capellís third day of imprisonment, where a young lady by the name of Aya rescues Capell, believing that she had rescued her leader, Sigmund the Liberator. Despite this Aya still agrees to help Capell escape. For a good hour or so you will be on the run, fighting alone with just Aya at your side.

The battles of the game are very live and full of action, battles will take place in the very environment you are part of with a seamless transition to battles from adventuring by simply unsheathing your sword to enter battle. Due to its live nature having an awareness of your surroundings is highly important and can really turn a battle in your favor, or against you if you are unaware. Engaging into battle on most cases will occur on rather mutual terms, although if you manage to strike the enemy first, without the enemy knowing of your presence you will go into a Player Advantage situation. This will give you some battle bonuses, including infinite AP, a high critical attack rate for a period of time and higher chance of having the enemy drop items once defeated. However if you are attacked while been unaware of enemies presence you will enter a Player Disadvantage phase. Here your AP will drop to zero and you will be highly susceptible to critical attacks for a short period of time, the music will also turn into a more dramatic fashion emphasizing the danger you are in. Itís particularly favorable to move carefully when you are low on party members, particularly in times of darkness where you can really use the lack of light to your advantage.

In fact, the game is completely live, even if you are searching through your menuís, changing equipment, talking to your allies, creating items or checking your map you will do so while the action is still happening around you. Ensure the immediate area around you is enemy free when you wish to check your menus in a battle environment; otherwise youíll put yourself at a high risk of falling into a Player Disadvantage or been attacked while you are sitting on the ground.

When in battle you will control Capell at all times, here you are typically able to perform quick attacks, power attacks and/or special attacks. More often then not you would start battle with Quick attacks, while low in power they can be chained together with power, and/or special attacks. This can allow you to hit the enemy with high attack combos, which can reward you with additional AP and other bonuses such as additional experience and HP/MP recovery, and most importantly an advantage in battle. You are also able to parry an enemy attack should your timing be spot on, which will paralyze your opponent for a brief moment giving you the perfect opportunity to counter attack with a powerful attack combo.

Now I mentioned AP a little earlier, itís a small gauge to the right of screen which can build up as you battle. On this gauge the enemy you are targeting may appear on it, if so this means that you can inflict additional damage to them if your AP exceeds their weight. Here you can either launch them into the air with Crescendo Spike, or smash them to the ground with Diminuendo Dive. During this time you can get in additional hits while the opponent is in mid air or lying on he ground. Youíll find your AP gauge refills fairly quickly just via a few battles, so unless the battle you are in is very easy go ahead and use it often to help make the fight a little easier.

Now, you may be thinking, so I use Capell all the time, where is the flexibility in that? While you do indeed control him all the time you are able to employ a number of other variables with your party members to assist you throughout the game. The game features well over a dozen playable characters giving you a plethora of options for characters you wish to assist you in battle. Although oddly a few of the characters that will join are secondary only; meaning they cannot participate in your main group, which is quite annoying. They are at least available to assist while you are in group battle situations, and can also be used via the Connect ability, which Iíll touch on more later. In some dungeons you can split the party into three groups, and have up to 11 allies fighting with you at any one time, this is when secondary characters can come into play. In these situations if you really wanted to you could just stand there and watch your allies do the dirty work for you, they will even help you perform some of your tasks in dungeons making life easier for you, but of course not all of them. Otherwise there would be nothing for you to do would there!

Your allies are quite competent at thinking for themselves too, and even use restorative items to help keep you alive, or even revive you if you fall in battle Ė this does however mean youíll need to keep stocked up on items if you want this support, which can cost you a bit of Fol. (Yep, just like Star Ocean the currency here if Fol too!). You can also have your allies perform other actions in battle, such as requesting your allies to heal you or fellow comrades, although this can be tedious if you try them in tough battles, youíll have to ensure you have a character able to perform healing magic (to help save item consumption) and youíll also have to allow them room to back away to heal, if they get chased or attacked during the request it will not work. You have to be smart using the heal requests or they can backfire, sometimes itís best to go on an all out assault to defeat the enemies in your immediate area and perform healing after the battle is over.

Additionally you can set tactics based on how you would like your allies to act. You can have them focus on one enemy at a time, spread out, conserve MP, do whatever they please or even just stand back if you wish. Sadly though, despite the many options there is none for them to stop using items, youíll find they tend to get a bit trigger happy with standard healing items, to the point where I donít even buy them to save Fol and just restore allies that get KOíd if they do, or heal when the battle is over by request.

Now back to the Connect option, in both towns and battles. In towns this is actually not too different from a Private Action system from Star Ocean titles, you can have your allies talk to anyone in the town instead of Capell, which can at times yield more information and better results then Capell alone can, some may generate more items, while some just for a laugh and another means to learning a bit more about your allies. Whilst in battle you can request your characters to use any of their battle skills for you. One of which, Ayaís Revenging Raptor for example you can control completely. Itís an ability where you control Ayaís bow and can shoot enemies from afar, shoot fruit out of trees, have her make the first shot before a battle starts or other tasks as required. You can even see some misfired shots stuck in walls and trees at times for added realism! Sound usage and management of your allies can really turn conditions to your favor swiftly. You will feel as though you really are part of a team in Infinite Undiscovery and not entirely reliant on your own actions for once, this gives you the player a far more realistic and refreshing feel to the game.

After each battle ends Capell and your allies will be awarded with experience points and Fol. The enemies may also drop items or materials which can simply be picked up by walking by them. Thankfully experience points will be distributed to all your characters, in the active battle party or not. Considering you can have only 3 allies in some situations and secondary ones not always available itís extremely handy, it helps you stay prepared for when the group situations arrive. While itís a fairly standard level up system itís highly efficient and suitable for the game.

Also worth noting, as always with RPGs treasure chests are scattered throughout the land, nothing new there I know. Some of which will be locked and unable to be opened by Capell. In Infinite Undiscovery, unlike many other RPGs is you have the option to smash open a locked chest if you so choose to do so. This however puts the item in the chest at risk of breaking, if you are impatient and donít think youíll ever return to one then smash it open! Otherwise just wait until you get certain characters which can unlock them for you via the connect menu to do so safely, the choice is yours.

One thing that Star Ocean fans will no doubt understand is Item Creation, itís in fact not too different from the Second Story style actually. Here you can create items, food, weapons etc depending on the characters you have in your party. But not only that there is now an Enchant menu; here you can allow an item to give you a temporary status bonus, some can last from 5 to 20 minutes, perfect for a pending tough battle. Although, just like with Item Creation systems in the past they still have the frustrating element of luck about them. Sure some characters are better with some items then others; but it may take several attempts to make what you want, which can waste your precious materials, you might want to save your game before trying to make something special. You can perform this either via a connect menu safely in towns, or with your allies during battle situations, but of course if you are going to try item creation in a battle environment make sure itís somewhere safe. Thankfully though, if Item Creation sounds overwhelming the story itself is barely dependent on it, youíll only need to use this once to complete the actual story, and it will be pretty bleeding obvious when itís required. Otherwise itís optional to make battles a little easier. It would help to at least some somewhat familiar with the Enchant side of things, having a status bonus for a pending tough battle can sometimes give you just that little bit extra you will need to win, but of course, you could just as easily grind out some level ups too.

Other aspects of the game do share some Star Ocean traits too, like with Till the End of Time the maps of the game will fill as you progress, allowing you to know where you have been before. This is extremely handy when you get lost in a dungeon; just take a moment to check your map and youíll quickly figure out where you have not yet searched. Other fascinating element I noticed during the game at times is how hostile the enemies are, they arenít all on the same team! Sometimes enemy airborne units will fly down and attack grounded enemy units and they will be in a battle to the death. You can sit back and watch your enemies tear each other apart if you really wanted to. Some of the environments you are a part of will have additional interactive elements attached to them as well, such as been able to smash mine carts into a group of enemies, trying to overcome rock falls or navigate through a sandstorm. Just little things like this give a more realistic and interactive feel to the game.

Breakdown:

Story: The story starts rather slowly and takes a little while to draw you in, but be patient and get through the first few hours and things will improve. By the end of the story I found myself hooked, watching Capell develop as a character, learning around the Chains, Lunaglyphís and more keeps you very interested in what will happen next. It will make you sad at times, laugh and be eager to learn what happens next. Overall itís a rather enjoyable story, sure there is essentially a save the world plot to the game, but as are most RPGs. Infinite Undiscovery tough gets there in a unique way, ensnaring the moon is something quite different thatís for sure. I wouldnít say itís the best story Iíve seen, but itís still a great experience, it will only set you back around 30 hours too, if that. So you donít need to lock yourself up for weeks to knock it over like some other RPGs. 8/10

Gameplay: The seamless transition between adventuring and fighting is superb, this also means your ability to avoid fights if you are not in the mood is excellent, which can be useful considering some areas are quite large. The battle system structure while rather simple to the core is done extremely well, and with decent AI to boot. The game will teach you of any new elements added as you progress, be sure to read them so you are not left in the dark Ė although they are all available to be re-read as you wish at any time. The interactivity of the gameplay and various actions you can perform make it a real joy to play. Although, been able to control Capell only may be frustrating at times. While one player works well in the likes of Crisis Core FFVII for an example it doesnít quite have the same level of enjoyment been just one character. Although thankfully Infinite Undiscovery does make up for it really well with the various actions you can perform via your allies. Overall it offers a solid gameplay and battle system that acts seamlessly and realistically, but feels like it lacks that little something to make it astonishing. 8/10

Graphics: The graphics and detail of the environments you will adventure are excellent. Crossing some of the areas, watching enemies flying around in the sky and the landscapes look beautiful. The character detail is also very good, and even this also tends to seamlessly move into key story scenes as well with great quality. You donít get the feel of cutting in and out of movies back to inferior graphics here, although this also means the ability for the game to blow you away with the occasionally brilliant detail is missing. Overall itís very good, although that is to be expected with Xbox 360, take the time to enjoy some of the nice viewpoints of the game too. 8.5/10

Music/Sound: By default, the game actually has the background music rather low, which is a terrible shame because the soundtrack is quite good. Get into the menuís and turn the background music up a bit, player disadvantage and pinnacle points of the game in terms of story and battles have great music along side them. The regular battle music will start to wear you down by the end though, considering the nature of the game you will be in and out of battles often in most areas, even if you choose to fight or not. Still, itís another good quality soundtrack fitting for a tri-Ace title. Although the very first dungeon has this funny flicking noise during it, I thought it was a bug when I played it actually, but it only happened there (and one other area late in the game), just get through the first area and donít let it wear you down. Other sounds effects and voiceovers of the game are decent enough though, just at times the voiceovers feel a bit overdone, but then again, itís like that in many action RPGís where characters quote their special attacks. The soundtrack itself again quite good as youíd expect with Motoi Sakuraba, the effects around it though could have done with some improvement though. 7.5/10

Replay Factor: Been a new style of RPG, the concept may take a little while to have the story and the elements of the game to sink in, but I think this just makes a replay more worthwhile. Playing it again will really allow you to appreciate the smaller things it has to offer. The game will also offer harder difficulties if you can finish it the first time to keep the challenge up, and also a Clear file option to tackle even greater challenges beyond the main game. There is more then enough reason to keep going after you finish the story if you enjoyed it the first time around. 7.5/10

Final Thoughts: I believe this game has been unfairly bashed, perhaps fans are expecting too much from tri-Ace and the new age of consoles. I believe itís also quite likely many gamers havenít given this enough of an opportunity and wrote it off far too quickly. Iíll admit first impressions are not great, you are on the run for a while, putting up with a strange flicking noise and wondering what the hell is going on and why do I need stealth in an RPG? But this all gets much better, the stealth element all but vanishes, and that noise only exists in the first dungeon. Once you find your feet, youíll learn some fascinating elements about the gameplay and the story itself. Controlling Capell only is not as much of a setback as you may believe, particularly with the abundance of options to work with your characters. Just please give it a real chance first, at least 5 hours. To be safe you could always rent this first, or take advantage of a 7 day returns policy just to be sure. I found the more you play it, the more you will appreciate it. Itís not the best RPG out there, but itís still enjoyable with a few interesting twists along the way. I believe a high 7 is a fair representation for what it has to offer.

Overall Rating: 7.9/10

Opinion by Fayt.