Beyond combat, Infinite Undiscovery plays pretty much like every other RPG in the history of gaming. There is no world map, but you run around from town to town grilling NPCs for information and side-quests, and looking for hidden goodies. You can use Capell’s flute, for instance, to scan for hidden items or areas. Supposedly these are “discoveries” and there are an infinite number of them, hence the title. They’re really just mundane little extras–an extra item, or a second path to an area you’ve already visited–and trust me, they are exceptionally finite in quantity. Infinite Undiscovery also boasts a woefully uninspired alchemy system, which is even more tedious than imaginable.
The true shame of Infinite Undiscovery is that the story has a lot of potential. It could have been a truly epic game—a modern myth for the contemporary gamer. A villain shackles the moon, and it’s up to the player to unfetter the barren satellite. Ah, but here’s a twist, you play not as the brilliant, beloved hero, but rather as a look-alike, forced to fight against the forces of evil involuntarily due to a case of mistaken identity. Yeah, there’s a hell of a lot of potential there. A halfway competent writer could do some amazing things. I wonder why Tri-Ace never saw fit to hire one?
Character-wise, there are only four or five people you’ll meet that are at all interesting. For the most part, everyone in the game is content to be an irritating cliche. For the most part the 18 other characters in your party play minor, forgettable roles in the story–but our effeminate protagonist, Capell, really stands out from the rest as the single most incorrigibly whiny gaming protagonist I can think of. He whines and complains almost incessantly. A protagonist you want to throttle–constantly–isn’t enough. Infinite Undiscovery also unleashes an utterly generic “hero,” archetype, an equally generic “princess/love-interest” archetype, and two of the absolute-worst child characters to ever be featured in any game. Ever.
The writing (or perhaps just the localization/translation) is pretty bad. For me, it was physically painful. You’ve got characters aware of situations they should NOT be aware of, you’ve got people exchanging information without speaking to each other (telepathy? I’d ask Alfred Bester, but I think he’s dead) and you’ve got some terrible pacing. The story could very well have been epic, but the scenes are directed and paced as such that they feel like Biff the Understudy’s very first project: exceedingly amateurish. The narrative is completely devoid of tension or suspense, the characters are uninteresting and shallow. Though the moon-chaining premise is, indeed, cool, it’s executed horridly. It’s shoddy, shameful storytelling, which is a real shame. With the amount of potential Infinite Undiscovery has, I think I might have been willing to forgive many of its faults were there a well-crafted narrative to hold my interest.
Apparently the lack of narrative cohesion was intentional on the part of the developers. Supposedly, each difficulty mode in the game allows players to see different content. Easy mode will give you the least amount of exposition, hard mode will give you the most amount of exposition. Naturally, though, you have to beat the game on easy or normal to unlock hard mode, and thus play through the game with a complete narrative. So far as bad ideas go, this one’s pretty bad. If you do manage to stomach one entire play-through with a gimped script, odds are you won’t be too motivated for another attempt–I sure wasn’t. I think the best way to see this aspect of the game for what it is is to describe it simply as unlocking extra bonus content. Sure, extras can be really cool to have in a game, and give players lots of incentive to play the game more–but players should never be forced to unlock an integral part of the game itself.
A wise teacher once told me: “Excessive verbosity obfuscates; concision elucidates.” Therefore, in the spirit of brevity, I will begin by saying, simply, that the voice-acting is severely below average, the dialog itself is atrocious, and the only saving grace Infinite Undiscovery has lies in the audio effects and music—the latter of which, while rather unmemorable, manages to fit the mood of each individual scene moderately well. The music is serviceable. The dialog is not.
The acting, when there is acting (more on that later) is bland. Mostly devoid of emotion, though certain characters stick out as being well-acted (Aya, the heroine, has a particularly competent voice actress) most are extremely bland and forgettable. Though, I should admit, some of the poor acting could be attributed to the voice actors being forced to read some very tedious and insipid dialog.