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Infinite Undiscovery

Michael Ubaldi  //  September 11, 2008

Familiar, but it reaches Square Enix's standard.


eadlines favored the severance of a strategic partnership with Sony, but with its release of tri-Ace's Infinite Undiscovery exclusively to the Xbox 360, Square Enix made a first. Mind you — a notable, not momentous, one. Square's "new brand of RPG," what CEO John Yamamoto called "a significant step in the evolution of RPGs," is too familiar for invention. The game reaches the publisher's standard, however, and if Square Enix intended to serve Japanese roleplaying games as consulate to Xbox owners, Infinite Undiscovery is an acceptable overture.

Some speculation, and a little ridicule, has followed the meaning of the title. Why bother? We should assume that meaning is lost in the jump from Japanese to English, and besides, all the accessible figures of a fantasy adventure are in place. Capell, a picaresque rambler, is mistaken for an insurrectionist and thrown in the pokey. Rescued by a punchy warrior, Capell saves the girl in a turnabout and joins her well-rounded cast of allies: the lookalike hero proper, the gentle brawler, the haughty cavalier, the adenoidal strategist, and others. As the band moves to win a campaign against evil, all appearances of coincidence give way to Capell's emergence as a champion greater than the young man who would be his doppelganger or twin brother.

Rico and Rucha: snugglebugs
by any other name.
The succinct description of the modern JRPG is a series of combat and puzzle challenges in between narrative cutscenes — an interactive story that is as rewarding as it is relaxing. Infinite Undiscovery answers to this, mostly. Its characters are likeable; Rico and Rucha, two child magicians fighting at Capell's side, are adorable. The plot, even with several parts-per-million of vague mythologies understood only by tri-Ace's writing team, engages. Dialogue favors the adolescent ear. That's venial compared to some bit-part voice acting on the level of "theatre class sophomore," let alone the use of subtitles — turning some pivotal scenes into vapid, click-through transcripts — for no explicable reason but having run out of money for actors and a recording studio.

With three distinct exceptions, gameplay is sound, featuring an innovative solution to the long rosters often filled in JRPGs. Combat can be kept simple, players pushing just three buttons — two to swing, one to call on the party's healer — or it may involve a number of complex character interactions. Connection allows the player to command a party member and make targeted use of special powers; in a few spots, this is cardinal to victory, but elsewhere it counts only for finesse.

Surely, from game to game, you've lamented consigning party members to the bench. Not long after ranks total more than the party's size limit of four, Infinite Undiscovery introduces party selection, allowing the player flexible assignment of members to up to three parties. Where allowed, multiple parties will coordinate in real time. Not only is it a treat to see, say, B-Team covering your group's flank, but while in-country, the game's AI will set subordinate teams towards a destination. Players can follow and, for once, be assured of wherever the hell it is they're going.

Come again on that last benefit? Square and tri-Ace seem to have tried to make the game less straightforward. How? By requiring the player to reach certain geographical points to activate cutscenes. Through what means? Withholding precise locations, and in some cases general directions or instructions. Several of these trigger points are difficult to find, resulting in confusion and frustration that lasts as long as a player can stand before going online for answers to questions asked by dozens and dozens of others.

This is made worse by a prolix NPC dialogue system. Conversations typically don't continue until all information has been disclosed. No, after most NPCs have finished their first statement, a player must engage them a second time. Infuriatingly, these follow-up statements often trigger an event. Online hints begin with the words, "Talk to every character twice. . ."

Teamwork, literally: connect and
use powers as if they were yours.
Another fruitless effort at variety resulted in mini-quests amounting to time-wasters. Is there any value to combing the wilderness for an arbitrary number of items, or following a trail that is as poorly marked as major transitions? So help me, I couldn't find any.

Mercy or better judgment instructed tri-Ace to keep the dilatory filler to a minimum. Twenty minutes of cursing and players are back to Infinite Undiscovery's strength: color. Environments are lovingly crafted, growing more fantastical as the game progresses. Capell, a flutist, deploys music as a wizard would magic — its utility is limited, but flute-playing is a clever addition invoking the synesthesia of Walt Disney. Composer Motoi Sakaruba delivered a well-written and carefully dedicated score: mirthful, urgently anthemic, sinister, even exotic, exactly where it needs to be.

With content enough for two discs, Infinite Undiscovery provides a recess during which players can decide whether the first ten hours of play have justified several more. Do they? Yes, probably, on disparate counts: for the JRPG aficionado, out of grudging conquest; and the rest, curiosity over where tri-Ace, Square and Capell will take them.

Infinite Undiscovery





Square Enix

NA Release

September 2, 2008


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Traditional JRPG
  • Likeable characters
  • Magnificent aesthetics


  • Transitions misdirect
  • Needlessly difficult mini-quests
  • Subtitles?

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