Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai is just one of the many Dragon Quest titles that players can get their hands on this year. Based on the 1989 manga, this adaptation of Dai's adventure isn't an RPG, but instead an action game letting you play out fast-paced anime fights from the story.
Infinity Strash starts players in the middle of the story with a combat tutorial. Fighting against the Dragon Knight Baran you're given a quick tutorial on combat before Baran unleashes a powerful ability shattering Dai's memories.
From here we return to the beginning of Dai's adventure, as a boy living on the island of Dermline with the monsters who raised him.
It's a really neat use of a major point in the story, Dai losing his memories, to be able to let players experience a fight with Dai's full strength and then reset him to the start of his adventure.
As you progress through the story you'll visit different stages. Some will be slideshow cutscenes of story events, a fight against a large enemy, or an exploration stage where you can fight more generic enemies.
Fight, Dai, Repeat
Combat in Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai is a third-person action game. For the story, you'll mostly be playing as Dai, but also have access to party members like Popp and Maam for relevant fights.
When in a battle stage it will be your party against an opponent. Each character has their standard light attacks, with a well times button press turning the final light attack into a heavy attack.
On top of this characters will have three special attacks available to them that work on a cooldown. For Dai it's different elemental slashes, Maam has healing abilities, and Popp has different kinds of spells.
A large aspect of Infinity Strash is in your timing and the balance between offense and defense. It's not possible to cancel out of your attacks once they've begun so powerful abilities with long windups can leave you a sitting duck.
You want to be actively alternating between dealing good damage while also keeping an eye out for any attacks coming your way. Attacks were regularly telegraphed by an exaggerated movement of a weapon drawn, or a danger field appearing on the floor.
There was a lot of very good thought into what compelling combat would feel like in Infinity Strash. Unfortunately with floaty sword swings, special attacks doing very little damage, and the dodge barely allowing you to clear an enemy's attack range even when doing your best you're feeling punished.
Major enemies were consistently health sponges too. Combat became a predictable pattern of two light attacks, being unable to risk a heavy attack, attempting a perfect dodge, quickly spending up all of your special attacks, and then repeat.
Another downside of combat, that could likely be attributed to the story, is just how many times Dai and his party face the exact same enemy. You end up fighting Beast King Crocodine at least 4 times in rapid succession, each time the only change being a single special attack added and far more health. It creates an experience that very quickly becomes monotonous.
This pattern of repeated bosses continues for almost all of the major antagonists of Dai and his friends.
A Story That Can't Be Sped Up
I'm no stranger to Anime 3D combat games where the gameplay is a vehicle to relive the story. I've enjoyed games like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm and Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi. With Infinity Strash the story isn't text boxes to move through, but instead video cutscenes that you can skip forward and backward through.
How far you're able to skip in the cutscene seems to be completely random. Early cutscenes might be 30 seconds long, but you can only skip to the 15-second mark or the very end. You were forced to watch the drawn-out cutscenes or miss important plot with no way to move through the content quickly without losing context.
By the time I reached the end of the game, the skipping was doing a better job of letting me skip to the next line of dialogue directly. That left me questioning why this wasn't the case throughout the entire game.
Of the 37 Volumes that the manga is comprised of this game covers the first sixteen. Players get to fight until the collapse of the Sovereign Rock Castle. At this point in the story, Dai has defeated all but a few of the antagonists, and right as it seems to be ramping up for a final arc it ends.
For a manga that concluded 27 years ago and has had its second anime adaptation end just last year, I would have much preferred to have experienced the full story, than something setting up for a sequel.
Dungeon Crawling Roguelike Action
When not participating in the main story there's the Temple of Recollection, a roguelike dungeon to work your way through. Starting at level 1 again the players can make a party of characters and venture through rooms doing battle with enemies.
Depending on the door used to enter the space a different selection of upgrades will be offered to the player as they continue deeper into this space.
The main benefit of completing the dungeon is to obtain more resources to upgrade the different abilities and buffs that you can equip to complete the main story.
I liked the idea of adding a roguelike element to an action-adventure game, and in a game where the combat did a better job of shining it could be a massive selling point for this title. Unfortunately, as the combat itself doesn't feel very good to participate in the offering of more combat wasn't very alluring.
Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai Review | Final Thoughts
The genre of anime fighting games is normally one that gets the brunt of the joke. That being said in recent years series such as Dragon Ball Xenoverse or Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm have done a good job raising the bar.
Infinity Strash however feels like a step back. It's half of a story, told between unwieldy cutscenes and heavily repeated in-battle dialogue, and combat that feels like you're being punished by playing, and not just punished for not dodging.
Some further refinement in combat could have done a lot to help this adventure, but still, this game is not likely to impress fans of the franchise or draw in new ones.
Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with a code provided by the publisher over the course of 8 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Unique Roguelike Mechanics
- Repetitive Combat
- Incomplete Storytelling