Infinite Undiscovery

Infinite Undiscovery

Developer: tri-Ace
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: September 2, 2008

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Opposite Day in a Box

Itís a story as old as time: a power-crazed madman with delusions of godhood decides to wrap enormous chains around the moon, tethering it in place and draining it of its mystic essence. Only a stalwart resistance movement can save the planet from the resultant monster attacks and natural disasters.

"Itís a story as old as time: a power-crazed madman with delusions of godhood decides to wrap enormous chains around the moon, tethering it in place and draining it of its mystic essence."

Unlike most games in the tethered-moon subgenre, the obvious hero isnít the protagonist. Instead of following the adventures of bold Sigmund the Liberator, Infinite Undiscovery chronicles the struggle of a young bard named Capell, who unfortunately resembles Sigmund down to the smallest physical detail. Nevertheless, Capell is the one to attract the gameís eighteen playable characters, not Sigmund.

Tri-Ace must have a plan for explaining this mystery. The small development company, best known for the Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean series, is no stranger to innovation. Still, Infinite Undiscovery shares at least one notable feature with Tri-Aceís earlier works. As in Valkyrie Profile, the game features three difficulty modes. The gameís full content is only available on the highest difficulty level.

The bulk of Capellís travels take place in a free-roaming field where enemies can be seen, heard, and avoided. Everything happens in real time. Get too close though, and the game seamlessly transitions into battle.

Infinite Undiscoveryís battle system builds directly on its real time framework. The player controls Capell while the AI handles up to three other party members. They fight and heal on their own schedules, although healing can also be triggered with the push of a button.

Capell has two standard attacks, each linked to its own button. He unlocks further options through the Connect Ability system. This mechanic links Capell to one party member at a time, providing access to two of the second characterís special abilities. Each of these attacks also receives its own button. The two characters can then chain their attacks together into massive, multi-hit combos.

Infinite Undiscoveryís name springs from the most touted aspect of its combats: Situational Battles. In these scenes the characters must contend with environmental effects and other complications while fighting monsters as usual. In one situational battle, Capell is chased by enemy soldiers while carrying a wounded ally Ė through the middle of a town being attacked by a dragon! In others, he must contend with earthquakes, tidal waves, and falling rocks. The choices that the player makes during these scenes influence later events, suggesting multiple endings and character paths. The possible discoveries are both (supposedly) infinite and unknown.

Not all of the action takes place in fiery convocations, however. Much of Infinite Undiscoveryís story takes place under the cover of darkness. Daylight gives way to night every ten minutes, followed by a similar return to day. Itís during the wee hours of darkness when stealth-based scenarios shine like a knife in the tainted moonlight.

Enemies follow different patterns at night, and their range of vision is decreased. With such blessings, players need only worry about masking the sound and smell of their approach. Players will have to trust the game to handle scent-based data; no scratch-and-sniff cards will be provided with purchase unlike with Earthbound, the last RPG to explore the link between gamers and smell.

Square Enix promised a simultaneous, worldwide release for Infinite Undiscovery. The reality is that North American gamers will be receiving the game slightly ahead of the rest of the world. The September 2 release date will be followed by a September 5 release in Europe before finally hitting Japan on September 11.

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