Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure Of Dai

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: Sept. 28, 2023


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PS5 Review - 'Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest - The Adventure of Dai'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 27, 2023 @ 4:00 a.m. PDT

Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure Of Dai allows players to live through the story of the exhilarating anime series, The Adventure of Dai, first-hand in an action role-playing game that combines stunning visuals with art from the anime and manga.

Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest - The Adventure of Dai is a spin-off of the ever-popular Dragon Quest series that began as a manga before becoming an anime multiple times over. It follows the adventures of a young boy named Dai, who was raised on an island of friendly monsters and dreams of being a Hero. The dream seems destined to come true when Avon, the great hero who defeated the Dark Lord, comes to the island to train Dai. The training is interrupted by the resurrected Dark Lord, who is now working for an even more evil Dark King. Avon is slain, and Dai must set out, aided by Avon's other pupils, to save the world.

Infinity Strash is basically a CliffsNotes version of the adventure of Dai and his pals. I haven't seen the anime, but the clips make it looks like a rather charming adventure tale. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad (except when they turn good), heroism and courage win the day, and it's easy to see why it would be a popular show for kids. The game isn't the best way to experience it, since you're only getting the highlights, which can occasionally make some plot beats feel random, but I'm sure fans of the show will find it to be pleasant. (For the record, the "Strash" in the title is based on Avon's signature technique, a portmanteau of "slash" and "smash.")

It means that Infinity Strash isn't great if you're looking for a self-contained RPG-style story. It's an anime tie-in game that's designed to allow fans of the franchise to play as their favorite heroes and fight their favorite villains. The framing device — Dai is trying to recover his memories after a dramatic hit in a fight — is the thinnest excuse for why you're going back over the story in the first place. For what it's worth, the game did a good job of getting me interested in the storyline, so I can see it begin a good introduction to the franchise if you don't have the time to sit down and watch dozens of episodes of anime.

The game is structured into chapters, and each chapter is divided up into story sequences and combat sequences. There are also a few optional areas that you can visit to level up or collect new items. Story sequences are self-contained story beats that review the context of your next fight. Fight sequences tend to combine both. You have a party of multiple heroes, but you'll often be relegated to certain characters (usually Dai) for specific fights.

Fights are straightforward. You have an attack button that can chain combos together. Pause mid-combo, and you can do a slightly stronger attack. Heroes can also evade and block, with the obligatory perfect dodge/guard mechanics in place. Aside from that, you have three ability slots to equip different character skills. These are traditional special attacks, like powerful sword slashes and magic spells, and they mostly function on a cooldown system. Each character also has a customizable coup de grace attack, which is a cinematic special move that gets more powerful the longer you let it charge. You can swap between characters at will, and the other characters are controlled by AI.

One nice feature of Infinity Strash is that each character plays differently and has distinct gameplay mechanics. Dai, the protagonist, uses a combination of sword attacks and spells, and he can activate his Dragon Crest for a temporary power-up. Popp the mage can use long-distance attacks and spells and can meditate to make his spells charge faster. Some characters even change abilities as the game goes on. Maam begins as a healer/spellcaster who uses a magic gun that doesn't have cooldowns but must be reloaded; eventually Maam becomes a martial artist who exchanges magic power for brutal punches. Hyunkel has an armored sword form or a high-damage spear form.

Characters can be customized in a variety of ways. You can unlock new skills and decide what you want to focus on. Maam can be an effective healer or a powerful damage dealer, Dai can focus on close-range sword slashes or deadly magic, and so on. Each character can also equip "bond memories," which represent a specific scene or line of dialogue from Dai's adventures and provide passive bonuses and buffs, ranging from simple stat boosts to randomized chances for buffs and abilities. There are a ton of these, and they can be absurdly powerful when leveled up.

Leveling skills and memories is done via the Temple of Recollection, which is a roguelite dungeon that you can explore at any time. Inside, your characters all revert to level one, and you're tasked with going through various rooms to defeat the enemies. After every fight, you're allowed to open a door that not only determines your next fight but also provides your characters with gradually building buffs. The further you get, the tougher the challenges are, but the rewards are also greater. If you fall in battle, you'll lose the items you collected. The temple becomes deeper and more dangerous as you play through the main story.

The biggest issue with Infinity Strash is that it's too basic. The combat system is fine but incredibly bare-bones; it's the sort of system that invites other, more elaborate layers. It mostly involves button-mashing, using skills on cooldown, and dodging heavily telegraphed attacks. The game tries to utilize some fun ideas, like stealth sequences or special attacks, but they don't change the game too much. New skills and abilities can make things fun but don't change the fact that you're doing the same basic things. The Temple of Recollection adds a nice gameplay loop, but you'll be fighting the same enemies with the same techniques.

The issue also runs into the simple fact that Infinity Strash is a video game adaptation of a manga/anime adaptation of a video game, and Dragon Quest is one of the most prolific franchises on the market. It's had more than its fair share of action games, and Infinity Strash falls behind something like Dragon Quest Heroes in pretty much everything but being an adaptation of the anime. This isn't uncommon for anime tie-in games, which have a primary goal of letting you play as the characters, but when the anime adapts a video game, it becomes muddled. As such, it's not necessarily a great game for Dragon Quest fans, as opposed to fans of The Adventure of Dai.

Visually, the game looks nice. The Dragon Quest art style has long since been perfected in video game form, and it carries over well, even though the environments are a touch dull. The cut scenes are largely told via still images, but there are a handful of fully animated cut scenes for important moments. It feels like there could've been a little more flair. The voice acting is quite good, including both the original Japanese and a very solid English dub. It's cheesy and feels like a Saturday morning cartoon, but so does the source material. (It is odd to hear a Dragon Quest where everyone isn't aggressively British, though.)

Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest - The Adventure of Dai is a cute game, but it's the definition of a generic anime tie-in title. It has its charms, and it doesn't play badly, but it is a very basic title that primarily exists for fans of the show. If you're a die-hard Dragon Quest fan rather than an Adventures of Dai fan, it might be better to watch the show and return to the game if you want more. Fans should have a lot of fun getting to experience the adventures of their favorites in a new form.

Score: 7.0/10

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