Infinite Space is easily one of the biggest Nintendo DS games ever released (from a game length perspective)…but is it a good game? Read on to find out.
You begin the game as Yuri, a young lad who wishes to leave his home planet and travel the stars. In his possession is the mysterious Epitaph, a device which is prophesized as granting absolute power to someone who has mastered the device. Very shortly after the game starts, Yuri is granted his wish to travel the stars, however his travels across the heavens become increasingly dangerous. Shadowy governments, power-hungry military officers, loot-thirsty space pirates, and the true purpose of the Epitaph all cross paths with him. Infinite Space’s story isn’t super engaging, but it is interesting enough to make you want to know what happens next.
As interesting as the story eventually becomes, Infinite Space’s narrative isn’t where it really shines. No, where Infinite Space goes from being decent to awesome is when you incorporate the customization possibilities. Although you only start with one ship, you will eventually lead an entire fleet into battle. Not only can you choose exactly which ships you wish to use, you can modify them using a huge number of modules such as living quarters, firing rooms, sick bays, cargo holds, etc. Each of these modules changes the stats of the particular ship you put them in; in addition to the various ship and weaponry modules, there is also an unprecidented number of crew members you can hire for your team. Each one of these crew members (which either join you or you hire throughout the game) have their own specialties, so where you assign them in your crew dramatically changes how they effect your ships.
While all of this customization is awesome, the user interface leaves quite a lot to be desired at first. It took me a solid hour before I felt comfortable navigating through all of Infinite Space’s user interface. Now that I know it well, it’s actually rather intuitively designed…it’s just that trying to get comfortable with it is on par with trying out a new MMO. There are a few changes that I would have made (most notably utilizing the two screens of the DS better), but once you get the hang of it you can fly through the various menus and options.
Although the battle system seems weird at first, it is deceptively simple, utilizing a rock-paper-scissors approach. There is a built-in tutorial that gives you the basics of the battle system, but even though this tutorial is easy to follow, when it is over you will feel like you’ve only been told half of what you need to know.
The hand-drawn characters look great during conversations, and the visual variety amongst them keeps the ever-expanding cast easy to keep track of. Depending on who is talking, the script ranges from cringe-worthy to pretty good. There are a couple of personalities that are truly hilarious, and more than a few who were easy to hate. I’m glad to see that, in a game seemingly designed for the Japanese market, the main character Yuri isn’t some whiny spiky-haired guy…he’s a young kid with a thirst for adventure and a newly-appointed Captain who throws himselves to the wolves on more than one occasion.
The graphics during battle are good enough for a game of this type, although the sound design is mostly horrible. It sounds like the gain was turned up WAY to high on the recording equipment, as most of the sound effects are distorted and filled with static. It’s a shame that a game with such a large scope has such lacking sound design. I’d venture to say that many of the sound effects are actually painful to the ears. The music, on the other hand, is quite good, if not a bit underused.
Infinite Space stands out as a very unique game on any platform. It’s hard to place it in any single genre, as it contains elements of Adventure, modern turn-based JRPGs, and even some very minor elements from the Puzzle genre. This is not a game for everyone, as it requires a lot of patience before you can get to the really good stuff. Stick with it though, as the payoff is quite worth it.