Posted 3 years ago By - Jeff Wimbush
I’ve been craving some galaxy cruising action. I haven’t played a decent space exploration game since Star Fleet Academy for SNES. Despite being released a year ago in Japan, Infinite Space is packed with enough space age RPG gameplay to satisfy any sci-fi fiend.
Infinite Space follows the story of Yuri, an adolescent boy with a dream to escape the gravity of his home planet and explore the “sea of stars”. Yuri soon meets a “launcher” named Nia, who makes a living taking people into space. The plot gets interesting with the appearance of Yuri’s troubled little sister, attacks from space pirates and a mysterious and valuable object, an epitaph, that Yuri’s father gave him. Yuri eventually builds his own fleet of up to five ships that can be completely customized from bow to stern.
The game is an RPG at heart and that means there’s plenty of experience building. Players gain experience by traveling from planet to planet and winning battles. Navigation is made easy with the ability to plot a course past several planets in one trip, which usually results in a random encounter. When traveling, the touch screen displays an inside the bridge view and Yuri at the helm. It’s all very Star Trek-ish and good looking.
At the start of the game, the battle system involves three basic moves and an energy meter that governs their use. Players can launch a normal attack, barrage attack or dodge. A dodge can be executed with the least amount of energy and it defends against barrages. However, a dodge makes you especially vulnerable to normal attacks. A normal attack is pretty much a guaranteed hit but not very strong. Finally, a barrage attack does triple the damage of a normal attack but requires the most energy. Later, more moves are aquired like the ability to board an enemy ship and launch a melee battle.
When an attack is launched, the player is treated to a cut scene depicting the preparations and outcome. The camera shows the outside of the ship and you can hear Yuri issuing orders to the crew. Then you watch the attack land and the enemy vessel receive damage. The whole thing takes about 10 to 20 seconds, and even longer as the fleet sizes increase, and really adds to the immersion of the game, though all of it is skippable if you get sick of it.
Players can also control their movement forward and backward in an attempt to move in and out of attacking distance as your energy charges. Some gamers might be surprised by the lack of substantial control during combat. You might expect 3D manoeuvring to come into play but that would only weaken the strategic aspect. The battle system is well done and it makes destroying fleet after fleet consistently enjoyable.
However, I found some balancing issues with the enemy difficulty. As an RPG, some experience grinding is expected but I found battles were often either way too easy or impossible. This forces you to focus on easy enemies first until you’ve built up your stats enough. Luckily, when you do find an equally matched enemy, it makes for some tense combat.
The amount of customization in this game is great and because of that it can be a little overwhelming at first. You can modify your ship types, weapons, crew, fleet formation and more. When it comes to editing your crew, you can hire mercenaries or recruit friends, then organize their positions based on abilities. It goes beyond choosing general areas like fire control and maintenance, to specific jobs in areas like Artillery Handler or Chief Mechanic.
When customizing ships, modules can be bought and placed onboard to add abilities. Your ship has a certain amount of available space represented by a grid. Modules come in different shapes and placement and have to be carefully organised to get the most out of each ship.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics in Infinite Space are great. Some of the external ship views reminded me of scenes from Starfox 64, and the presentation of the menus and travel sequences feel like an episode of Star Trek. Dialogue, however, is presented in an anime art style with 2D characters which can take away from the atmosphere of the game. The audio is also good with mood setting sound effects like a “red alert” buzzer when you encounter an enemy. The music is great too, though it can get repetitive in the menu screens.
With the customization, experience building and hundreds of crew members and ships to obtain, there’s hours and hours of space exploration to be had in Infinite Space. Upon completion, diehards may want to start again and see what kind of fleet they can amass on a second playthrough. The game also supports local wireless multiplayer battles so you can challenge your friends.
Infinite space gives you the chance to command your own fleet of spaceships. If you are a sci-fi junkie or an RPG fan, you should check this title out. If exploring galaxies and deep space combat sounds appealing to you, the hours of gameplay in Infinite Space make it a safe buy.