It’s no secret that I love a good JRPG. I’ve reviewed plenty right here on the site, and some of my favourites come from a little known series called Dragon Quest. It’s a series that’s been around for close to 40 years now so I hope that last sentence read as a joke. But seriously, if you haven’t picked up a Dragon Quest game and you do like JRPGs, I highly recommend them as they feature some of the most creative settings and filled deep and interesting characters. As the series has been around for so long, it’s seen its share of spin off titles, and various media projects. Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai actually fits into both of these columns as it’s a spin off title that exists outside of the ‘mainline’ Dragon Quest titles, and is also a game adaptation of the 2020 The Adventure of Dai anime series.
Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai is an action rpg with the real emphasis being on the action. Unlike the mainline entries in the Dragon Quest series, this game isn’t a large scale, narrative driven game based on you exploring a world with your adventuring party and taking part in strategic battles. It’s fast paced, it’s flashy and is largely built around combat encounters. While it still has great characters, tells an interesting story and does have RPG elements for character customisation, this is a Dragon Quest experience unlike any other I’ve played before.
This game narratively follows the events of the first 41 episodes of the Adventure of Dai anime series. It’s not what I’d call an adequate replacement for the anime series which can be the case for some other anime to video game adaptations but it does a pretty good job telling an abridged version of the key events and gets you familiar with the core cast of characters in each arc. The story is presented primarily as stills from the anime series that do have some added effects, such as film grain, flares and flashy particle effects integrated to add a little bit of extra visual flair. I would have loved if the story was presented using in-engine cutscenes all the way through, which it certainly does at some core parts of the story but these moments are few and far between. Hopefully if The Adventure of Dai manages to get a sequel game we’re able to get the story in full and delivered from beginning to end using the awesome looking in-game character models.
One surprise that I always appreciate in anime centric games is the inclusion of an English audio track. The dialogue that is overdubbed throughout the cutscenes and the story sequences is fully voiced and does include both an English and Japanese voice track. It’s also made better with the anime cast returning to voice their respective roles too. I love the added touch of an English track as when it comes to many anime titles, it’s still something that’s few and far between. Another appreciated feature relating to the cutscenes is the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward through the sequences. Some of them are quite lengthy, and I do have a couple of young children at home which can be a momentary distraction at any given time so this feature was welcome, surprising and something I hope to see more games adapt.
Many of the game’s story sequences are used to either set up or provide character context for Infinity Strash’s combat encounters. The action combat is the primary ‘gameplay’ element of this game as most of the story chapters consist of a story cutscene and a combat encounter, but some of the chapters include no gameplay at all and are used to introduce characters and story beats that will become relevant in or trigger a combat in a following chapter.
When it comes to said gameplay, Infinity Strash is first and foremost an action RPG. Combat takes place in real time, with you taking direct control of the character and you’re able to use all the skills at your disposal to try and take down the target enemies and pass the stage. Players have a basic attack, dodge manoeuvre, special moves that are mapped to the face buttons and operate on a cooldown, as well as the ability to unleash Dai’s powered up mode which buffs his skills along with an ultimate move that can be unleashed once it’s respective meter is able to be spent. The individual character load out can be customised by progressing through the game and unlocking additional skills and Bond Memory cards. This allows you to swap in or remove particular skills, change the buttons they’re mapped to as well as equip cards that provide additional passive perks to the character and power up individual stats such as health, attack damage and cooldown times. The customisation options aren’t super deep and customisable as what you may get in other games, but I still liked the ability to tweak the load out and strengths of the party members to match how I chose to utilise them and provide an element of player choice.
The second primary element to the game outside of the main questline is a mode called the Temple of Recollection. This mode sits alongside the main story and is a roguelite dungeon mode where the Keeper of Memories will task you to journey deeper into the dungeons to fight through every changing rooms filled with monsters, enhanced bosses from the main game and traps to challenge you. You’re able to bring the party members and the Bond memories you’ve unlocked so far in the main story to progressively try and get deeper and deeper into the temple. Each run starts at the first level and thanks to it being randomly generated each time you play it does help the temple feel somewhat unique, but I did find myself after some time still finding the process quite repetitive and some of the areas visually boring. I did really enjoy the risk/reward element to the gameplay here though as you are prompted with the choice of delving deeper into the temple to be able to try and obtain rarer rewards or leave and keep the loot collected so far. But choosing to push in further comes with the risk of losing all of your obtained collectables from that run if you are defeated. It’s a mode that provides some longevity to the game outside of the main story, I just wish it featured some more interesting environments to keep things visually engaging and also increased variation in the enemies and how they’re utilised in the temple’s rooms.
Infinity Strash’s real highlight comes with the game’s presentation. It looks consistently crisp and flashy on screen and replicates the look of the anime and its characters really well. The character models are quite expressive and feature a diverse range of animation and along with the overall art direction, it really brings the game to life. The action combat looks really flashy and the screen explodes with particle effects making the attacks you dish out feel pretty powerful. Dragon Quest worlds are often the highlight in many of the series’ games, and while this game doesn’t cover a large scale world like the mainline entries, the world itself here does look great and the main plot sees you visiting multiple different biomes and areas that were key parts of the anime.
Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai sits in a bit of a weird place, primarily because of the way it chooses to tell its story. It’s based on an existing anime and does cover the key plot beats of the story and the character motivations fairly well and is easy enough to follow even for newcomers. But due to its abridged nature, the anime or manga is still the go-to option if you come to like these characters and want to see everything this story has to offer. The action based nature of the game offers up a new experience for Dragon Quest players to check out, and while it won’t be for everyone, what is on offer is pretty fun and offers up elements of customisation thanks to the Bond Memory cards to have the game still feel like an RPG. Infinity Strash doesn’t provide the grand adventure many think of when you hear Dragon Quest, if you manage your expectations and judge this game based on what it is trying to do, you’ll have a pretty good time. Especially if you’re a fan of the anime and have thought about playing some of the iconic battles the series offers for yourself.
A PS5 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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