Square Enix has released Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai, a thrilling game spin-off now available on all platforms starting September 28, 2023.
The hero’s journey
The story starts with a crucial event from the 25th episode of the anime: Dai’s memories are wiped out by the Dragon Knight Baran. From this moment, the plot takes us back to the start of the series, where we meet the main protagonist and his allies for the first time.
It has been many years now since The Hero restored peace to the land… In a world tormented by the forces of evil, a swordsman and his companions set out to defeat Hadlar, the Dark Lord. On an isolated island in the southern seas, a boy named Dai lives among monsters, yearning to become a hero himself someday. Everything changes when the Dark Lord is revived. With a new crisis facing the world, Dai makes a promise to his mentor, encounters new friends, and slowly learns about his own inescapable fate…
This is the beginning of Dai’s adventure and his quest to become a true hero!
The game Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai is based on the first 41 episodes of the anime. The game’s primary focus is the story, which has been beautifully re-rendered for significant plot points. Minor points have been presented in a condensed format, reusing scenes from the anime with a voiceover.
Gameplay with a Zapple, Crackle and Strash!
When analysing the core gameplay loop of Infinity Strash, it’s a mixed bag. There are two main elements that require your attention, but they conflict with each other. On one hand, there’s the retelling of The Adventure of Dai, and on the other hand, there’s the rogue-like gameplay of The Temple of Recollection.
The game’s story consists of seven chapters, which you’ll work through in a linear fashion. There’s no real exploration outside the playable levels, so you’ll jump from one story beat to another, and in some cases, these are back-to-back story segments.
After entering a playable section, you will navigate your party members through explorable areas filled with monsters and bosses. The action combat is the game’s true highlight.
There’s a mix of monotonous button mashing, especially when dealing with weaker enemies like Slimes. When you start taking on more brutal monsters or against bosses, you must put more effort into beating them. At first, you’ll have this overwhelming feeling that the encounters are too difficult or that they’re getting in cheap shots.
While the combat isn’t especially deep, it’s flashy and customisable. You’ve got access to a basic attack, dodge, block, three abilities you can choose from and a coup de grâce – a decisive finishing move. It’s when you’re able to utilise these together that your actions pay off.
Initially, I found dodging and parrying (or blocking) under-tuned. Once I started to understand attack patterns and timings, it became so satisfying – gaining that advantage I needed when fighting bosses on harder difficulties.
As you’re inflicting and taking damage, you’ll slowly build up your coup de grâce meter. There are three stages to this; knowing when to unleash your ultimate on an enemy is critical – each segment inflicting more damage. As with all abilities through the game, you’ll unlock more of these as the story progresses, with one linked to The Temple of Recollection.
The Temple of Recollection: A Rogue-like experience
The underpinning theme here is unlocking your memories taken from you. You’ll unlock these periodically by completing story missions; the vast majority of these will come through fighting your way through the floors of the Temple of Recollection.
Memories are snapshots throughout the series and contain artwork from the original manga. These have different stats and passive abilities associated with them. Obtaining duplicates offers no downside, as these further upgrade themselves if already equipped.
When you first delve into the temple, all your characters are level 1, but the stats they’ve gained from equipped memories are active. If you die on your delve, you have to start from scratch and begin again at level 1, and you’ll lose any memories or items you’ve unlocked during that delve.
It’s here that combat shines. You can fully utilise your whole party, jumping between your characters anytime. The experience becomes close to that of FINAL FANTASY VII: REMAKE. Each character brings something different, depending on your builds or how far you’ve progressed through the game. You might be bringing duplicate skills into the mix.
Despite its reception, it’s beautifully accurate to its source material and a joy
I’ve played Infinity Strash for about 20 hours now. I completed the main story in 10 hours, and the remaining 10 hours were spent playing the Temple of Recollection and challenge mode. I’m really enjoying the game, and I think my fondness for The Adventure of Dai anime series and manga might have influenced my enjoyment.
I’ve played the game on both PC through STEAM and on my Steam Deck, and it’s run flawlessly on both platforms. It’s interesting to note that this release is based on a relatively unknown series, especially in the UK, where it’s only available to watch on BBC iPlayer. I hope that Infinity Strash will bring in a new audience to the series.
The game’s environments are beautifully rendered, and the remade cutscenes are stunning. The voice cast has also reprised their roles for this entry, making it a perfect adaptation of the source material. However, I wish they had more opportunities to explore environments outside of linear corridors like dungeons. Though there are side quests, it would have been fantastic to explore major hubs and interact with various NPCs. But I understand that the developers wanted to stay faithful to the source material, which often involves visiting a peaceful town, only to have chaos erupt and save the location.
Infinity Strash has not yet outstayed its welcome, and I wish there was more story to explore. After watching the series and knowing what happens afterward, I’m left wanting more. The developers have mentioned in interviews that there are no plans for DLC, but if the game sells well, they might consider a sequel to explore the remaining story.
Infinity Strash offers a captivating gaming experience, with 20 hours of gameplay dedicated to its main story, Temple of Recollection, and challenge mode. The game’s seamless performance on both PC and the Steam Deck is commendable. However, its association with a relatively obscure series, especially in regions like the UK, may hinder its reach. Nonetheless, the game impresses with beautifully rendered environments, faithful voice acting, and stunning cutscenes. The limited exploration opportunities beyond linear dungeons disappoint. While side quests are present, the absence of major hubs and varied NPC interactions reflects the developers’ commitment to adhering closely to the source material. Infinity Strash holds promise in introducing new audiences to its franchise.
Game code not provided by publisher