Infinity Strash: DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai Review: A complicated title worth forgetting
You could ask anyone, and they'd probably tell you that making a video game, based on an anime, that's based on a manga, that's based on a video game series, is a pretty tall order - let alone a complicated one.
There are a lot of factors working against the concept, and most of them are internal, growing more and more lost with each new iteration and fresh layer of interpretation. Frankly, if anyone could do it, you'd think Square Enix could crack it.
The DRAGON QUEST series has been long-standing and successful, with a fair consistency that indicates it could be up to the challenge of recapturing what fans found in the charming spin-off anime The Adventure of Dai.
It was a show packed with all of the fun baddies and ever-growing powers of an unsuspecting hero that we've come to expect of the franchise. But it looks like the magic had been cut short, as its video game counterpart leaves much to be desired.
A meagre Strash
Infinty Strash is, rather than a game in and of itself, an interactive recap of the Adventure of Dai anime series. It opens with a dramatic scrap between Dai and Dragon Knight Baran in which Dai's memories are wiped.
Though it is never addressed or brought full circle, the title then begins on a map of the anime's world, asking you to piece together his memories in order to help him become strong enough to battle him again.
From this point, we begin to see Infinity Strash for what it truly is - not an RPG game in its own right, but more an interactive encyclopedia of the show and its events. There are three types of levels on offer in the main story, the first of which being a "story mission."
This is an irritating slideshow depicting the events of an anime mission, which holds the player's hand through intermittent and patronising narrations and screenshots of the anime. From here on out, it becomes immensely clear that though there may be action here, it is to be separated by dull retellings of a story that players will already be familiar with.
Although the action of the game is able to stand tall, it can't dwarf the glaring faults in its connective parts. Leading straight into scraps with legions of goons and bosses, it's clear that plenty of time and care has gone into the development of battles, with many feeling slick and exciting, highlighted by truly stunning cel-shaded animations.
More often than not, the fights are brought to an unsatisfying close, cutting off many fights mid-way through the action in order to inject story elements that move the clunky storytelling of the game. This strips away any satisfaction that can be pulled from the best parts of Infinity Strash.
DRAGON QUEST's Least RPG RPG yet
Even as clunky and dull-by-design cutscenes reduce the 100-episode anime to a series of choppy images, it's impossible to ignore that even with the fun that the fights can offer, there isn't an awful lot going for the RPG elements of the game either.
Progression is rooted in the use of "Bond Memories," a card system that offers stat boosts, and the levelling of abilities for each playable character with collectable resources that all seem to blend together without their own distinguishing features.
With this, and the chance to change moves, don't actually contribute to any feeling of customisability that the RPG genre is known for. Players can unlock more Bond Memories and yet more resources by engaging in the Temple of Recollection, a dull dungeon-crawl made up of battles you've already played built of Hades-esque reward selection rooms.
Toted as a fresh addition to the world of The Adventure of Dai, the mode is pretty underwhelming, especially as when you've learned to scale your character with your progress, every boss and enemy becomes all too easy to wipe from the screen. It's another slog that feels deeply unimportant, just as the story of the anime does when it is reduced to mere slideshows.
Infinity Strash is a game (but barely)
Coming to the finale of Infinity Strash doesn't feel particularly fulfilling, and it's reflective of the whole experience that the "dramatic" conclusion feels like the end of a dull co-worker's slideshow after their holiday to Tenerife - satisfying only because it's over.
Though the characters are rich, that's thanks to the anime rather than the game that does them dirty with incessant cutscenes that fail to bring them to life. While battles are well-animated and fun at times, they don't do nearly enough to tie the experience together into something cohesive, let alone satisfying.
Infinity Strash is rushed and uncharacteristically shallow for DRAGON QUEST, and it becomes a pretty meagre marker for anime games that have found great successes recently, with Demon Slayer and One Piece earning their flowers in the medium. This is a low point, not just for Square Enix or DRAGON QUEST, but for anime games at large.
It seems very much as though the weight of its many sources has crushed Infinity Strash into a paste, and has proven that even for die-hard fans of the anime, the bizarre title of The Adventure of Dai's video game is one better off forgotten.