Disgaea Infinite is Nippon Ichi’s attempt at turning the popular strategy RPG series into a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. The first three Disgaea games all featured well-written and entertaining characters in fun situations featuring well-written dialog. All of these things used to be window dressing for deep RPGs with an unending supply of dungeons and equipment, interesting mechanics, and multiple paths through the story.
I love Groundhog Day as much as the next guy, but repetition is only funny in small doses. Repetition doesn’t get as much of a pass in video games. Gamers are a fickle lot, and we don’t like to do the same things over and over. It’s bad enough when a game doesn’t offer anything new or evolve the gameplay at all – it’s a whole different affair when you’re genuinely watching and doing the same things over and over. Unfortunately, that’s where the Infinite comes in. Overlord Laharl has been assassinated by way of exploding pudding, and it’s up to one lone Prinny to unravel the mystery. This Prinny has access to a magical watch that lets him relive events. He can also possess characters to influence their decisions and hopefully keep the Overlord from being laid to waste by explosive dessert.
This mechanic sounds fine, but it isn’t used in moderation, and much like late cases in Phoenix Wright games, solutions are often obtuse which leads to watching the same scene over and over until you stumble across the right way to progress the story. There are 14 endings, but some aren’t available other endings have been seen, and at that point you’ll need to replay complete segments of the game to see them. It’s possible to skip dialog, but since Disgaea Infinite is all text doing so makes it very simple to miss branching paths.
If you like the characters and oddball stories of the Disgaea series then Infinite is worth playing through once, but you’ll watch the scenes enough times that the polish wears off and you’ll have no drive to see the other 13 endings. Disgaea Infinite is an interactive novel before it’s a game, and that’s okay if the characters and scenarios are entertaining, but watching those characters act out the exact same scenarios time and again in an attempt to unlock a new ending is cumbersome enough that the developers included a spreadsheet of branching points. When the player needs a spreadsheet to continue the narrative then something terrible has happened. When you finally know what all the decision points are it’s possible to breeze through the story quickly, but getting to that point takes a long time, and you’ll probably have shelved the game long before it happens.
Pros: Great characters, interesting story the first time through
Cons: Scenes are entertaining once or twice, but you’ll be watching them many more times than that
Plays Like: A “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel