Disgaea Infinite comes at a strange time in the PSP life cycle. After completing the one and only play through of the game I was getting shades of Shadow of Destiny, a title recently re-released by Konami that was a launch era title for the PS2. Featuring multiple endings and a branching story based on events that take place, I wasn't too far off in my comparison to Shadow of Destiny. Disgaea Infinite has a bit more meat on its bones by offering users different methods to reach a variety of endings that feature other NIS characters. The only downside here is that Disgaea Infinite's story is woefully short, with the first ending being accessible in as little as four hours. Considering the large cast of characters and the humor involved you have to ask yourself, 'How much do I like Disgaea?”
The story revolves around the Disgaea universe but the experience is remarkably similar to past titles staring the series mascot, the Prinnies. As a lone Prinny it is your job to prevent the attempted assassination of Laharl, who is threatening budget cuts left and right for the already underpaid Prinnies. After being booted out of Laharl's castle for napping on the job, our Prinny hero finds a watch cleverly named TickTock that allows him to remove his soul from his body. From there it's a race against time before Laharl's assassination is carried out (sometimes in a hilarious manner). The adventure is shaped by the user's actions and decisions on who to follow to learn who is the real assassin, along the way you can alter the flow of events by using the powers granted by TickTock.
Gameplay in Disgaea Infinite is surprisingly bare bones when compared to Shadow of Destiny. Where as Shadow of Destiny has you running around a nondescript European town, Disgaea Infinite just has you following characters around watching from their perspective. As the Prinny you must navigate through a series of events that you view by possessing various characters of the Disgaea universe. After a few failed attempts you are then granted the ability to control the minds of the people you've possessed when certain situations arise which can lead you to the the proper story path, to a completely separate story, or a very abrupt end. This winds up being the single most frustrating aspect of the game. After failing you are sent straight back to the beginning of the whole story. Sometimes you'll uncover little pieces of information that point you in the right direction.
But most of the game is trial and error. Allowing the user to bypass text that has already been seen is a good measure to prevent user frustration, but the introduction sequence takes quite a bit of time. You are able to save at any point in the story, so if you have a reference point you can create a save and then load there rather than re-experience the opening portions of the game. There are quite a lot of branches to the story and thankfully a diary is provided that shows you all the story arcs that are going on over the course of the assassination plot. There is a good amount of content here if you want to look it up, but a lot of it is inconsequential unless you want to go for the various endings, which do a decent job of giving you some replay value.
Disgaea Infinite's graphics aren't far removed from the original Disgaea released in 2003. Characters now have a bit of animation in their portraits when their mood changes, and Laharl's castle has been redesigned giving previously 2-D areas a much more polished look in full 3-D. Some scenes play out with the sprites used in previous titles and for the most part they look fine on the PSP's small screen. Audio has multiple language tracks and is typical Disgaea fare, you either love it in English or prefer Japanese be spoken. Music is the Tenpei Sato stuff that you've heard before and has a few pieces that are good, but nothing really stands out here.
The amount of value you get out of a title like Disgaea Infinite depends on how much you like the Disgaea universe. As a fan of the series I liked this interesting little side story and though I grew frustrated with the trial and error gameplay I saw it through to the end to see what kind of wacky endings the title would boast. For a budget title you get a few hours of distraction, but it's hard to shake that initial feeling that there isn't much to build upon, sure there are entries to find in the Prinny Diary, but they're just pieces of knowledge that you'd get from playing any of the full fledged titles. Thankfully being a portable title when you hit a wall you can just make a quick save and come back when you've got the itch to move along in the story. If you're on a budget and want an introduction to the Disgaea world, you're probably better off picking up the re-release of the first Disgaea title released a few years back for the PSP. But if you're already a Disgaea die-hard then this title will be a welcome addition to your library.
The different gameplay style is going to throw Disgaea fans for a bit of a loop. But the humor and story is on point, making this a perfectly legitimate entry in the Disgaea universe.
Rating: 7.9 Above Average
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I recently cleared the 10 year club with Gaming Nexus. Kind of surprised I've been a mainstay here for a little over a decade now.
In a past life I worked with Interplay, EA, Harmonix, Konami, and a number of other developers and have recently returned from a job in Texas doing production work for a company that did cell phone games. Now I'm working for a record label, along with Gaming Nexus, and anywhere else that sees fit to employ me.