I have a theory that nobody ever sets out to make a watered-down Final Fantasy clone. But at some point in any game’s development, word comes down from on high that “target demographics” must be catered to, and before you know it, what could have been a promising and morally ambiguous tale of emotionally complex heroes ends up being about a spiky-haired guy with no personality and a magical girl that only a pedophile could get excited about.
But every once in a while, a game slips through and becomes original. So it is with Infinite Space, an epic tale about a boy born into servitude who dreams of having the freedom to roam the stars. Once he has that freedom, however, he has to become brutal in order to keep it.
The real-time battles are incredibly intense, and become epic in scope in the final third. The challenge level is unforgiving, so some amount of grinding is necessary. Fortunately, the awful feeling that goes hand-in-hand with level grinding (you know, the feeling that your life is slowly ending) is alleviated by the fact that you can skip through battles very quickly if you don’t mind missing the expertly-delivered technical jargon.
One nice touch (and this really should be standard fare in RPGs), is that you get to take part in the large-scale battles around which the story revolves. In most RPGs, you end up traveling through the secret sewer system under the main villain’s headquarters, then you climb out of the toilet and everyone gets all teary and weepy before the anti-climactic showdown, then you get to watch some cut scenes of an actual battle occurring elsewhere. Infinite Space is not about paths between towns inhabited by goblins high on PCP. It’s about a boy trying to survive in a harsh world, and the man he grows into: a ruthless fleet commander who stands against entire nations.
Infinite Space has a very cool, very sedate, very dark neon-on-black color scheme that perfectly fits the mature theme of surviving in a cold, uncaring universe. War and conquest are discussed in terms so realistic that it would not be embarrassing for the player if a non-gamer happened to walk in and observe. For a gamer with patience and an appreciation of depth, Infinite Space is, without a doubt, one of the finest games available for the DS.
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Hey readers! If you liked this post, you should check out some of my books. I’ve got an epic series called Demonworld, which is equal parts Mad Max and Lord of the Rings (think “science fantasy”), and a much-loved gamebook series called Heavy Metal Thunder which is currently a hyperlinked Kindle book but will be a fancy phone app any day now.