August 8, 2020
Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Infinite Combate is a game made for fans. It’s based on the source material of the same name and features a world filled with wonder, magic, gods and monsters. Too bad it’s not nearly as interesting as that sentence makes it sound. The game follows Bell Cranel as he learns to become an adventurer and awakens to a grand power. All while he stalks fellow protag Ais Wallenstein, who has less personality than a piece of paper.
Infinite Combate is broken into 20 chapters: 10 each for both our bland protagonists. Here’s how the average chapter will go: 7 minutes of dialogue and slight exposition, 3 minutes of navigating menus, a minute or two of gameplay, and then a further 10 minutes of dialogue. And if the chapter has two combat sections? Well then, just rinse and repeat. This gets stale fast. Most of the time the dialogue is so inane and useless. I often felt my eyes glaze over as I made my way through. And while combat and dungeon delves do break up the monotony, it doesn’t last long.
Cutscenes are delivered in the worst ways imaginable. Two jpegs jostle at one another as text scrolls past. Occasionally an image will flash onscreen as an excuse to splash your screen with boobs. The amount of cheesecake (here meaning a sexy, attractive woman flaunting her appeal) in the game would put a patisserie to shame. Part of me wishes they had pulled something similar to STEINS;GATE ELITE and used animated clips from the show just so I had something interesting to watch. But well, with potato graphics and jumping jpegs, visual pizazz is just not in this game’s wheelhouse.
The dungeon sections, when they happen, are uninteresting, lazy, and poorly designed. From a top-down perspective, players must zoom around the dungeon, like a kitty on catnip, while fighting monsters and collecting items. Combat is simplistic; with a single button 3 hit combo, a spin attack, a ‘magic’ button, and a dash, the game is going for easy rather than interesting. And this would be fine if it didn’t feel like the dev team was doing the bare minimum required.
There’s a party system as well. But you wouldn’t know it from any gameplay footage. You can take characters with you when you dungeon delve. This gives you the added bonus of… absolutely nothing. The system adds nothing to the game outside of some extra character portraits at the bottom of your screen. The game is full of ‘interesting’ characters outside the protags. Or at least they seem interesting. But forget playing them, or even seeing them fight alongside you. The studio only animated two characters so you’ll just have to deal.
Dungeon layouts feel poorly thought out. There seems to be no effort involved with how each floor is constructed. They all consist of long looping corridors and large square rooms devoid of any interesting distinction or features. I would frequently mistake one floor for another. It turned these sections into a monotonous grind. A fact not helped by the frequent overuse of “kill X number of monsters”, “slay X till it drops Y” and “Get to level X” quest format.
There were moments where combat threatened to get challenging, but they sizzled thanks to gameplay bugs. During my playthrough, I noticed something odd: Bell and Aiz weren’t taking damage. This turned out to be a widespread and common bug with the PC version. They eventually patched it… sort of. See, if you had a pre-patch save, then the patch wouldn’t work. So to fix it, you’d need to delete your save, then delete the game, and then reinstall the game, and start all over again. I decided not to bother.
“Infinite Combate’s worst sin isn’t that it’s poorly designed or lazy… It’s that it’s boring.”
Infinite Combate’s worst sin isn’t that it’s poorly designed or lazy. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely both of those things. Its biggest sin is that it’s boring. This game and its source material should have everything going for it: Ancient gods, gigantic dungeons, swords, sorcery, and big bombastic powersets. But it’s all thrown out the window. Any potential the game has disappears like a fart in the wind whenever the characters open their mouths. Everything from the static cut scenes to the stilted dialogue failed to hold my interest.
Maybe that’s due to the characters, because each one is as flat as printer paper with motivations as thin as my patience. Bell, our ‘valiant’ protagonist, is an adventurer because he wants to hit on women, and because grandpa told him to. He’s a reader insert just waiting for every incel and ‘nice guy’ to project onto. Aiz, our heroine, is as flat and emotionless as a microwave. Some might say that’s an unfair comparison, and they’d be right; it’s a disservice to microwaves. She’s about as interesting as a box of unused thumb tacks and has about as much personality.
And don’t get me started on its depiction of the gods. Your average Anthropology nerd knows that all mythologies are pretty dang queer, and not to mention full of sex. But that won’t fly with Infinite Combate at all. Queer and Sex-positive gods are lampooned and portrayed as sex pests and perverts. Loki is portrayed as an inappropriate drunk who sexually assaults their followers. Freya, the goddess of love, sex, and beauty, is now a creepy promiscuous stalker.
The virgin goddess Hestia, on the other hand, is portrayed as a pure maiden who just wants Bell to love her. Those who have watched the series know that the source material also does Apollo and Ishtar dirty too; Portraying one as a “danger gay” out to steal Bell’s innocence, and the other as a pimp. All of this seems to reek of sexual repression, where strong women and queer people are shunned because they’re too open and proud of their sexuality.
Or maybe Infinite Combate is a dull as dishwater because of the incredible bloated story? Possibly. We follow Bell and Aiz as they undertake perilous quests like shopping, and visiting the local inn. Nothing about the world gets properly explained in this game. Want to know how anything in this world works? Too bad, because next to nothing is going be explained. Want some exposition, any exposition? Here are 20 minutes of cheesecake and dress shopping instead.
And then there’s the fact that the story isn’t so much a narrative as it is a collection of the worst tropes and clichés anime has to offer. I’m a weeb. I know that. Hell, I own it. I grew up on Toonami and Cheese TV. So my tolerance of “anime nonsense” is pretty dang high. But this game pushes me past my limits. The entire thing feels like one great big mess. It’s the videogame equivalent of that obnoxious anime fan. You know the one. The guy who sits in the corner watching Bible Black while giggling, dressed in a Naruto t-shirt and a fedora.
- A game made for the fans
- Cheap sex appeal for those who want it
- Sloppy game design
- Lazy cut-scenes and story telling
- Boring gameplay
- Sexual harrasment
- Too much horny nonsense
Infinite Combate is a game for the fans, and only the fans. If you enjoyed the source material then you may have some fun playing through it. But as a videogame, as anything other than a branded piece of merch, it falls flat on its face. It’s an unfun, unfunny, unplayable mess that would rather pander to the male gaze than play well. There’s so much more they could have done with this. But they chose to take the easy route, the path of least effort, and it shows. So, is it wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon? Yes, yes it is.