Finite Problems, Infinite Potential
Thankfully, there are some ways to avoid overdoing the same content repeatedly. You can skip ahead an hour through an easy access menu. More useful than that is a rather extensive database that includes character information and a timeline. Through the timeline, you can see which characters meet up, where, and if a major event occurs. Sadly, you can only use the timeline to jump back to the very beginning of a section and not forward to a specific hour. In that regard, the timeline feels underutilized and could have been a better way of skipping about the story.
The story itself, like many Disgaea storylines, is somewhat inconsequential and really acts as a means of showing the depth of each character. The story is presented very well and both the English and Japanese voice cast perform admirably, although I personally prefer the original Japanese voice overs. Unless I have been tricked, all of the voice actors reprise their role, so your mental continuity will not explode like a thrown prinny. Each voice cast has a different take on each character in overall tone, so hearing a whiny little kid Laharl might be strange to some. If you don’t like the lack of “dood” at the end of every sentence, or you rather have the Japanese tracks, you can change the audio during the course of play. During my 10+ hours of play, I haven’t experienced any presentational problems.
Disgaea Infinite is presented very well to the ‘watcher’, as it incorporates many static cut-scenes wrapped in 3D backgrounds with 2D sprite animations thrown in to show a broader range of action. It is a standard affair for Disgaea titles, so be aware that the technology isn’t being pushed that far. There is a plethora of sprites and animations that carry over from previous titles and work very well to act out many scene. The 2D animations add a lot to the story to keep the game from dragging. I never felt the story or conversation drag during my first exposure, and I found myself laughing out loud to even the lowest form of comedy; slapstick. This flat presentational style has worked for NIS before and it continues to work with the help of good direction and solid writing.
Ultimately, Disgaea Infinite is a hard title to judge because it is so heavy on story and light on the actual game. Most gamers will be turned off to how doomed they are to repeat history or that you aren’t interacting with the story that much. But, there will be a group of people that will love being apart of a new Disgaea story that helps to clean up some continuity gaps in the series while bringing them back to a familiar universe that they clamor to experience whenever they can. As a game, Disgaea Infinite may not do enough for gamers, but as an interactive comic, there is enough mileage to justify another trip to the Netherworld.