TGS 2023: ‘Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai’ Preview Combines Anime Essence With Rogue-like Fun

With a rich history under its belt, Dragon Quest has grown into a household name within the Japanese role-playing game or JRPG scene. The series is, after all, credited for introducing several features to the genre, and often cited as a source of inspiration for various subsequent role-playing titles, but its influence extends beyond video games.

TGS 2023: Infinity Thrash Dragon Quest Adventures of Dai

The world of anime and manga is no stranger to its presence. Not only did the franchise spawn multiple works in the field, it also features the illustrations of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, the brains behind the iconic Slime character. As much as Dragon Quest encapsulates the JRPG spirit, there’s plenty of anime-slash-manga flair to go around, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai features both elements. 

The spin-off, based on the Dragon Quest manga that ran from 1989 to 1996, is set to launch worldwide on 28 September, and Geek Culture got the opportunity to try out an hour-long, hands-on demo in the days leading up to Tokyo Game Show 2023. Unlike the franchise’s signature turn-based approach, this upcoming adventure flows in the vein of an action RPG, with a combat style that’s reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII Remake

Like its Square Enix peer, players are able to switch between party members and use abilities tied to a cooldown, in addition to a special attack that’s only available sporadically. Each of them is equipped with different expertises; where Dai dishes out close-range damage, Popp casts devastating spells mid-distance. Maam, meanwhile, serves as a long-range gunner and healer, so there’s some room to experiment with various styles, though Dai’s is the most beginner-friendly. There’s a layer of strategy involved as well, stemming more from stat modifiers than actual combat itself. 

Before the start of a fight, players have to assemble their party, add or change out Bond Memories, select manga panels that offer various stat boosts, and make other play style considerations. While the demo only included around 10 modifiers, one thing’s for sure: ace the planning, and the difference in the flow of combat will be felt, which lends more depth to gameplay. 

TGS 2023: Infinity Thrash Dragon Quest Adventures of Dai (4)

The addition of Bond Memories also removes the need for context. Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai makes it easy for newcomers to understand the events that take place in the anime and manga, unravelling them in the form of animated cutscenes and inked panels. For the most part, these do ease players into the world of Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai and fit nicely into the overall structure of Story Mode, with one of the gripes being its length. 

While there’s an option to skip, the cutscenes are often longer than the actual combat, particularly with mobs, so the battle rush can diminish very quickly and not bring the same level of thrill over time. There’s no need to fret for those well-acquainted with the source material – the game is a faithful adaptation of its roots, even if it leaves out some moments in the essence of cohesion. 

When the action kicks into high gear, it can be difficult to keep track of mobs, but this is a genre-wide issue that veterans should already expect. However, the finicky target-lock here makes it more prominent – instead of indicating the enemy with a marker like, say, an arrow or a crosshair, it shifts the camera to a general direction, and only seems to work on single targets. The window to dodge attacks (or perfect parry) and execute follow-up hits isn’t the most intuitive here, either.

Still, it can be plenty fun at its highs, especially in the Temple of Recollection. This other mode available in the demo offers a multi-level dungeon experience that spawns different enemies and traps with each new run. Here’s how it works: party members start from level one, and have to fight their way through each floor until they either leave with their accumulated perks – that can be carried over to Story Mode in the full game – or die trying.

At every stage after defeating enemies, players will have to choose between two doors that grant stat or skill boosts to a random member or everyone. Purple doors denote more challenging fights and reward better buffs, and the further in Dai and the team are, the tougher the battles. This rogue-like-inspired element brings a refreshing touch to the battling structure, with its unpredictable nature allowing for great replayability. 

Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has its charms. For its anime and manga fans, the game continues to honour its roots, and promises a heap of nostalgia in store. Newcomers, meanwhile, may find pleasure in its accessible combat diversity, the time-sinking adventures in Temple of Recollection, or even the easy-to-follow story. Either way, its bold departure from the traditional JRPG structure is commendable, especially with the always-there expectations to stay faithful to the source material.

Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai releases 28 September 2023 on all major consoles, and 29 September on Steam.