You know, I’m just going to use “Danmachi” to refer to this title work, as it’s a lot easier than that full title, and is based on the original Japanese Light novel, manga, and anime series. Danmachi itself is a fairly entertaining series, focused on the adventures of Bell Cranel as he delves into the dungeon in the city of Orario. Now with Infinite Combate coming out on the Switch, it’s time to find out: Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in the Dungeon?
For those unfamiliar with the series, Danmachi takes place in Orario, where there is a great underground dungeon filled with monsters. Adventurers traverse this dungeon slaying monsters in order to increase their stats and level up. They form Familia’s, centred around a God who is the head of the Familia. Quite literally, as the Gods do in fact exist, and they do interact with their Familia. Danmachi centres on Bell Cranel, a young adventurer and the only member of the Hestia Familia, headed by the Goddess Hestia.
As Bell travels through the dungeon, he meets new people, gets to have adventures, and decides on a way to carve out a path for himself in life. For those a little more familiar with the series, Infinite Combate is the first anime season, or up until the 18th floor incident. What that means for the player is that you have 10 chapters as Bell, and 6 as Ais Wallenstein for story mode.
Incidentally, this brings me to my first gripe with Danmachi Infinite Combate: it’s way too short. I finished the main story in probably about five hours or so, including text and doing all the bonus quests. In case you’re curious, game progression consists of: story, plot quest, return to town, plot quest, story. This happens each chapter, meaning you have about 32 total story based quests, each of which will take 5 minutes or less. That’s less than three hours of plot based quests. Where the actual game time comes is in the extra mode after you’ve cleared the story mode.
So how does the game actually play? Well, not…badly, I suppose. Essentially every dungeon delve has you controlling either Bell or Ais as they roam around the dungeon beating enemies. This is done as an active action style, where you can run up to an enemy, smack them in a combo a few times, and then dodge away to rinse and repeat. Or just sit in front of an enemy and continue to hit them because they keep flinching. Either works, mostly.
You can bring up to four items into combat with you, and stacks of those items up to 9 of each. You’ll also have access to a ranged magic to go with your melee weapons, although Bell doesn’t unlock his for a while. Pro tip: if you stand still and don’t move for a bit, you regenerate MP. I only learned this halfway through the final set of floors in the first extra dungeon. Probably because you aren’t really told, and half the dungeon quests are on a timer, so you don’t tend to just sit around anyway.
As you go through each floor of the dungeon, you will earn skill points, money, and item drops from the enemies. Skill points can be used via your Goddess (Hestia for Bell and Loki for Ais) to increase their stats, for instance a 5% strength increase, or 20% less chance to get inflicted by burn, which is way more useful than you’d think. Monster material drops can either be sold to the merchant for cash, which also unlocks gear when you sell enough, or can be infused into gear in order to upgrade the gear. This is actually my biggest problem with Danmachi Infinite Combate: the weapon/armour shop and full inventory aren’t shared between characters.
Yup, that’s right, that cool sword you just spent two hours farming drops for with Bell? Turns out it’s a normal sword, not a dagger that Bell is proficient in. Go spend another two hours farming that as Ais as well. This is even more annoying when you realize that Ais only has six chapters, and the chapters alternate until Ais runs out, meaning her collected item drops will be basically half the game behind what Bell has collected, so now you have to go farming intermediate gear, to get better gear, so you can actually do the Extra mode content, that’s actually the same between Bell and Ais anyway cuz the devs were too lazy to make different dungeons for the two of them.
Rant aside, there are many issues with Infinite Combate.
- The music is only about 20 seconds, and has the single worst looping I’ve ever heard, with a full 2 second pause before just starting up again,
- The game is way too short,
- The text wrapping during the cutscenes is awful and the grammar could certainly use work in some places,
- The extra mode dungeons are just a big time sink and aren’t really fun just gameplay time padding,
- The dungeons themselves are mostly just annoying as they can be described as:
- too many enemies,
- too much poison,
- too much damage,
- Respectively for each extra dungeon, the only rewards for clearing the extra dungeons are points to let you “date” characters and some super cliché hot springs and sleeping together scenes,
- The game doesn’t fully explain mechanics such as MP regeneration or the fact you can hit the minus button to bring up a map,
- The lack of shared inventory is an awful design choice,
- All the bosses can three or four shot you when you first fight them,
- Stat progression is capped by story mostly so you can’t even over level if you’re having trouble with a boss or floor enemies,
- You’re never actually told what your special skill actually does,
- There’s lag on skill activation that generally made me get clubbed in the face by an enemy, AND
- The hitboxes are some of the wonkiest excuse for detection I’ve seen since the Plesioth in Monster Hunter.
Huh, well apparently the rant wasn’t completely finished there. Needless to say, Infinite Combate feels like 90% padding and 5% gameplay with another 5% obligatory fan service scenes. The base combat is surprisingly solid, and the fact you can bring two helpers with you to use their skills is nice, but why can’t you bring them during free exploration? What the heck is that? I want to bring the party member that increases monster drops so I don’t have to spend six hours farming monster loot for crying out loud. I think this is the first time I’ve ever been legitimately angry at myself for playing a game, and it only got worse the longer I played. Yes, it stays true to the source material, yes I’m pretty sure they got the original Japanese voice actors to do the lines in the game, no that didn’t really make it better. At least the item shop guy tells you how many of what drops he needs to unlock gear, although being forced to pay for it afterwards and not knowing what it is before unlocking it is annoying.
My feeling for Danmachi Infinite Combate is that it feels like it was supposed to be a mobile game, like something you’d play on your phone or tablet, and then have to drop actual money on revives when a boss two shots you with some janky double-hit move, or to get extra drops or to buy weapon unlocks or something. The worst part is, I’ve played better mobile games that were free to play with easily four times the content, AND less annoying systems. To quote my friend Jamie “So the answer to the games question, yes it is wrong to pick up girls in this dungeon crawler”.
I mean, the graphics are also poor for what I was expecting, and quite frankly the post game content felt like the devs were just saying “haha, we took your money and by this point you can’t refund”. I mean, I’ve liked most of PQube and Mages products as companies, but this time was a major disappointment. It really does feel like it was designed as a mobile game, and then the development crew were suddenly told “oh yeah, we actually want this as a console title” and they didn’t have enough time to rework it.