European box art
|Genre(s)||Role-playing, space simulation, real-time strategy|
Infinite Space (Japanese: 無限航路 Hepburn: Mugen Kōro) is a 2009 science fiction role-playing video game with space simulation and real-time tactical role-playing elements, developed by Nude Maker and PlatinumGames and published by Sega for the Nintendo DS. It was the third of a four game publishing deal with Sega. A series of short films were also produced by anime studios Gonzo and Production I.G to promote the game, premiering at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show.
Infinite Space is a science fiction role-playing video game that allows the player to design and control a spaceship. The player can customize the ship with over 150 different design models, along with over 150 possible crewmembers. After customizing a ship, the player can explore an expansive game world with a story spanning two galaxies. Characters seen in the game are displayed in 2D, while ships, exploration, and battles are in 3D.
The entire game is controlled by the touchscreen. Neither characters nor spacecraft are controlled directly, but rather, are controlled in a "point and click" type manner. Travel is done by first choosing a destination, then engaging the engines to move towards that destination. Spaceship battles occur in real-time, with attacks utilizing a "command gauge" feature. As the command gauge builds up, the player can use it to perform attacks against an enemy ship. The rate at which the command gauge fills depends on the type of ship, and the crew of the ship.
When the player boards an enemy ship, the player takes control of their character to move through the ship. Characters aren't moved directly, but rather by selecting commands, such as "move right". Melee battles are fought too, using a system similar to "rock, paper, scissors", and a command gauge that is similar to the one used in spaceship battles.
Multiplayer spaceship battles are also available for two-players to play competitively over local Wi-Fi. The game also features a non-linear branching narrative, with numerous choices that can have dramatic consequences. The game needs to be played multiple times in order to see the different possible paths in the narrative, which is helped by a New Game+ mode that is unlocked after completing the game for the first time.
Infinite Space contains themes from the novel Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. The plot is divided into two main storylines; both are centered around Yuri, a starship captain-in-training, and take place ten years apart.
The game is set tens of thousands of years in the future, when mankind has spread across several galaxies. While faster-than-light travel using "inflation inverter" engines is the standard for all spaceships, ancient constructs called Void Gates are necessary to travel wider distances that would still take years to cross. Ruined, inactive Void Gates called Dead Gates can also be found, but are seen as nothing more than scientific curiosities. Infinite Space focuses on Yuri's quest to discover the ultimate purpose of the Epitaphs, artifacts scattered throughout the universe.
Most of the game takes place in two galaxies: the Small Magellanic Cloud and the Large Magellanic Cloud. In the first part of the game, which takes place in the SMC, Yuri becomes aware of the Lugovalian Empire, a very large and powerful intergalactic empire, which is ruled by an iron fist by Emperor Taranis. Learning of their desire to conquer the SMC, Yuri tries to coordinate the galaxy's forces for a defense, but they quickly fall to the Lugovalian threat. In the second part of the game, or ten years after the fall of the SMC, Yuri again tries to coordinate the defenses of the LMC amidst an impending Lugovalian invasion.
Infinite Space begins as Nia Lochlain, a "launcher" who helps people leave their homeworlds to travel in space, assists her client Yuri leave his homeworld Ropesk and break the ban on space travel there. Ropesk's ruler Demid Panfilov takes Yuri's sister Kira hostage to force him to return. Yuri pawns his Epitaph, which he believes to be a gift from his father, to buy his own ship, then confronts Panfilov and rescues Kira. Sometime later, Yuri hears that the pawnshop holding his Epitaph has been attacked by pirates. He pursues the pirates, but is unable to prevent the legendary pirate Valantin from taking his Epitaph. Vowing to best Valantin with a ship of his own, Yuri proceeds to the Interplanetary Union of Elgava and assists in defeating the local pirate faction. As a result of his actions, he is invited by Commander Oleg Vladykin to research Epitaphs in Elgava Central. There, Vladykin informs Yuri that an Elgavan probe ship studying Epitaphs has disappeared; Yuri verifies the ship was destroyed and learns that Epitaphs are sometimes found near Dead Gates. After a trip to Kalymnos to examine the ruins of a Dead Gate near the planet Mytilene, Commander Vladykin alerts Yuri that a fleet traveling from another galaxy was what destroyed the Elgavan probe ship, and this fleet's destination is the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). Nia reveals to Yuri that the fleet belongs to the distant Lugovalian Empire and is vastly more powerful than the combined forces of the entire SMC.
Yuri then travels to the Spetses sector to rescue the kidnapped granddaughter of a prominent Nova Nacio industrialist, but he encounters the pirate Valantin in ruins on Spetses that match those found on Mytilene. Valantin gives Yuri the Spetses Epitaph, which transforms and reactivates a nearby Dead Gate. Yuri follows Valantin through the restored Void Gate into a Flux Sector, a region of space that constantly fluctuates into different states of existence. Valantin escapes and Yuri loses consciousness, reawakening in the remote Irvest sector. Yuri then journeys to the Magellanic Stream to allow Nia the chance to warn the nations of the Large Magellanic Cloud about the Lugovalian invasion fleet, and then is forced to choose sides in a war between Kalymnos and Nova Nacio over the Irvest sector. While Yuri works to end that conflict, Elgava makes contact with the Lugovalian fleet. Having greatly underestimated the Lugovalians' power, the Elgavan contact force is easily destroyed and Elgava falls days later. The defeat of the most powerful nation in the SMC prompts Nova Nacio to surrender to the Lugovalians immediately, while Kalymnos puts up a futile resistance.
With the entire SMC now subjugated by the Lugovalian Empire, Yuri and Nia travel to the Magellanic Stream to request the aid of the LMC nation Regeinland. The Lugovalian fleet arrives at the Magellanic Stream but is intercepted by a force from Regeinland. Lacking the strength to engage the Lugovalians, the Regeinlandics decide to seal off the starlane to the LMC. Yuri leads an attack on their fleet and manages to cripple their flagship. Nia boards the flagship and is mortally wounded while attempting to kill the Lugovalian commander. Meanwhile, the Regeinlandics deploy a prototype "exalaser" and cause a nearby red giant star to go supernova, wiping out much of both fleets and enveloping the Void Gate that leads to the LMC. Yuri and his remaining crew escape to the LMC before the Void Gate is sealed.
The second half of Infinite Space, subtitled "Yuri the Man", begins 10 years after the Lugovalian conquest of the Small Magellanic Cloud. The Galactic Federation of the Large Magellanic Cloud has suppressed all information about the fall of the SMC and imprisoned all SMC refugees, but the Lugovalian Empire is close to discovering a new route to the LMC. Yuri has been imprisoned on the prison asteroid Lari, but manages to escape with some friends and later rescues his old crew. Soon after he is surrounded by fleets from the nations of Libertas and Regeinland and chooses to surrender to the Regeinlandics, who enlist Yuri to help them prepare for the Lugovalians. As a test Yuri is asked to resolve a civil war in the frontier nation of Escondido, where he obtains another Epitaph. Regeinland then sends Yuri to investigate a newly discovered Void Gate which may link to the SMC. Yuri uses the Epitaph to stabilize the Void Gate and takes it to the Spetses sector in the SMC, where he reunites with more of his old crew and reconnoiters the Lugovalians for the Regeinlandic military. Upon his return to the LMC, the fate of the SMC is made public and the LMC nations begin fortifying their borders. Libertas promotes an unpopular resolution to unify Galactic Federation members under a single government to fight Lugovalos. Coupled with news of a premeditated attack by Libertas against a small defenseless nation, the Federation becomes divided against Libertas and civil war breaks out. Regeinland heads a coalition of nations to assume control of the Federation and commissions Yuri to subdue two of Libertas' allies. With Libertas isolated, the balance of power shifts in Regeinland's favor.
Regeinland proceeds to move against the Orders group, the hardliner element of Libertas and the Federation. Once Orders' fleet is defeated, Libertas backs down and concedes to the Regeinland-led nations. The Federation president summons representatives from all Federation nations to the capital Merylgild, and a defense plan to confront Lugovalos is unanimously passed; for the first time in its 500 year history, the Galactic Federation is truly united. Despite being prepared, when Lugovalos finally invades the LMC, the Federation fleet guarding the Void Gate to the SMC is routed and surrounding sectors are captured. During the defense of the Andalucia sector, Yuri realizes he has the power to manipulate Flux Sectors and in effect alter the reality within them. Later, Federation forces claim a decisive victory over a significant detachment of the Lugovalian fleet, slowing their advance through the LMC. Meanwhile, the Holy Nation of Adis begins claiming responsibility for the disappearances of ships using Void Gates. Yuri, now a hero of the Federation, leads a force to conquer Adis and end the supposed threat. Afterward, Patriarch Bogd of Adis reveals to Yuri the existence of the Overlords, omnipotent entities who create universes. The Overlords revealed themselves to the first humans, the Progenitors, on Terra thousands of years ago, bestowing the technology to travel faster-than-light and endure the rigors of space travel. Once humans had expanded throughout the entire universe, the Overlords would initiate the End of Days. Bogd explains that Yuri has his powers over Epitaphs and Flux sectors because he is an Observer, created directly by the Overlords; Kira is not Yuri's sister, but a Tracker created to trace Yuri's movements. The Void Gates collected the experiences of Observers and Trackers for the Overlords. At the site of the Ark of the Progenitors, Bogd tells Yuri that the Lugovalian emperor, Taranis, was also an Observer, and the reason for Lugovalos' conquest was to unite humanity to oppose the Overlords. When attempting to access the Overlords' network to discover how to defeat them, Kira is erased from existence, her body reduced into a dead android and an Epitaph.
Meanwhile, the Lugovalians continue strengthening their positions. Unable to negotiate with them, Yuri uses Kira's Epitaph to open a Void Gate into the SMC to assault Emperor Taranis' flagship. Yuri breaks through the Lugovalian main fleet and defeats Taranis, forcing him to retreat. Taranis then orders a ceasefire and peace talks between Lugovalos and the Galactic Federation are opened. Suddenly, Overlord ship-like entities called Phages appear and begin attacking everything in sight; the Phages' purpose is to break the universe down into dark matter and prepare for the creation of the next one. As more and more Phages arrive and begin dismantling planets and Void Gates shut down, Yuri escapes with the timely help of Valantin. At Merylgild, Valantin explains that the only way to stop the Overlords from destroying the universe is to find the "True Warp Gate" that connects to their dimension and close it. Information from the Kira-android confirms the Gate itself is in the Solar System, the long-lost birthplace of humanity. Yuri, Valantin, Taranis, and other people Yuri has met along the way travel to the Solar System using the Void Gate frame built into Valantin's ship. Near Mars, Valantin sacrifices himself to let Yuri destroy the True Warp Gate, which is in orbit around Terra and powered by a Dyson sphere encapsulating Sol. While Yuri fights off Phages, Taranis crashes his ship into the Dyson sphere, destroying it and closing the gate. The game ends as Yuri's ship slowly approaches a Flux sector, Yuri cradling the Kira android in his lap. After the credits, Yuri's ship is seen heading away from the now-stabilized Flux sector and Kira is briefly shown to have been restored. It is unknown if Yuri used his power to alter anything else in the universe.
Development and release
Infinite Space was known as Infinite Line, during its production. Legendary anime mechanical designer Kazutaka Miyatake of Studio Nue -famous for his work in the Macross science fiction series- made several spaceship designs for the game.
Reception for the game has been generally positive. Japan's Famitsu magazine rated it 9/9/8/8 for a total of 34 points, earning it a Gold award. Famitsu applauded the large volume of the game, along with its extensive customization and intricate story. While some Famitsu reviewers liked this, others were overwhelmed by the amount of detail, and the steep learning curve.
Among Western critics, Infinite Space received aggregate ratings of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic, and 76% on GameRankings. IGN gave it a score of 7 out of 10, stating that the game had an "epic story", but that the steep learning curve and clunky interface would test player's patience in being able to get to the good parts of it. GamesRadar had a similar view, praising the multifaceted story, but complaining about interface problems, such as how the player can customize the ship, but cannot directly see how different parts affect the ships statistics while actually doing the building itself. Overall, GamesRadar gave it a score of 9 out of 10, concluding that what it "lacks in the soft approachability of a Pokémon or Super Mario RPG, it makes up for in bombastic scale and mettle. Hundreds of planets. Hundreds of interesting, fully formed characters. Hundreds of lasers, mess halls and intergalactic toilets to equip. Infinite Space feels like proper grown-up gaming and a proper grown-up journey. Our hero grows from boy to man[sic], and the DS matures with him."
RPGFan gave it a glowing review, giving it a 92% score, and stating, "There truly is a grand sense of time and space in this game; it is a long story told across multiple galaxies and dozens of star systems. It is that rare RPG that genuinely makes you feel like the fate of the whole universe is at stake and is actually worthy of its grandiose name. Easily on par with anything you'll find in Xenosaga or Mass Effect, this is not just good science fiction, but a space opera for the ages." RPGamer gave it a score of 4 out of 5, noting that the "narrative features numerous choices to make, some of which have dramatic consequences," and concluding that "the game's battles are entertaining, the story is one of the most gripping in video games, the subject matter is unique, and the rewards for exploration and customization are plentiful. These qualities are plenty to make it one of the DS's top RPGs."
During the first week following its release in Japan, Infinite Space sold 38,000 units and was the highest selling game in Japan during that period. Sales tracking company Media Create predicted that the game would have a 92% sell-through rate, indicating that it could continue to perform well on the market.
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