Galactic strategy

Space is not an uncommon setting for a video game, although few games really capture the spirit of adventure and exploration such environs arguably demand.

Space is not an uncommon setting for a video game, although few games really capture the spirit of adventure and exploration such environs arguably demand. Sure, there’s Bioware’s stellar Mass Effect series, which, for better or worse (mostly better), is about as close to being in Star Trek‘s Starfleet as a game has come without a license.

But what about a sci-fi game that focuses a good deal of its attentions simply on shipbuilding? If this sounds like a niche, you’re right. But it’s exactly what Infinite Space is about, aside from the associated sci-fi anime trappings and all they entail.

Space combat is, more often than not, the bread and butter of Infinite Space. As a young captain, your gradual task is to build up your fleet of ships while questing for mysterious artifacts across the universe. This requires buying blueprints from various space stations and tricking out your ships with new rooms that boost your stats.

It’s a pretty interesting concept for a JRPG—and one that a lot of niche sci-fi fans will probably be able to get into. You can (and will) spend a lot of time simply tweaking, adjusting and adding to your fleet, making it as efficient or unstoppable as any given situation calls for.

That being said, Infinite Space isn’t really a title you can approach lightly. Not only is the game massive (especially for a DS game) but also the level of patience you will need in order to enjoy navigating the stars, customizing your fleet of ships and battling with them is pretty high.

Of course, you’ve got to engage a lot of enemies in order to get the scratch for the ships and upgrades you want. The battling element of the game is fairly tactical, with you commanding multiple units (one at a time) to perform various basic actions.

Gamers who are familiar with Konami’s underrated alternate-history strategy RPG Ring of Red will feel right at home with this. Basically, your given vessel can move forward, backward, dodge, fire a volley of shots at the enemy or, if you charge up enough, a devastating barrage.

It may sound simple, but depending on the enemy’s actions (such as whether or not they plan to dodge or retreat), battle tactics can actually become quite in-depth. Of course, as you grow your fleet, various additional special abilities also become available through the recruitment of new personnel for your crew, which adds another level of depth to the action.

The interface aesthetic is pretty cool, as well, giving you a view of the action from the bridge as well as the in space. Battle animations can drag on (despite being visually entertaining), but thankfully tapping the touch screen can skip them. You’ll probably want to make use of this handy feature, given how much time you’ll be spending in skirmishes.

Ultimately, Infinite Space may prove too technical for everyone except the most hardcore sci-fi JRPG fan—unlike games like Xenosaga or Star Ocean, the narrative takes a backseat to the game’s various stats (though the story does pick up eventually). But if you’re game for that (and consulting the game’s massive help compendium), this might be a niche entry you’ll enjoy.