Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is an accessible and entertaining roguelike
Even though Pokémon X & Y are coming later this year, they won't be the first games to feature our favorite little monsters in 3D. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity got the jump on X & Y, bringing Pokémon into a gorgeous 3D world. But will it satisfy longtime fans?
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games fall under the roguelike genre, where, just like the title implies, players venture through various randomized dungeons to complete quests, find loot and fight other Pokémon. For those unaware, this is a very different series from the standard RPG Pokémon games.
You start off the game as a human, transformed into one of five different Pokémon you can choose to play as. You then befriend various Pokémon on the way, start your very own Adventure guild, and explore many various dungeons.
However, those hoping for that deep and difficult roguelike experience should certainly look elsewhere. It is, after all, a Pokémon game, so accessibility is something that comes with the territory. Dungeons are oftentimes not hard, there is no hunger meter, and you'll most likely have healing items aplenty. That's not to say it should be considered a negative, but the roguelike genre certainly has some of that "this game should be hard" mentality associated with it.
If there is one thing that keeps you going despite the lackluster story, it's the fact that you're constantly collecting items to help build up a town from scratch, eventually ending up with a city filled with various amenities that will no doubt make your adventuring that much easier.
The combat, like other Mystery Dungeon titles, is turn-based. Each movement, whether it's moving your character to a different tile or performing an attack, takes up a turn, which then allows your companion and enemies to take a turn. Each move has a certain amount of PP associated with it (retained from past Pokémon titles) and usually does require some form of strategy before simply unleashing another attack. Exploiting weaknesses will make battling not only that much quicker, but also more satisfying.
When not in a dungeon, your Pokémon have full movement capabilities, not tied down to tiles, and this is where most of the puzzle-solving elements come into play. They're mostly associated with being able to advance through the environment and aren't hard to figure out (again, think of the target audience), but they provided a somewhat entertaining diversion from dungeon exploring.
The game certainly looks rather fantastic, with each Pokémon looking great in 3D. This is no stylistic approach like Pokémon Rumble Blast. Since Pokémon actually speak to each other here, you're not forced to listen to them repeating their name over and over again. However, expect to go through walls upon walls of unskippable text, which can't even be fast forwarded. It's quite possibly one of the most tedious things about the game, making conversations into chores.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity probably won't be the game that will hold you over until X & Y come out later this year. It's a simplistic diversion in a genre that's usually the exact opposite, but given the Pokémon name, it makes sense that some corners in the difficulty department we're cut.