On the review table today is the latest edition in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. As a child, if you ever dreamed of living with Pokémon after having watched an episode of the Pokémon show, then this is the game for you. This new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game is the first 3D game in the series, and also the first on the 3DS.
After awakening from a nightmare, you are dropped into the Pokémon world and transformed into a Pokémon. You just so happen to bump into a Pokémon that has a dream which forms the basis of the game’s premise, coincidence or what? Both your character and your main partner can be chosen from Pikachu, Axew, Oshawott, Snivy and Tepig. You aid this new found friend of yours in producing a Pokémon Paradise.
The first steps you take in the world of Gates to Infinity give off a very exciting, fresh and up-beat feel. The mix of the strong vibrant colours of both the setting and the Pokémon within it, and the cheerful soundtrack complement each other well. The result of this is a world and atmosphere that will leave you in a good mood at the end no matter how you felt going in. That is, they would if other parts of the game didn’t dampen the mood.
The mystery dungeons themselves initially feel as though they are fun to fully explore without missing a single location. Here’s a brief explanation for those who might be unaware. The mystery dungeons are randomly generated each time they are entered and they comprise of several different floors which you must travel through with Pokémon battles and item collection happening along the way. The combination of the rouge-like gameplay with Pokémon makes it a little more exciting. You travel through the dungeons with up to three other Pokémon with all movement carried out with a grid-based mechanic. It looks and feels quite simplistic from the top but is pretty in-depth and complex underneath. With this being part of the main draw of the game, you’d expect it to be a little more engaging or even just a little more exciting. Sadly, it is not.
You and your team of Pokémon will all gain experience and level up from battling. As with all Pokémon games, you will have 4 different moves to choose from when attacking. If the PP of these moves happens to run out, you can either restore it using an item, or hide behind an ally and hope they deal with the attacking Pokémon. This is something that you may find yourself doing a fair deal as you may lose the PP from your favourite move and want to conserve the other moves for another encounter. However, ally Pokémon also happen to waste the PP of their moves more often than not. You will find that they seem to overuse one particular move, be it their strongest attack or not, and waste all of the PP no matter how challenging the enemy Pokémon is.
The combat is possibly the most satisfying part of the mystery dungeons. All combat happens within a quick-paced turn-based system that accounts for both movement and combat within a grid. Once you’ve made your move, it will cycle through the rest of your team and the enemy Pokémon until it is once again your turn. Be wary that if you want to move and get into a closer position to the opponent, you will be sacrificing a turn of attacking and will be open to a free hit by the opposing creatures. It really is as simple as that, with the inclusion of useable items, and a bit of strategy, it can make for fun battles that break up the otherwise dull dungeon exploration.
Gates to Infinity’s plot doesn’t really seem to know what it’s doing or where it’s going. It seems both uninteresting and quite bland, with all of it being provided to you with text boxes that are slow and unskippable. This wouldn’t be so bad had there been less text but no, this game’s full of it. Thankfully this only happens during the plot sections of the game which slot themselves into gameplay every now and then, interrupting the little fun you might be having. However, the plot can still be somewhat enjoyed by the younger players amongst us; the writers seem to have plucked the tales in this adventure right out of the show.
Aside from the plot quests, you are also tasked with carrying out requests from a noticeboard. These requests send you off to different mystery dungeons to complete side-quests, but they don’t seem to have much originality to them. However, it is worth carrying them out as they provide the fuel to what might be the most rewarding and interesting area of the game. Building up the Paradise that was mentioned earlier requires some resources and a little help from some Pokémon friends. This paradise of yours starts off with just the two of you. As you proceed further into the game, you will grow this paradise with an interesting town building feature. You will see all of your hard work within the mystery dungeons pay off as you come back to a growing town that will begin to fill with more and more Pokémon as you recruit them.
On the whole, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity still has enough about it to be enjoyable by a certain type of fan. If you’re young and like Pokémon or are a fan of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series already, then you will be satisfied by this game. If you don’t happen to fall into those categories then this might not be the one for you. While the dungeon exploration might be fun initially, it ends up being quite lacklustre and uninteresting in the end. Thankfully, the button to speed up movement in the dungeon is a godsend. It’s also a shame that the game’s plot isn’t more enjoyable because the Pokémon and the setting are all a treat to behold. If you can look past these dark patches, then you’ll be rewarded with a town building feature that should keep you entertained through the game.