‘Infinite Undiscovery,' ‘Last Remnant' are proof the old game maker still has it

Justin Hoeger
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)


3 stars


2 ½ stars

Publisher: Square Enix

System: Microsoft Xbox 360

Price: $59.99

Square Enix has lately focused on sequels, spinoffs and remakes of games in its established series, such as "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest." Some of these, such as "Final Fantasy XII" and "Crisis Core," have been quite good, but it has been hard to shake the feeling that the company behind some of the most beloved games of the last 20 years has stagnated.

But summer saw the release of the unique, stylish "The World Ends With You," and now we have two more drops of fresh blood in the company's lineup: "Infinite Undiscovery" and "The Last Remnant." Neither game is great, but both introduce new characters and worlds, and both try to bring something new to role-playing game combat.

"Infinite Undiscovery" is the more familiar of the two. In this game, a powerful group called the Order of Chains is binding the moon to the surface of the world with enormous links of enchanted metal. The chains bring corruption and monsters to the lands they're anchored to, and the small rebel Liberation Force works to break their hold.

The game's reluctant protagonist is Capell, a young flutist who doesn't want to get involved in the struggle. Too bad he happens to look exactly like the Liberation Force's leader, Lord Sigmund - and that he's in prison. He is soon rescued by one of Sigmund's people in a case of mistaken identity.

Quickly drawn into the fight against the Order of Chains, Capell and his companions encounter wandering bands of enemies. The battles are in real time: The player has direct control of Capell and his attacks, and is backed up by his computer-controlled allies, who can be set to follow simple guidelines and who handle themselves pretty well.

Capell can also sync up with members of his party to direct their abilities at specific targets - useful when trying to get the jump on a group of foes for a battle advantage.

"The Last Remnant" is as different from "Infinite Undiscovery" as it is from more traditional RPGs.

Instead of taking direct control over a small group, the game gives players overall command of several groups of fighters called unions as they battle multiple bands of foes.

Unions of characters are commanded as a unit - one group may attack an enemy formation while another could hold back to cast healing spells, and a third might move in to deadlock the enemy group and keep it from moving.

"The Last Remnant" is Square Enix's first game using the Unreal Engine (the same used for "Gears of War"), and it shows. Battles frequently freeze up and slow down to an unacceptable degree.





David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.