Let me tell you a story about an 11 year old Eli. Eli loved Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon, and literally put hundreds of hours into playing the original games. He enjoyed the incredibly long dungeons, all the Pokemon available, the well thought out story, and the legendary boss battles. Five years later, Eli picked up Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. Either the game isn’t as fun for a 16 year old as it is for an 11 year old, or so many features were taken out of the game that it is no longer as fun as it used to be. I hypothesize that it’s a combination of both.
For those unfamiliar with the Mystery Dungeon gameplay, a player departs into a dungeon with randomly generating floors and a squad of team members. Defeating any Pokemon you encounter, a recruiting a few on the way, your team must best the dungeon in order to help other Pokemon or progress in the story. Originally, there were hundreds of items and hundreds of Pokemon. This is no longer the case in Gates to Infinity.
Unfortunately, for every step that the game takes in improvement, there are literally two missteps that are taken. For example, although players are now able to customize their areas, and are able to build new shops and mini-game stands, there has been a sharp reduction in both the amount of items available and the number of Pokemon available. Whereas before every Pokemon at the time was recruitable and was in the game, that roster has been greatly cut down to about 150 for Gates to Infinity. In previous games there were hundreds of items, multiple special items for each individual Pokemon which players could collect. Gates to Infinity probably holds about one fifth, if not less, of the items of the previous games, which I find is a major omission.
Even worse is that nearly all the legendary Pokemon have been taken out. In the previous games, every legendary Pokemon was battleable and recruitable. In this game there are only a select few which can be recruited, and even less that can be battled. Before, boss battles were on an epic scale, with awesome monsters to battle and recruit. This is no longer the case in Gates to Infinity, and as a result, traversing a 25 floor dungeon doesn’t have nearly the payoff that it should and this glaring omission can be the biggest turn off for many people.
The game overall also seems to have been greatly simplified in terms of difficulty and user friendliness. Dungeons are much, much shorter than they used to be, and there are only a select few dungeons that surpass the 40 floor barrier. In previous games there were tons of dungeons, many incredibly long, but in this game there are not. For those players looking for truly challenging experiences, they will have to turn to paid DLC. This is one of those times when I despise DLC, because these dungeons should have obviously been originally included in the game originally.
The game also makes some huge missteps in terms of mission structure. Whereas before players could take multiple missions in a single dungeon and complete four at a time, Gates to Infinity requires that players only complete one mission at a time, greatly slowing down and artificially extending playtime for players. Even worse is the way that multiplayer functionality is set up. In previous games, when felled in battle, players could seek the aid of an online player to rescue them. This was an awesome feature, since I would spend tons of time rescuing others, and if ever I was in need, I would be rescued very quickly. Gates to Infinity omits this mode, instead focusing on Street Pass rescues. Players can store reviver seeds for street pass, and then distribute them to teams in need when streetpasses occur. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find anyone to streetpass with, let alone someone with the game. This leads to this feature being meaningless.
On the bright side, the game is pretty meaty and took me about 25 hours to beat. For those completionists out there, even more content is available, and players can purchase DLC as well to extend gameplay even further. The 3D isn’t bad either, and ads nice depth to the game.
This review may have come across very negative, but I didn’t necessarily mean it to be so. I was just so disappointed that the developers took out so many of the features that made the previous Mystery Dungeon games so great. The gameplay itself is still solid in this game, as with the others, it’s just noticeably lacking many of the features of the previous games in the franchise. Honestly, Gates to Infinity isn’t necessarily a bad game, but those interested should maybe look into picking up the previous game, Explorers of the Sky, as it is much more fulfilling and a much deeper game overall. For those completely determined to pick up the game, you may have some fun, but don’t say I didn’t warn you if you come back disappointed.
This game gets 5.5 Pikachus out of 10.