The Disgaea series has always held my interest for its wacky humour, strategy RPG gameplay, and wild character design. So naturally it was a surprise to find out that Disgaea Infinite would be a little less RPG based, and a little more 'mystery detective' based. It describes itself as a text-based looping adventure game, which upon reflection sounds a lot less exciting (and a lot less fun) than the typical series. But fans of the series should find that this title might offer them quite a bit of entertainment, if they just give it a shot.
I say fans of the series because it's hard to imagine anyone else playing it. The story begins with Overlord Laharl's attempted assassination, which is promptly blamed on the the castle's Prinnies. Players control a single Prinny, who somehow obtains a watch that allows their soul to travel back in time and possess others while their body lies face first in the dirt outside the castle.
Gameplay is very similar to a choose-your-adventure novel, as players get to select various parts of the story and swing them into various directions. The ultimate goal is to find out who the real assassin was, and of course to make sure the Prinnies don't get in any more trouble than they usually are. Disgaea being known for its darker sense of humor, there will also be ways to mess up everyone else's lives, start unnecessary romances, and perhaps even cause more trouble then was started in the first place. The whole equation sounds hilarious, but perhaps that's because I happen to know who all the characters are already.
It's because of that knowledge of the series that I find it hard to imagine this title is aimed at anyone who isn't already a fan of the series. But on the same page being a text based game there should be a lot more time for things like character background, or general exposition. The game already looks like it has quite a lot of time-traveling details, such as a flowchart so that it's possible to keep track of where and what every single other character in the game was doing (and perhaps how your actions could change things). It wouldn't be unforeseeable for Disgaea Infinite to give new players at least a little backstory.
But for fans of the series who know what they're getting into already, this game looks like a real treat. Though the gameplay is what has made the Disgaea series so addictive, the characters and story are just as definitive (and hilarious) in their own right. Being able to see what they do behind closed doors should provide plenty of amusement, and even a bit of replay value. How much replay is obviously determined by exactly how many different scenarios the Prinny is allowed to influence, so it's hard to say at this point how much longevity the title has.
Disgaea Infinite is a very unique direction to take such an iconic series, though perhaps not a permanent one. How much fun Infinite will be may be a little subjective, depending on how much time anyone has had with the other games, and of course there's always the question of length. But Nippon Ichi has very rarely lead me astray when it comes to hilarious storytelling, so only time will really tell how good this visual novel will be.