Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? seems like the sort of series that be able to be perfectly adapted to an RPG. It follows an adventurer in a Familia constantly going into a dungeon to boost his level, take on quests, and essentially improve the standing of that particular “clan.” Each Familia’s goddess even checks their members’ stats and skills. Which makes it all the more puzzling that DanMachi: Infinite Combate is a decent visual novel, but repetitive, tedious, and unremarkable RPG.
If you’re familiar with DanMachi, then DanMachi: Infinite Combate will give you some serious deja vu. This is a retelling of the series, with ten chapters devoted to Bell Cranel’s growth as an adventurer with Hestia Familia and six looking at things from Aiz Wallenstein’s side with Loki Familia. So for the early segments, you get to see how the same events play out from two different angles. For example, when Bell is protecting Hestia from the Monster Feria’s rogue Silverback and using the Hestia Knife for the first time, Aiz is dealing with the other creatures running loose in the city.
The bulk of DanMachi: Infinite Combate’s gameplay involves reading through a visual novel retelling the early events of the series. And honestly, it is handled very well. There’s a lot of voice acting. The translation seems solid. The character portraits look good. There are a lot of relevant CGs from notable points in the series. (There’s also a bit of fanservice, which fans of Aiz and Hestia will probably appreciate.) After you get through the early chapters, where Bell is finding his footing, you’ll also be able to take part in date events. It definitely does a good job of catching you up. Though, if you are familiar with the story, it lacks certain visual novel “givens” like an auto-play or option to press a button to skip everything.
I also liked the attention it does pay to Aiz. She’s a major character in the series and, while people reading the light novels or watching the anime might “get” why Bell would idolize her to the point of developing a skill that helps him get stronger faster to reach her level, the division of gameplay to show what her life is like with Loki Familia and how others respond to her skills does a great job of showing what makes her matter.
But really, the actual adventuring elements are so bad. You know how in visual novels, they have a skip function that lets you pass over seen text or segments you don’t care about? I wish DanMachi: Infinite Combate had that for its quests. The dungeons are bland and repetitive, with no nuance or elements to make running through them interesting. The monsters’ AI is pretty terrible, as they head up to your current avatar, stop, get a few swings in, pause, then resume the pursuit. Bell and Aiz’s general skills aren’t that great, with only their and their Supporters’ special skills being worth using to clear out foes.
There’s no real difficulty or diversity to it either. Most general quests involve beating X amount of creatures, acquiring X number of items, or reaching a certain place. Sometimes, there is a time limit on top of that. I genuinely didn’t even start to take any of the “optional” quests, ones that offer extra money or rewards and don’t advance the story, until I passed Bell’s sixth chapter. The only time a challenge comes up is when there is a boss. Even then, the issue there is you are in a more constrained space and they just hit harder if you do take a hit. Which is possible, since the dodge function isn’t always great.
Word to the wise—make sure you absolutely aren’t touching any other button when you’re dodging. Bell or Aiz will dodge backward if you only start to dodge without touching anything else, but having your finger linger on the joystick could very well result in them unintentionally dashing forward into the foe’s attack.
I can pinpoint the moment I realized just how much I hated DanMachi: Infinite Combate’s RPG segments. One of Aiz’s last few story quests is called “Earning 40 Million Valis.” To complete it, you have to collect 4,000 Magic Stones. How do you get those? By defeating monsters. How many do you get for each kill? Well, the game doesn’t tell you that in the pop-up box. It seemed like it came out to about 10 or so for each monster I eliminated. It was at least a ten minute affair, which was striking since past missions felt like they took under five minutes each. Some were even under three minutes! Know how I know? They were timed and encouraged me to just run until I grabbed X number of items or reached a specific place.
And sure, you can buy, sell, craft, and customize equipment and mess with characters’ stat and skill growth. It’s all there. Except Aiz’s storyline is honestly so short that I really only invested in healing potions and strength buffs to her stats. (If you’re constantly dodging attacks, it feels pretty useless to invest in vitality or HP.) Bell’s storyline gives you some equipment, like Hestia’s Knife and Pyonkichi Mk-II armor. So… there’s no incentive to spend actual money or resources on his equipment before that.
Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Infinite Combate is the sort of game where I wish it had been a straightforward visual novel. The story is interesting! There are some cool characters here. I love how much attention Aiz gets. But every part that isn’t a visual novel felt like a waste of time. Honestly, DanMachi deserves better. It is a story where all of the elements you would need are built into it, but somehow the game missed all of that.