You know you’re in dangerous sci-fi waters when a world has a made-up swear word. Battlestar’s ‘frak’. Judge Dredd’s ‘drokk’. Infinite Space gives us ‘grus’. Syntactical reverse engineering struggles to pinpoint the exact meaning. “What the grus!” suggests ‘hell’, but that doesn’t translate well to “what a load of grus”. “Grus you!” suggests something worse. Normally we’d file fictional swear words alongside nobbly prosthetic foreheads and reach for the off switch. But normally, developers Platinum and Nude Maker aren’t at the helm.
This is pure melodrama. Farmer seeks life as Zero-G Dog (the space equivalent of the cool kids doing BMX tricks down at the bus station). As boy becomes man he faces pirates, politics and artifacts from beyond the stars. Allegiances form and rivalries burn ferociously. Enemies become lovers. Boy robots become girl robots. A geek cross dresses and almost gets molested by hairy space pirates. Epic events carry Infinite Space. Lift them and comical, nuanced life teems underneath.
At the heart is your ship: a build-it-yourself beauty and one of the best RPG heroes of all time. Ships show you how meaningless most traditional RPG stats are. Strength, defence, dexterity: these are cold numerical parts of an invisible math formula. Installing an engine, shield barrier or crew cabin into your ship makes an unmistakable difference. Fast ships sprint across battlefields like Road Runner.
Radar rooms let cowardly captains fire from afar. Installing a second bridge helps laser fire accurately thump into enemy hulls. Build it and fun will come. When did you last relish in a +1 increase in Psyduck’s SP defence?
Ships are skeletal frames waiting for parts, or modules, to be inserted. Space is tight. Do you champion crew happiness or the tech they maintain? Every inch given to meatlings is one taken from guns, shields and engines. We swiftly jettisoned manners out the airlock after our initial boat of pampered space idiots exploded in flames after a single dink to the hood. Middle ground doesn’t necessarily have to be found – with a fleet of multiple ships, specialist designs can complement the whole.
It’s not perfect – the way that you can’t see ship stats in the building screen is a glaring omission. Trying to weigh up the pros and cons of five ships in unison is also tricky with only one set of stats on screen at any time. The amount of factors you control is unbelievable for a DS game and, at times, a little unworkable. But when you fire the cannons you’ve struggled so hard to tune, however, much is forgiven…