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Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Familia Myth: Infinite Combate [DanMachi] (PS4) Review

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Familia Myth: Infinite Combate is based upon the popular anime and manga franchise with the same name. However, for the purpose of the review, I’m going to refer to it as ‘DanMachi‘, the Japanese title, as I don’t want 50% of the words I write to simply be the name of the game! Just like my recent review of Fairy Tail, this game is actually the first time I’ve experienced the franchise, having never seen the anime, so please be gentle on me if I get the lore wrong or misinterpret the story.

Developed by Mages., who are no stranger to fans of Japanese visual novels and narrative-based games, DanMachi combines visual novel elements with dungeon crawling in order to stick to the concept of the franchise. The Western version of the game has been published by PQube Games – everyone knows who they are! I’ve always really enjoyed the anime-adapted games they publish, Punch Line still being one of my favourite visual novels on the PS4 and PS Vita so far!

So, as someone who has never seen or heard of the franchise before starting this game, was it a fun experience? Let’s find out…

DanMachi 1

Hestia, with her Heavenly glowing boobies!

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A long time ago, the gods got bored spending infinity within their heavenly realm, resulting in them venturing down to the world below and spending time with their ‘children’. They found the confusion and inconvenience of struggling to survive quite interesting as it’s something they’ve never had to deal with, as they’re immortal omniscient beings. As such, they found joy in this new ‘messy’ life, so much so that they gave up their easy lives above and decided to live among the people down below instead. They were permitted to use only one ability, provide their ‘servants’ with great strength, servants who formed their familia.

DanMachi tells the story of one such goddess, Hestia, and her one-man familia, Bell Cranel.

Bell is a young adventurer who has been fed stories and fables from his father, stories which mainly revolved around venturing into the dungeon within the Labyrinth City of Orario and saving a damsel in distress in order to catch her eye and win her love. So, when he turned up in the city and found that no familia would take him on due to his novice inexperienced status, he was beyond disappointed and upset. That’s when Hestia met him and took him in as her one and only student. 

Just as his father had told him, Bell meets the love of his life within the dungeon, a young woman who he quickly becomes obsessed with despite his reluctancy to interact and get to know her better. This is mainly due to her saving him rather than the other way around, he wants to show her that he’s brave and able to be her saviour instead. DanMachi tells the story from both perspectives and lets you see how both lives become intertwined to the point where the entire fate of Orario lies in the hands of these two unlikely lovers.

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DanMachi 2

things can get quite frantic if you’re not well-prepared!

Gameplay
DanMachi is presented in two formats, the actual gameplay where you go out into the dungeon and fight monsters, and the visual novel style segments which progress the story. So, let’s take a look at the combat first.

Dungeon crawling:
I was a little underwhelmed by the combat within DanMachi as it’s rather basic and I felt like the format the game went with didn’t provide the best experience it could have. If anything, I was expecting a ‘Pokemon Mystery Dungeon’ format which a lot of dungeon crawlers use, but what we got was a real-time ARPG format with very little customisation and meaningful progression. The combat itself is okay, you have to dodge and jump out of the way very often, as critical hits can be deadly, and the variety of enemies within the dungeon is quite good, offering new and enhanced creatures the further you get into the story.

The problem is, the game spikes quite early and you don’t really have a way of balancing it out with new weapons and skills. You can buy new shields and weapons, and boost them up to five times to increase their stats, but they always felt a little weak and caused many premature deaths which led to frustration due to a death meaning you have to do the entire dungeon again. However, I found out, when I was in the end game, that if you sell your items you find to the merchant – instead of using them to boost your own gear – then he uses them to craft new weapons and shields for you to buy! This was a game-changer as the new gear is vastly more powerful than the items you get within the story.

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The difficulty spike wasn’t the only downside to the combat though, the dungeons themselves weren’t very exciting. During the story, you can take on missions in the Guild or simply progress the story by watching the narrative cutscene in the town. However, the missions usually consist of clearing a floor of creatures, finding a certain number of items on a single floor, or working your way through three-five floors without dying. That’s it. Despite the dungeon supposedly being bottomless, you aren’t ever tasked with going more than five floors before leaving and returning home. 

This limitation and process changes during the end game though – which I’ll cover later.

You can also take up to two other characters into battle with you (once the story allows it), which gives you the ability to push L1 or R1 to call upon their special moves. Some of these are cool and will help you during the battle, but the majority will barely scratch the enemies once you’ve started venturing into the deeper levels of the dungeon. Although, aside from the active ability, they all have passive ones such as boosting the number of gems or experience you gain – that’s the best use I got out of them!

DanMachi 3

Damn, I thought that was how it worked?

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Visual Novel?
There’s a lot of reading in DanMachi (unless you understand Japanese). To progress the story you manually pick the option for ‘Story’ in the town, this will present you with a five-ten minute visual novel-style cutscene followed by a mission in the dungeon or the town, based on the events which are happening. These segments are all non-interactive. You can proceed through them automatically, move forward by pressing Cross, or simply skip the text entirely (just like a visual novel), but at this stage, there is no choices or any branching options.

Once you return from the dungeon you’ll usually be greeted by one of these segments as well, further telling the story and how the events unfolded after you defeated your target or found the items you were looking for. There’s a lot of CG and fanservice, just like the show, but most of that appears in the end game content rather than the main game. I imagine (as I’ve not seen the show) that the games’ story copies events which are present within the anime, although I don’t want to get into detail as I don’t know what would be considered a spoiler.

There is one thing which I loved about DanMachi and that’s the way it tells the story. You play as Bell, the hopeless romantic (and adventurer), followed immediately by the same chapter as Aiz Wallenstein (the young lady he has fallen in love with). This means that you’re seeing both perspectives of the same events one after another (Bell 1, Aiz 1, Bell 2, Aiz 2, Bell 3, etc…). This reminded me of Punch Line, only that had you play as one perspective to the end and then then you replay the game from another perspective, same with The Last of Us Part II

Another game I instantly thought of whilst playing DanMachi was the incredible Raging Loop (also published by PQube). In that, once you’ve completed the game, you unlock a mode which lets you not only read what the characters are saying but you can also see what the characters are thinking. This simple addition completely changed the narrative as you now know what people thought rather than the lies and misdirection they said with their mouths. Why is it similar? When playing as Bell you get to hear Aiz talk and read what Bell is thinking. However, when playing the same scene as Aiz, you now hear Bell but see what Aiz is thinking, offering not only a new perspective but it also gives the reason behind why things were said or acted out.

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DanMachi 4

Time to go shopping and upgrade my weapons.

The City of Orario
Unlike your usual dungeon crawler games, DanMachi’s city is rather sparse and empty. One of the options I never understood is that you can visit the local Inn to talk to the barmaids and Innkeeper, but you can’t order food or take on quests from mysterious strangers who are sat in the corner drinking a beer. Thankfully, the other places you can visit have more interaction than a three or four-sentence conversation!

You can return home at any point and talk to Hestia about what’s going on. You can also spend your acquired skill points with her and unlock new passive boosts – the main reason you’ll return here after every dungeon event. You initially have fifty skills to unlock, ranging from 5% stat increases for each weapon type to boosting the number of gems and experience you get within the dungeon (the best skills to have first). However, once you’ve completed the story this increases to a hundred skills and yes, there’s a trophy required for unlocking ALL of the skills. Aiz can also return home but her goddess is Loki.

The other place you’ll become well-acquainted with is the merchant. Not only will you be buying consumables (a lot) and selling all the unwanted items in order to boost the very small amount of money you earn within the dungeon, but you’ll also be enhancing your weapons here as well. Each non-consumable you pick up (usually from the dead bodies of the enemies you slaughter) has a point value and each time you enhance your weapon you have to redeem a certain amount of points. So, as good old Bruce Forsyth would say, “points mean prizes” – well, points mean boosting the stats of your gear. It’s an interesting way of doing it and it removed the need to farm certain items in order to find specific ones…

..unless you’re trying to unlock certain weapons. As I said earlier, selling items to this guy actually unlocks new weapons and shields – including the most powerful ones in the game. So, you’ll have to farm for around an hour in the end game against two bosses in order to get the items you need for these. They rarely drop an item and they only drop one at a time despite having around five or six they can drop. So, you’ll be killing them over and over again, praying they’ll drop what you need!

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DanMachi 5

I seriously hate those blue enemies – they curl up in a ball and roll at you!

The end game
This is where DanMachi both annoyed and really impressed me. The main game took me around fifteen hours to complete (maybe a little longer) as you have ten chapters as Bell and six as Aiz (things change once you hit chapter seven). However, the end game lasted around 25-30 hours, maybe more – it’s like Arc of Alchemist all over again! This is due to the amount of farming, grinding, replaying of dungeons and the new bonus events which were unlocked. Let’s look at the end game in more detail (feel free to skip if you don’t want to know – no story spoilers, just the features which unlock).

Farming and grinding:
As I said above, you’ll want to unlock the strongest gear before you take on the new dungeons. This means you’ll have to repeatedly kill the same bosses over and over until you have enough of a certain item to sell to the merchant. Also, both Bell and Aiz are independent – they don’t share money, items found in the dungeons, skills, weapons, or consumables. So the 1+ hour farming for the items must be done by both characters. Also, I previously stated that the skills jump from 50 to 100 once you reach this stage, well that’s 100 for EACH character – which results in many, many hours of grinding.

New Modes:
Once the game is over, there are a few new places to visit and things to unlock. First of all, there are three procedurally generated dungeons – one based on Earth, one is Water, and the final is Fire. Each of these requires you to go ten floors (with the option to leave when you get to the fifth one) without dying – so floors 1-10, 11-20 and 21-30. These allow you to gain a bunch of gems and skill points, but they do get quite hard which is why I recommend getting new gear first.

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This stage in the game also unlocks…

DanMachi 6

Erm… okay

Dating Mode:
Whilst working your way through the new set of dungeons, you’ll also obtain dating points based on how many enemies you kill and the level of the dungeon itself. These points are then used to go on dates with eight of the characters who you’ve met within the game. Each character has six dates and both protagonists have eight different potential lovers – meaning there are 96 date events! Unlike the Visual Novel cutscenes so far, these all have one choice-based interaction within them. The choice doesn’t alter much, just a few lines of the dialogue, but it’s actual interaction!

Getting naked and sleeping with other characters:
Yes, you can get naked and yes, you can sleep with other characters in DanMachi. However, it’s not what you think. If you manage to complete the 20th and 30th floor in each of the three dungeons then you get to embark on a ‘hard’ mission. If you’re playing as Bell then you’ll end up ‘sleeping’ with six of the females via two visual novel events for each girl. No, I don’t mean sleeping as in sex, I mean sleeping as in suggestive and intimately lying next to them in their nightwear as you fall asleep.

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Similarly, Aiz gets naked with six male and female partners… as they get smothered in steam whilst bathing in the hot spa water. All versions are the same before you ask, there’s no edition (PC or console, English or Japanese) with actual naked bodies shown within these CGs.

Also, DanMachi sneakily blocks a bunch of scenes from being recorded or having images taken (on the PS4) – mainly during the end game. I found that the intro video and end credits were blocked, a few scenes towards the end of the game were blocked, and a lot of the visual novel events during the dating and above two sets of events. Basically, the third date onwards is blocked, and so is the second bathing or sleeping event (which is where you see a more seductive and sexual set of images). However, if you do wish to replay these at any time, they’re all available in the scene viewer on the main menu.

DanMachi 7

Nom nom nom!

Technical
I can’t complain about the visual novel aspects of DanMachi, it all looks very clean and crisp with nicely drawn CGs and an interesting narrative throughout. I would have liked more anime-integration (inserting the anime into the game), but at least they didn’t use still images like in Fairy Tail, it seems like all scenes were drawn specifically for this game (I could be wrong). The bonus dating events and the bathing and sleeping ones were a nice extra and really helped the post-game grind feel more bearable as I was getting rewarded with a new set of scenes after almost every dungeon crawl.

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In terms of the in-game combat visuals, you can tell this game was also on the PS Vita (but only in Japan) as the textures and overall design is very simplistic. I liked the style, but it felt very early PS3 in terms of the graphics at times. I feel that if DanMachi had been developed with only the PS4, PC and Switch in mind, we may have had a better-looking title in the end. But, it’s not a deal-breaker as it ran great and I had no issues with crashing or bugs.

My only complaint with DanMachi itself comes down to the required grind added post-game. If we had the dating option added half-way through, with the ability to earn dating points from then, the end game wouldn’t have felt as grindy. Also, tricking us into thinking there are only 50 skills then doubling it to 100 so we have to grind even more was a bit of an annoying move! However, even though the grind was real and it took me hours with each character to obtain the platinum (which I’m quite proud of), the constantly unlocking dating and ‘sexy’ events helped keep it from getting boring.

A big feature which I’ve only just found out about has actually been omitted from the Western release – the bonus game! In Japan, pre-orders and the first run of the game came with Is It Wrong to Shoot Em’ Up In Danmachi?, a side-scrolling pixel-art shoot ’em up based on the game. This isn’t included with our version and it also isn’t available to purchase on the store. It’s a shame as the game looks quite fun so hopefully, it’ll make it’s way over here someday. It appears PQube are actually working on porting this over right now. It’s a shame it wasn’t a pre-order bonus but it’s great that we’ll eventually get to play it!

Official Trailer:

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Final Conclusion:
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Familia Myth: Infinite Combate is an enjoyable dungeon crawling visual novel with an end game that’s longer than the main story! Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the simple combat and limited amount of customisation, I found the story very enjoyable and the bonus dating and ‘sexual’ events very entertaining. I imagine fans of the franchise will enjoy experiencing these events more, as they’re unique to the game, but you will have to play through the entire story before they’re unlocked. The gameplay does get a little monotonous and spike in difficulty, but I never got bored thanks to the visual novel-like narrative holding it all together.

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Familia Myth: Infinite Combate

£34.99
7.8

Final Score

7.8/10

The Good:

  • - Fun story and dialogue
  • - Interesting dating, sleeping with, and spa events
  • - Lots of content post-story
  • - You can replay all events, look at all CG and listen to all the music in the menu
  • - You get to play the game from two perspectives throughout

The Bad:

  • - The grind post-game for the platinum is intense (although unlocking the dating events does make it feel less of a chore)
  • - The combat is rather basic and spikes quite early if you've not got decent gear
  • - It felt like the story wasn't complete, I wanted more as the credits rolled
  • - The town only has one merchant and your goddess (for your skill tree), as the bar is pointless
  • - The combat during the story are very short missions, unlike in the end game. I was constantly left wanting more action and more gameplay
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