- Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
- Developer: Avalanche
- ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10 and Older)
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Pros: Great Characters, Deep Customization, Plays to Fans
- Cons: Lets Those Fans Down with Dull Gameplay and High Costs
For $75, you get the starter set of “Disney Infinity,” which comes with three characters – Jack Sparrow of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Sully of “Monsters University,” and Mr. Incredible of “The Incredibles” – and worlds of gameplay built around them that total about 3-4 hours apiece of action although encourage a lot of collectible finding and general exploration. While it’s nice that each character gets their own narratives and environments, none are entertaining enough to recommend on their own as a stand-alone game. Imagine if Jack, Sully, and Mr. Incredible’s game sets all stood on their own while combining for one stellar overall experience. They all provide glimpses of what is generally platformer-based action but it’s dull, uninspired game design. The developers were clearly tasked with making a game that appealed to as many young players as possible but they, as so many family game designers do, underestimated their audience. My 4-year-old, who can play games on my iPhone, got bored watching me play “Infinity” (and, for comparison, couldn’t get enough of the visual charm of “Rayman Legends.”)
And those who don’t get bored in this dull universe that shouldn’t bear the beloved brand of Disney will only demand more. Other characters can be bought but most of them can do nothing but play in the Toy Box world in which you can create your own designs and mini-games. And, bafflingly, given how much “Skylanders” worked because you could swap characters in and out at any moment, unlocking new gameplay and even sections of certain levels, you can’t take Jack Skellington (who costs $14 on his own), for example, into the Jack Sparrow portion of the game. (However, you can take Mrs. Incredible and Mike into the “Incredibles” and “Monsters” play sets.) And you can buy new play sets with new adventures based on “Cars” and “The Lone Ranger” for $40 a pop.
The crass attempt to get Disney fans to open their wallets wouldn’t be a problem if there was more creativity at the other end of the transaction. There are mechanics of gameplay like camera control and depth issues that feel nearly broken. And the day that my play set asked me to replace my figures over and over again because of a clear glitch, I imagined what a parent would feel who had spent $75 on the set and it was their toddler who couldn’t get it to work. A game like this that carries such a high potential price tag and purports to continue the legacy of such important characters doesn’t just need fulfill a basic level of entertainment for young gamers. It needs to rise above. “Disney Infinity” sinks.