Disney Infinity is an action-adventure sandbox video game developed by Avalanche Software and published by Disney Interactive Studios. It’s one of a million different Amiibo or Skylanders clones that’s come out and taken over shelves at your local game section, and I’ll admit I’m a little skeptical of the entire genre of obnoxious, scalper-ridden figurine games. I’ve never been fond of games that require me to keep pouring out money to access features I theoretically already bought when I got the disk in the first place, and I definitely didn’t think I needed another set of cheap plastic things to lose. “My pop vinyl collection has me covered, thank you very much.” I would say to myself as I routinely passed by the ever expanding shelf of competing plastic crap.
Well, one bad week, a sale, and a tax return later, and there I was traipsing into the house with a bag full of said plastic crap. It was the Star Wars figures in particular that finally broke me down – charmingly reminiscent of the Clone Wars animated TV series, the starter set I chose just so happened to contain my favorite character – I was able to justify the expense to myself because even if the game itself might be total crap, the figures would look nice on my shelf.
The figures themselves are incredibly well made, befitting of a Disney budget. On their own, I’d say they safely warrant the $15 a pop pricetag, if toy collecting is your jam. The paint job tends to be flawless, the material used isn’t going to break on you any time soon, textures are pleasing, poses are varied and dynamic, and since they’re all firmly attached to an electronic base, nobody’s going to fall over. Very satisfying, albeit the selection is pretty limited if you’re not into Marvel or Star Wars. Odds are, you’re not going to find your favorite Disney properties character just yet – and this time, it’s not the scalpers’ fault.
The game itself blew me away. Disney Infinity is a delightfully customizable sandbox game, featuring a little something for just about everyone. Right from the central hub you have access to a charmingly minimalist racing game, an engaging 3D platformer, a reasonably challenging combat section (Considering the audience,) a wonderfully customizable home base, and even a cute little farming simulator. Certain figurine sets come with a clear plastic “Play Set” piece which brings you a set of themed missions along a storyline within a Disney property’s universe. Each figure has its own unique, surprisingly detailed skill tree and collects experience individually, providing incentive to play with and level up all your figures.There’s enough material in the game itself to keep you thoroughly satisfied, even if you never buy an additional figurine – but a few supplementary games and redeemable codes in every package ensure that your purchase of additional figures will still feel rewarding. No individual aspect of the game is particularly new or revolutionary, nor difficult – even the most casual gamer could pick it up and expect to do relatively well – but the charm of the game is in the sum of its parts.
Playing Disney Infinity feels exactly like playing with your toys did when you were six years old. There’s really no better way to describe the sum total of the experience – they really must have sprinkled in some Disney magic between those lines of code. Knee high versions of pretty much every Disney character populate a delightfully surreal-yet-familiar hodgepodge world, offering you tutorials or quests, or simply being charming and delightful. You can parkour your way around the structures, fling your little knee high friends to achieve goals, answer Disney trivia, practice your lightsaber skills, or even just spend twenty solid minutes bowling over every movable object with a hoverboard, all while bringing one of your physical toys to life. In stark contrast to the Kingdom Hearts series, Disney Infinity offers up exactly zero explanations for itself – this world exists because it’s fun. If you’ve ever wished that playtime could be as magical as Toy Story described, Disney Infinity is here to deliver on that.
Disney Infinity isn’t without its faults – it is food for the heart and soul, not the mind. In attempting to cater to absolutely everyone at once, the game is a little overwhelming, especially on startup. There’s so much to do in every direction, and yet never quite enough of your favorite thing. The controls are a little squirrely – particularly in the racing game – and you can never quite be sure exactly how seriously the game is taking itself. Befitting of a game designed for children, the challenges are not exactly challenging. The customization options could use to be a bit more intuitive, and the game doesn’t make very good use of the Wii U format, simply using the handheld touchscreen as mirror of the television instead of any sort of options menu or interface. I’m not particularly confident that version 4.0 won’t come out next month and ask me to re-purchase everything, either.
Disney Infinity is a hidden gem, a lighthearted and delightful romp, and a rewarding experience for those with a young heart, and while it may leave more hardcore gamers wanting, I consider it a valuable addition to my game shelf and toy box alike.
Figures: 9.5 out of 10
Gameplay: 7.5 out of 10
Overall Experience: 8 out of 10