Infinity Engine is a game engine originally developed by BioWare to create isometric role-playing games. It was initially developed for a prototype real time strategy game called Battleground Infinity, which eventually became the first chapter of Baldur’s Gate.
Licensing the use of the Infinity Engine to Black Isle Studios, BioWare also used it in the creation of the Baldur’s Gate series. Join us as we count down to the best Infinity Engine game.
5. Icewind Dale
|Developer||Black Isle Studios|
|Release Date||29 June 2000|
|Platforms||PC, Mac OS, Mac OS X|
Set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, the player’s party is hired to guard a caravan, but soon discover a conspiracy that threatens the realm of Icewind Dale and beyond. The game sequel as well as an expansion titled Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter.
Not only does the game use the same games engine, it also incorporates similar gameplay elements to the Baldur’s Gate series.
The game is divided into chapters and combat happens in real-time as opposed to turn-based which is typical of the genre. Incorporating paper-doll mechanics to add to the visual appeal, the game is also praised for its sweeping musical score.
The game is a little too focused on combat and leaves little room for storytelling. It can also be confusing at times to move the game along as one might lose track of where to go next, that in addition to the game crashing every so often can certainly add to a frustrating play through.
The game is also a little too similar to Baldur’s Gate and does very little to set itself apart.
4. Ice Wind Dale II
|Developer||Black Isle Studios|
|Release Date||27 August 2002|
The sequel to the original Icewind Dale is set in the Forgotten Realms universe and players control a group of mercenaries in a conflict between persecuted factions and the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. It used a modified version of the Infinity Engine and this would be the last time the Infinity Engine is used.
The game once again uses real-time gameplay with up to six players able to join in the multiplayer experience. Pre-selected party members are on offer at the start of the game or the player may choose to create his or her own unique character.
Character traits also affect gameplay depending on how that character is perceived in the game by other races encountered. The game doesn’t rely too much on story, focusing once again on a heavy combat element.
The graphics and gameplay elements are certainly outdated, when compared to similar games in the genre, which may be the main reason that the Infinity Engine was retired at this point.
The pathfinding AI which was notoriously bad in the previous game is even worse here and one is liable to get more than a little annoyed with it.
3. Planescape: Torment
|Developer||Black Isle Studios|
|Release Date||12 December 1999|
|Platforms||PC, Linux, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One|
Another title set in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy campaign setting with the player assuming the role of an immortal known only as, The Nameless One.
The game has a strong story focus with combat playing an incidental role. The game was not a commercial success, but had enough unique characteristics to make it a cult classic.
The Nameless One starts out in the fighter class, but players can gradually change his skill set based on various gameplay elements.
The game is also praised for using the Dungeons & Dragons character alignment system, which affects the moral inclination of the playable character and influences interactions with NPCs throughout the story. The dark setting and pervading theme also set it apart from its peers, with a deeply engrossing story.
Planescape: Torment was known to be buggy in certain areas and slowed down considerably when several graphical elements competed on the screen simultaneously and while that was fixed with the release of a patch, the game still feels too similar to Baldur’s Gate despite its unique setting.
2. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn
|Release Date||21 September 2000|
|Platforms||PC, Mac OS, Linux|
Taking place in the Forgotten Realms and using the 2nd edition rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the game gives players an isometric perspective with real-time gameplay elements.
The developers took note of what fans had to say, earning Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, the title of one of the greatest video games of all time.
The main game can take anything up to 60 hours to complete, while factoring in all side quests keeping you busy for at least 300 hours. Up to six party members are controlled with players having a choice between the pre-selected playable characters or importing characters from a previous game.
The story, quests and characters weave an engrossing tale that is mesmerizing in its execution. The combat system received several improvements and the interface is quite easy to get stuck into.
Online multiplayer mode is one of the few drawbacks and makes online play incredibly frustrating.
The game also tends to crash quite frequently at certain in-game locations. The loading screens also stick around for longer that one would hope, but overall, the game delivers.
1. Baldur’s Gate
|Release Date||21 December 1998|
|Platforms||PC, Mac OS, PS2, PS4, Xbox, Xbox One, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Linux, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android|
Set in the Forgotten Realms, the game spawned two series, namely, the Dark Alliance and Bhaalspawn Saga, both of which went on to achieve commercial successes. The inspiration behind the creation of the Infinity Engine and our pick for best Infinity Engine game.
The story centers around an orphan who must discover the reason for the killing of his foster father. The game was revolutionary in that it introduced a pre-rendered isometric worldview with gorgeously painted backdrops and sprite-based characters.
Allies can be recruited as the game progresses and each character is carefully fleshed out giving the gameplay experience an unprecedented level of depth. Baldur’s Gate is a masterpiece and won numerous gaming awards.
The game might appear outdated by modern standards and sequels may have improved on certain elements that were lacking, but the original brought so much to the genre that one cannot deny its place as the best Infinity Engine game.
Very few games can claim the prestige of having set the precedent in a genre, but that is exactly what Baldur’s Gate did.