Review | Dragon Quest XI
"Magnificent 11th sequel of the famous franchise is here to delight both old and young. Welcome to the game that competes for the game of the year and one of jRPG classics."
Dragon Quest XI finally arrived at our doorsteps. It has been in development since 2013 and finally after MMORPG title (DQ X) and DQ IX which was NDS title, we have single player story driven DQ on our consoles. What is interesting is that Level-5 did not developed this one, so considering Square Enix was given the job got people a little suspicious. But, I must admit, everything fits perfectly. As usual, Yujy Hori is behind everything. Man deserves his own statue, which in Japan wouldn't be weird or unexpected because up there, DQ is sacred.
Yggdrasil Tree - Beginning and the End of Life and Fantasy
Welcome to the world of beautiful kingdoms and dragons. Oh wait, there are no dragons here.
Core of this entry is similar to what we've been introduced already - fight between good and evil told through classic example where you (Hero) are special because of powers that rest deep inside you. Up here you are the Luminary, young boy with seal on his hand who survived attack on his kingdom from dark forces of evil. Story starts in a small-town Cobblestone where Hero turned out to be half-long-haired numb boy. So, in this game as it was in previous titles, you don't talk. Tradition continues while at the same time there is no real game impact because of that.
On that lovely sunny day in the town, tradition was held. Young Hero is not a boy anymore, and it's time to climb the mountain and finish the trials. Of course that something will go wrong and monsters will attack. At that moment the power inside Hero shines bright and it's clear that from that moment you are not an ordinary boy. So very soon, you leave the village in lookout for some answers. Story is really good, not perfect, but more then decent. I will leave it for you to discover the beauty of it. Your pain of reading tons of lines will be soften by the fact that many many dialogs are dubbed and they did a great job. Even side stories and side events have audio so you will just love interpretation of dialects throughout the world of Erdreae.
Oh man why me on this foggy day
Humor is typical for Dragon Quest, a little twisted but yet so good. E.g. church with crooked Mercedes logo, confession for saving game progress, name of mobs like Bunicorn (a rabbit with a horn)... Everything is beautifully twisted and it's here on each step to give you new thrill on a journey called this game. Cool stuff happens in battles as well, enemies fall when trying to attack and they lose their turn. All of that is what decorates series, and I am very glad they are here at it's finest. Each and every location have it's own story and atmosphere and there is plenty of locations.
I would like to go through playable characters:
- Erik, thief. First teammate in game. Cool guy.
- Sylvando, girly character and circus entertainer, a real party joker with hilarious comments for every situation.
- Sisters Veronica and Serena, staff experts. On first glance, Veronica is just another brat that will get on your nerves. But not this time! Good voice acting made her valuable asset in the team.
- Oldman Rab who is actually Robert, mustache grandpa. I will reveal only one thing, Japanese classic - when it's his time to react in a scene, erotic magazine pops out of his pocket.
- Jade, a pretty spear girl. Most attractive member of your team for sure.
There is one more member as well, but reveling that wouldn't be ok. The in between character relations are top notch and you will care about each and every one of them. And it should be that way, long RPG need to have memorable and fun characters.
Sometimes (a lot) I regret not being part of this kind of worlds. Team and romance, it's what we all need.
"It's hard not to connect with everyone on this adventure so called a fairy tale, which leaves you breathless on every step."
Let's dive in to the actual character development, what matter most in an RPG. Typically, characters are developed through levels. Starting from level 1 there's a long way up to 99 if you aim for platinum trophy. As expected, each level will strengthen your character attributes which cannot be influenced, but in here we also have sphere grid character development style. Each character has predisposition for certain type of weapons which would mean that skills are co-related in that regard. After every level certain amount of skill points is accumulated. How you will develop your character depends on you, which in some cases can be tricky. I wanted to mash with whips and swords at the same time and it simply doesn't work that way. Luckily you can respec visiting priest where you save your game. Along with skills you will use as you see fit, by leveling you will gain hardcoded ones as well, all specific to that character. At the end you will find yourself having so much skills and spells and it will be fun to explore different combinations to approach combat.
Finally, one thing is what warms my hearth. We have Pep Skills - special types of strong attacks or buffs that are specific to one character of combination up to 4 of them. The longer you are in the battle or simply after certain amount of turns, characters will be graced with burst of energy (DBZ!!!) and Pep Skill mode is on. You are stronger, more resistant. It only lasts for few turns so it's good to take your chances. The main point of this mode is to deliver strong special attack which will be there depending if you unlocked right skills either with one or more characters combined. The effects and animations are eye candy and i loved watching them all over again. A minus would be that initiating Pep Mode can be too random so it gets frustrating, especially when you need more than 2 characters to perform attack.
There is no such thing more fond then drooling grizzly bear
"Battles were never as pretty. Classic enemies Dragon Quest style drawn perfectly, simply astonished."
Since we are talking about battles, let's cover them a bit. Turn based is back! Oh how I love turn based battles. It's good, i wouldn't say spectacular, but fairly good. When and how to kick, in which moment, all is here. Unfortunately, most of the game is easy so the real challenge is left out a bit, but you can still turn up difficulty (there is a setting) to solve that in a way. Still, not grinding too often can cost you defeat in some tougher boss battles. I like to beat everyone on my way so I am never under-leveled. Even with all that, battles are fun and 100h of playing will not spoil them for you. They introduced running in battle area when you fight. Appliance for that is absolutely none, apart from checking enemies from different angles and maybe taking some pictures. Also, it's simply fun to admire boss designs. Characters can be managed manually or use pre-defined tactics to do it for you. I prefer manual tactic, but automatism will also do the job just fine.
Boss fights are designed brilliantly. Mostly they will attack even 2-3 times in a row so you need to be extra careful
Next and very important - equipment and items. As said, weapons are defined based on certain character and what he/she can equip. So, thief can for example, use swords and daggers. Every weapon changes visually when you equip it, and there are a lot of them. I love that approach, so gathering money to buy weapons regularly was no strange job for me. Cool thing is that there are sets of equipment (Armor, Headgear and Accessory) which will change appearance of your character. There is couple of them for every character and they are brilliant. Jade as bunny girl - on spot.
Inventory is decent, but carrying certain number of items per character is a drag. Even transferring takes too much time. You can ditch everything to inventory but if you want to use items you need to transfer those to them. What is cool is that they kept the old school Menu design when you press menu button, feels so nostalgic. Also there is Heal All, to heal up fast after fights. Useful shortcut, but all in all, what you need is here.
With this kind of graphics and landscapes I wish that fights lasts longer. Suiting for the eyes.
What would we do without flowers with teeth's. And what would they do without us. Specter of absurd absolutely shines and we love it.
As for the world itself, dungeons and locations - job well done. Although you can see same tree 49 times when you circulate on the map, as a whole it's decently packed. Every location is unique in it's own way and copy paste is not present. Among all location (expect towns but sometimes even there) you can find visible walking enemies. In that way you can avoid battles or start them. Some locations are quite big so it takes time to fully explore them. And don't be lazy, explore and collect, collection points shine with crafting items that will neat you new weapons, armors or accessories. Or you can just upgrade them to higher levels. Also you can find cow poo, so it's very important that you explore, and there are mini medals hidden and just waiting to found. Yey, mini medals are back! Same recipe, collect enough and exchange for decent prizes. It's also smart to read all the books because often there will be new equipment recipes hidden inside. Not just that, lore is also really interesting. Exactly that what is not the main story is what shines greatly, every detail, conversation, every side errand is good in it's own way and just rises overall quality of the game. I spent so many hours listening to all the conversations throughout the towns and laughed at many on them.
When you explore the map you can ride your horse to speed up movement. You can also find certain types of monsters that when you beat you can ride, giving you opportunity to reach otherwise not reachable parts of map. Cows are uber important. Why you ask? They will tell you what weather is expected and when. Like Hero would say: "Wow, this cows really know about weather".
Of course, without snow lands there is no jRPG. Romantic as all is, bashing is always welcome
Game features morning, noon, afternoon and night. All locations you can explore during all those different time settings. There is no real affection to do so, but it's nice to feel different vibe. At night you will face stronger enemies, and you can find some NPCs only overnight. Game is offering you fast travel to every place you camped or visited, no worries about that part.
Through the 100h of gameI did not even once felt like it's too much or it lacks inspiration. So much effort was put intoall, that you can really feel that.
What really made me happy is the world map exploration. Remember Final Fantasy 7 and all those older games which had that? Minus is that it's very simple and you know where you can go or not, so it kinda loses that exploration feel a bit. Still, it's nice that they thought about it and included.
A strong emphasis is on secondary stuff in game. There is plenty of side quest, crafting system, decent or rather very decent post game content, good amount of non-obligatory locations...Time flies and you woke up broke after spending whole day playing roulette in casino.
Crafting system is great, like and RPG itself. As you progress and level up so does your crafting power and skills. Every type of equipment you are crafting/enhancing is represented by a bar that you fill by using crafting skills. There is a perfect point in each, so you have to be careful not to overdo it. Some skills will hit more area of those bar, some will double the points. In the end you can get up to +3 of some equipment, but fear not, if you fail you can rework by using some pearls and try again. Exploring the game thoroughly opens good number of things you can craft which means you don't need to spend 50 hours grinding for items. Only problem will be money, that is the hardest to accumulate.
Nah, it's not Ocarina of Time. But boy can play the flute. He is calling the wales they say
Side quest are few per town, which could sound like a small number, but comparing how much post content is there it's just about right. Last Act can feel a bit like recycling same things, which in fact it is, jbut as the story goes on everything will fit together. Don't stop playing the game until you know you are done with the story. I know that i archived like 300mb of screenshots just to capture the moments of delicious graphics of DQ world.
Music wise not much changed in this title. All classics are here, as package it's a solid work. If i would compare it to some other games like Persona 5, Octopath Traveler or Xenoblade Chronicles 2, i would say it's not in that rank unfortunately. Better music would deffinitly enhance overall experience. What I like is that old 8bit sounds when entering some locations, they kept it to make us happy about the past being here also. You can finish the game in around 60 hours, 100 hours if you aim for platinum trophy and maybe 20 more if you want everything.
World saved, take us for some beers now. And you purple man, dress something else
Sadness, sorrow and depression. That is the feel after you are aware that game is done. This kind of games happens few times through 10 years. Do not let yourself miss it.
I really miss funny stuff like hitting the celling when you teleport in closed areas, don't know why they removed that. Also, I didn't like the level of easiness of the game in general, and that walking in battles have no sense. Map exploration is basic and simple when it comes to finding new stuff.
With all that said, this is for sure the ultimate RPG experience that will not leave you hanging. This is sweet secret of Japanese culture of good RPG enveloped in attire of stunning anime animations. This is...everything you want it to be. There are dragons, i was just kidding.
"One of the best in the series and definitely example of true RPG."
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