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Dragon Quest XI – Review
New and Old School
To be perfectly honest, I only have ever played a few JRPGs titles in my lifetime of playing video games and besides Final Fantasy and the Persona series, many good JRPG titles had flew under my radar over the years.
One of which is this series created by one Yujii Horii and his team about setting off for an adventure with dark undertones. A series that has the longest standing fanbase who knows the quirks of the series by heart but still stands by it through thick and thin.
Of course I’m talking about Square Enix’s Dragon Quest, one of the most celebrated series which had launch the latest installment a month ago. So, DQXI being my first foray into this series, it’s time to see weather this game can hold up with the hype and expectation? (Hint:yes).
Out of the gate, you’ll know that Dragon Quest is one of the best looking role-playing game on the market thanks to the colorful and vibrant artstyle.
From the warmth of the sun as you walk along the beaches and fields, to the moody rainfall of the forest areas, all accompanying the other main character of the game, the towns.
DQXI has a grand total of 20 towns, each unique in their design tone. One good example I could give early on (because some of the towns are quite spoiler-ish for the story) is Hotto, a small Japanese-like town where it’s main attraction is their volcano heated hot springs which players could recover health.
Design choices like this makes discovering towns a unique experience everything you visit one for the first time.
Besides that, the cast of characters you meet are also unique.
From the handsome but hilariously evil Jasper (there’s a story reason for that), to the twin sisters Veronica and Serena, who serves as your mages through the game, it’s nice to see a big cast of characters that you care can for as they are quite well written.
Even your player character has a interesting backstory, which goes to show how much effort is put into making memorable characters.
Continuing on with the characters, the voice over work in the English version is quite good, with distinct VOs over each characters. But while the character does have variation, it falters during combat as they keep reusing their battle quote everytime, not to mention the constant usage of the same music in every town as well, making it quite annoying as we go deeper into the game.
Dragon Quest XI is, as you might expect, is one of the few JRPG titles that still stuck by the original turn-based mechanics, since they are the pioneers of it. And with comes the question: is it balanced enough to make it enjoyable and not be a grindfest? Yes and No.
Yes, the enemies you fight (the odd slimes, dragons and were-tigers) are balanced according to your level, no matter which area are you in but here’s a kicker, good old RNG is there as well, so you could defeat a row of electric eels type enemies easily but when they get a continuous round of stun though, hopefully your last save is not 2 hours before.
As you grind through, you level,increase your party stats and also collect skill points. What are those points for, you say? Well, party members can focus on specific skills that can be unlock via those skill points that can help you connect with your party members.
It’s customization and item collecting is quite interesting to play around. Like, if you wanted a harem of mages and a warrior wearing bunny suits, well go ahead because you can customize your party to your heart’s content due to it’s excellent system, which includes a crafting system that helps you upgrade your weapons,outfit and shields using the items dropped from enemies.
So the choice is yours: either you buy new items at the armorer, upgrade your current weapons yourself OR create a weapon which can be sold to a merchant to get profit, it’s that flexible.
Content And Longevity
For the current price of 199 MYR, It’s quite affordable for a game this size of magnitude.
Having clocked in at least 20 hours for this review, a colleague of mine told me that he had broke past 100 hours due to the post-game stuff being fun to play. There is no doubt that the work by Horii-san and his team is something that can be praised for its ingenuity.
Dragon Quest XI is Square Enix’s way to show that they can still do great turn-based JRPG. Think of this as the love letter of this genre by the creators themselves. It can be picked up and play by beginners and veterans alike without any problems and who knows, newer players could be entice to try the other titles in the series which can lead to newer fans of the series and so on.
Do I recommend grabbing this? Yes. And be ready for a good ride towards something different yet familiar.
Played on a PS4 Slim, Review copy provided by Sony on behalf of Square Enix. Played on version 1.03.