Dragon Quest VII came out on the 3DS little over a week ago in the West after having been exclusive to Japan for three years, and as a new budding fan of the Dragon Quest series, I must say that I am enjoying it.
The best way that I could possibly describe Dragon Quest series is that it is just “Classic Final Fantasy with Akira Toriyama’s artstyle” which in my eyes is a great thing. In this day and age where Final Fantasy has gradually evolved as a series, and turn-based combat mostly left forgotten in the past, Dragon Quest keeps its traditional keepsake and retains what made Final Fantasy amazing to begin with.
Having only played a portion of DQVIII, I honestly don’t have much experience with the series, which is why I quickly jumped on Dragon Quest VII when it released on the 3DS, because I’ve heard so many great things about the series and I’ve wanted to return to that classic JRPG goodness. Needless to say, I’m extremely happy that I decided to play DQVII.
As of writing, I’ve only so far put 29 hours into the game, which in reality is only a small portion of what is a 130+ hour game, and boy do I feel like I got a lot to go yet. The plot of the game is only just forming, and I have unlocked vocations just recently that spiffs up the game’s combat quite considerably. But let’s get into why I am enjoying this game so much.
The game starts off with the protagonist and his royal friend, Keifer, sealing up a hidden entrance to a place in a ruined temple. The game then cuts to the hero, who I’m going to refer to as Auster here on out, is getting lectured by another friend Maribel because she wants to know what he and Kiefer have been up to. Fast forward a little ways, the game’s introduction lasts quite a few hours. And eventually Auster and Kiefer discover this secret off-limits temple on the island, which by the way is the only place in existence in the current world, and are greeted by an Imp who tells them gather stone fragments, which Auster, Kiefer, and now Maribel, restore a column and are then teleported to a new island, in the past, and must save it from peril and its eventual doom. This is where the game’s main hook lays, in that the party jumps island to island restoring them in the current world, saving them from something perilous and moving on to a new one and so forth. Each island has it’s own self-contained stories, which are mostly based on fables and classic literature covering different nationalities like Scotland, Germany, and France for example. This adds some interesting exposition to the game’s overall plot and adds to the game’s depth and charm. With these different stories the game feels fresh when it comes to plot and story-telling, that I never get bored of what’s going on, because there’s always something new and intriguing going on.
The game itself though, despite being remade and simplified, does feel dated and can get tedious at times. The game contains literal hours of exposition before having another battle, multitudes of back tracking, and can sometimes get boring in that you are constantly just running around talking to people, which can certainly aggravate many gamers. However, it hasn’t bothered me, as I enjoy exposition in RPGs, and I typically care about the plot over combat, especially in older-styled JRPGs like Dragon Quest.
The combat in Dragon Quest VII is turn-based, and you plan all of your party’s moves within a turn and just hope it turns out for the best. Each character has a different skill archetype and even more so with the unlock of vocations. The vocations is the biggest thing going for the game’s combat, which I haven’t yet really experienced as I’ve just unlocked the system. But I can say that it does add to a character’s ability in combat, for example, I made Auster into a Sailor, which is a vocation that boasts health and defense, while teaching Auster water-based physical abilities. And I turned Maribel into a mage because she has a lot of MP and already knows quite a few spells, and with this vocation she can learn even more damage-based spells and further increase her amount of MP. So it definitely adds variety in how you build characters, which is awesome in my book. And the vocations also give the characters different outfits which is also really cool.
With it being a 3D remake of the original PlayStation game, it definitely looks better, but it’s not as good as Dragon Quest VII, while it looks fine on the 3DS, I can’t help but feel that it would’ve served better as a remake on PS3 and/or PS4, because it could’ve really benefited being on those consoles. Though with being an extremely long RPG, it also makes sense being on 3DS. So blah, it looks alright, but could certainly better.
The soundtrack is pretty nice, it doesn’t touch any Final Fantasy in terms of scale and greatness, it’s awesome in its own right. The remake also comes with a newly orchestrated soundtrack, so that’s pretty neat too. There is of course no voice acting, which I don’t mind because the localization is pretty tightly-knit and varied.
Anyways, these are my thoughts on Dragon Quest VII so far. I intend to write progress updates and maybe even a eventually a review for this absolute massive JRPG.